“We think Miami Yacht Show at Collins Avenue is a better representation of what the show really is,” — Mary Bender, vice president of marketing for Informa
The Miami Yacht Show is co-owned by London-based Informa and the International Yacht Brokers Association; this will be the first year for the event since Informa purchased Show Management in March. The in-water display of new and used boats will be on Indian Creek from 41st to 54th streets, across from the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels.
“The Miami Yacht Show on Collins Avenue, year in and year out, is a prime venue to sell bigger boats to both U.S. and international customers,” says Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer for MarineMax, one of the largest dealer exhibitors at the show. “It’s probably the best venue to sell boats 40 feet and up that I know of. It’s very specific to one segment of boats. People who come here aren’t looking for a wide array of boats. They’re looking for sport yachts and yachts, with very few exceptions.”
New owners, new investments
The show’s rebranding (it had been known as Yachts Miami Beach) was to alleviate confusion about the fact that two shows run concurrently in Miami during the Presidents Day weekend. Informa runs the Miami Yacht Show; the National Marine Manufacturers Association owns and operates the Miami International Boat Show, on Virginia Key.
“We think Miami Yacht Show at Collins Avenue is a better representation of what the show really is,” says Mary Bender, vice president of marketing for Informa.
Informa has invested several million dollars in new electrical systems and EPA-approved fiberglass docks, which are safer and easier to walk on. The company also beefed up signage, with totems that can stand up to the wind, Bender says.
Similar signage appeared at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in November.
“We saw signs early at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that the new owners would be great for the show: new docks, better amenities, improved infrastructure,” Cashman says. “They’re very promotion-oriented. They’ve been awesome.”
Informa has revamped the Miami show’s marketing, as well. There has been more cross-marketing with the Miami International Boat Show, and more targeting of international consumers.
“We started that much earlier this year, so we truly anticipate a surge of attendees from overseas,” Bender says.
The euro, with an exchange rate of €1.20 to $1 as of Jan. 11, is “about as neutral as it’s been in years,” Cashman says. “If it goes up to $1.35, all the U.S. buyers don’t want to buy foreign boats, and if it goes down to $1.05 you lose the foreign buyers. So $1.20 is good.”
Informa’s new website includes a Boat Show Marketplace, which provides company and product information from exhibitors so visitors can plan and manage their visits to the show.
“Exhibitors can upload videos, new-boat models and specifications,” Bender says, “and can upload quite a bit more info than in the past, if they choose.”
Visitors can create a “walking list” of favorite things to visit at the show. “It helps attendees make more valuable use of their time,” Bender says.
The biggest boats
For the third year, the Miami Yacht Show will include a display of superyachts at Island Gardens Deep Harbour on Watson Island, on I-395/MacArthur Causeway. The site can accommodate yachts as large as 500 feet, and the invitation-only show within a show, known as SuperYacht Miami, will host some of the show’s largest superyachts.
Guests can make appointments for yacht tours by contacting Island Gardens exhibitors or through Show Management. More than 20 superyachts will be on display.
There will still be large yachts on Collins Avenue: HMY Yacht Sales plans to bring the 190-foot Trinity, Skyfall, to the brokerage section, as well as the 120-foot Trinity, Finish Line. Alexander Marine plans to show a new 120-foot Ocean Alexander, and Azimut is advertising a new 114-foot yacht. HMY expects to have the 105-foot Mangusta, U Wish, in the brokerage section.
New VIP experience
The Miami Yacht Show’s new VIP experience includes a floating waterfront lounge at the center of the show, nestled amid some of the largest yachts on display. Pass holders can access an open bar and refreshments, and showcases and concierge services in a climate-controlled setting. The concierge service by Delmay and Partners will arrange private yacht tours and honor other requests.
The VIP experience is relatively new at this show, as is ticketing in general, which began last year.
“Part of the ticketing endeavor was initiated by the docks, which were packed with people who were onlookers who had no intention of purchasing a boat,” Bender says.
Also on Collins Avenue, Sea Ray plans to debut its 520 Sundancer and that boat’s sister model, the 520 Fly, says Shelby Kirby, marketing director for Sea Ray.
“We are coming out of our most successful Yacht Expo since 2007; we had a phenomenal Fort Lauderdale show, indicating the market is in a great place,” Kirby says. “We’re thrilled. The show last year on Collins Avenue was phenomenal. It was one of our best shows in several years. We don’t expect to take any steps back from that.”
For Viking Yachts, the Collins Avenue show lets the brand “flex its muscles,” says Viking communications director Chris Landry.
“We have this huge display with 18 boats; it’s got to be one of the biggest at the show, though certainly the largest in the fishing-boat display,” Landry says. “We put a lot of time, money and effort into making sure we have the best — our display is very tight, very well organized and very professional. People are blown away when they walk into our display. The 92 and 93 are the first boats you see, yet the whole fleet is there. People just say ‘wow.’ ”
Michael Myers, owner of Boston Yacht Sales, says boat-show season is an exciting time for consumers to see all of the newest offerings.
“They are designing, innovating, constantly adapting to integrate the latest technology,” he says. “The examples are everywhere. The first Princess 55 arrived in North America in time to wow people as an outstanding addition to the Princess Flybridge Class at the 2018 Miami Yacht Show.”
Consumer interest continues to rise in Vicem Yachts, of Turkey, which builds cold-molded and fiberglass boats, Myers says. Hatteras continues to perform well, too, he says, by constantly incorporating consumer feedback into its designs.
MarineMax plans to bring Azimut’s 60 Fly, introduced at the Cannes Yachting Festival last autumn. The dealership has already sold out of that model for a year. The Azimut S7, which will make its U.S. debut at the Miami Yacht Show, has also proved popular, Cashman says.
“People that are buying the upper echelon of boats should be doing very well right now,” Cashman says. “The stock market’s going crazy. Consumer sentiment is good. Those are good bellwethers for us.”
Tax reform will affect everyone a little differently, but it is generally seen as good for spending, and the stock market closed at another all-time high on Jan. 11, Cashman says.
“I think all manufacturers are seeing it as an opportunity to invest in new product,” he adds.
Watches and Wonders
Among the VIP showcases will be Watches and Wonders Miami, an event with more than 20 luxury timepiece manufacturers. Shuttle service will take VIP ticket holders to and from the yacht show to the timepiece event in the Miami Design District, where brands that include Bulgari, Cartier and Hermès are scheduled to unveil their newest creations for the first time in the United States.
Visitors there can change places with a watchmaker. A workshop will explain gears and springs, the escapement and the balance wheel, letting attendees take apart and reassemble a Unitas 6497-1 movement.
VIP ticket holders also can sign up for a Miami Yacht Show workshop at Watches and Wonders, and there will be a virtual-reality experience in the VIP lounge.
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue.