Skip to main content

Postcard from Lauderdale: the new norm

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

What a difference a year makes. Business is still way off, but the surprise and fear that permeated last year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show as the economy tumbled a bit further each day was mostly gone.

The consumers walking the docks at FLIBS seemed to have found their collective sea legs. They were back testing the waters and looking for deals. Builders and dealers were talking about either making — or having made — a bottom. And their attention was now trained on the slow climb out. The survivors of the tumult of the last 12 months were at Lauderdale.

The number of big boats was up, small boats down. Attendance was flat or up a smidgen. The convention center exhibitors fit on one floor rather than three. And some who had been in the convention center got in-water space for the first time.

Smaller is to be expected. Smaller will be the new norm. As one builder told me: “Normal is not going to be back to where it was, not for a long, long time.”

There were a number of new boat and product introductions at FLIBS, although the volume was down. New product eventually will help jumpstart those consumers who are still just nibbling on the idea of a new boat. And innovations such as pod drives and joystick steering will give early adapters a reason to come back in.

Longer term, whatever changes builders can make to pull costs out of boats — fewer options, more modest power, perhaps — also will help as we move forward.

Bill Sisson
Trade Only Editor

Related

Teaser-Graphic-6-29-22_2

2022 Women in the Industry Summit, Leadership Panel, Awards Ceremony & Reception

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2022, MARRIOTT TAMPA WATER STREET, TAMPA, FL

DealerOutlook

Seabins Coming to Lake Erie

The devices, deployed as part of a pilot program, skim and collect debris from the water, including microplastics. Meanwhile, MBIA announces scholarship funds.

1_BOATSETTER

Boatsetter Reports Uptick in Rentals

The on-water experience company has seen triple-digit growth in pontoon and party-boat rentals, as well as fishing and yacht charters.

1_SMARTGYRO

Smartgyro Signs Distributors, Hires Sales Manager

The company said the three U.S. distributors, working with Bob Walker, will help expand its dealer network and brand recognition.

1_YEARGIN

The Upside of a Downturn

Economic challenges should push you to develop a strategy that helps you weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

1_TRAVELIFT.COOP

Marine Travelift Launches Co-op Program

The company received its first student, a University of Wisconsin engineering major, in the seven-month paid co-op.

1_JULY4

Trade Only Today Returns Tuesday

The e-newsletter will not publish July 4 in observance of Independence Day. We wish everyone a safe holiday weekend.

1_ORR.FUNDS

ORR Announces Federally Funded Projects

The U.S. Economic Development Administration prioritized outdoor recreation for the first time