MIAMI 2019: Mixed reviews for Miami Yacht Show

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The first Miami Yacht Show, in its new format and location on Herald Plaza, received mixed reviews by exhibitors. The show moved this year from its longstanding location on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach to One Herald Plaza on the Miami waterfront near the downtown area.

Several exhibitors complained about a shortage of attendees on the first two days of the show, while attendee numbers increased on Saturday and Sunday. This year’s show is divided by the Venetian Causeway, with temporary docks on both sides of the street. Police were outside the show in large numbers, halting traffic so show-goers could safely cross to the other exhibit area.

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This year’s show, laid out in a grid pattern, was physically different from the Collins Avenue venue, which stretched in a straight line for several miles along the canals. Show organizer Informa said the number of linear feet for both shows is similar.

One European exhibitor, whose display was tucked into a far corner of the show, was concerned that his brand would not receive the foot traffic it had on Collins. “We’re not seeing the numbers that we’d expected,” he told Trade Only Today, requesting anonymity.

Others noted pros and cons. “We’re not getting the numbers on the stand, but we’re getting good people,” said Sean Robertson, president of Sunseeker USA, on Saturday morning. “We wanted to get walk-by visitors who are also going to Azimut, Ferretti and Princess, and we are seeing those people.”

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Robertson added that the new show had “some real positives,” including easier accessibility with the grid layout. “The show itself is a better layout,” Robertson said. “But I’m not convinced about this location. Collins was better because it felt like you were in the right place. The hotels and restaurants were just a taxi ride away. This location doesn’t have that infrastructure. We’re constantly going back to South Beach for client dinners, and most of our clients are staying out there.”

Hank Compton, managing director of Grand Banks Yachts, says the new venue is an improvement over his location last year at the NMMA show on Virginia Key. “It’s easy to get customers in and out quickly,” he said. “Last year it took hours to get out to the other show, and we heard about it from clients. Also, our team is staying nearby here, and there’s a parking garage just down the road. I’m a fan.”

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The Grand Banks and Palm Beach yachts were on the other side of the Venetian Causeway from the main show. Compton hasn’t decided yet if he will move to the larger side next year. “That’s something we’ll have to consider after this year’s event,” he said.

Exhibitors generally seemed pleased with the new show site. “The whole feel of the show was phenomenal,” said Glynn Day, director of marine services for Fire Ranger, which installs and services fire-suppression systems. “The first two days, we saw mostly engineers and owners of vessels in the 65- to 100-foot range. We signed up many local service contracts — in fact, everyone was from the tricounty area.”

Day said the larger crowds during the weekend didn’t bring as much business as the first two days, but the company received a number of inquiries from exhibitors that had fire-suppression systems in their local headquarters. “We also have a land-based business, so we were able to tap that for those businesses,” Day said.

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Ignacio Vadillo, owner of Argos Nautic, a Miami-based RIB builder, did not mince words. “This has been the best show ever,” he said. “The location is amazing, and we believe the visitor and exhibitor numbers have both increased. We met a lot of quality people, and the traffic has been better than any other Miami show.”

Vadillo praised the grid structure, noting that “it’s now much easier for visitors to get to all exhibitors.”

The company also turned the show into a B2B event, meeting with builders from Asia and Europe. “They’re interested in having a relationship with possible distributor networks,” he said. “We took advantage of both consumer interest and commercial opportunities at this year’s event.”

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