Themed villages, color-coding and an improved app ease the huge show’s navigational challenges
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is many things, but it is not small. That is one of the reasons the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the show, and organizer Show Management decided to group like products into various pavilions.
“Creating ‘villages’ for different boating experiences has been tremendously successful,” says MIASF president Kristina Hebert. “This is ultimately a platform for manufacturers, retailers and vendors to show their products and for buyers from around the world to see these products in a convenient, fun and business-friendly atmosphere.
“MIASF and Show Management have spent countless hours looking at ways to make navigation of the show easier,” says Hebert. “This has resulted in the app created by Show Management, information stations throughout the show, easily identifiable staff to provide assistance, villages of different boating styles clearly marked by flags and carpeting, and better, more visible booth number markings.”
A color-coding system — new this year — is also designed to help visitors find their way from place to place. “We will have much improved navigation,” says Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media, which owns Show Management and is the parent company of Soundings Trade Only. “We’re going to have each major section of the show along the Intracoastal Waterway with a different color code. Las Olas will have its own color, Bahia Mar North, Bahia Mar South — each will be color-coded with flags so it will be very easy to tell which area you’re in.”
Maps distributed at the show will also show the color codes, and large “You are here” maps will be strategically placed around the show, as well.
In addition, the free boat show app (available at www.showmanagement.com) has been improved to provide quicker map access, Zimbalist says. “We’re adding some improvements to the app to make it function faster, better and to allow for the maps to read better,” he says. “I think the main improvement is to make it function more quickly. Secondly, the main effort this year was to have the same kind of presentation on Androids and Apple operating systems. In the last generation, we had to develop two apps, one for Android and one for Apple. The authoring tools have improved to the point that we can create the app once and have it show not only on different operating systems, but to also show up properly on different-sized screens.”
Here is a rundown of the pavilions and what each entails:
• The Sailfish Pavilion: This new section will engage guests with displays inside and out, including the offshore raceboat Miss Geico, a fishing pond, a new bar and food trucks. The Sailfish Pavilion is more than 90,000 square feet of additional space outside the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center featuring boats from 15 to 40 feet and an wide selection of marine accessories. The new Florida Sportsman pond will feature daily fishing demonstrations, and the new LandShark Bar will offer a grilled food menu.
• The Performance Village: This section of the show, redesigned last year, will feature high-performance boats and a tent structure with an array of accessories. Also planned for this section is a performance-themed floating cocktail barge with entertainment. There are still going to be performance boats in this area, just outside the entrance tent. The cocktail barge in this area still will be named Guzzlers, and there also will be several exotic cars in the area.
• Sportfish Village: The sportfish section features a tent housing custom sportfish manufacturers, along with accessories and services. The surrounding water will feature custom boats and easy access to Hatteras, Cabo, Bertram and Viking displays.
• CruiserPort: Formerly known as TrawlerPort, this village is sponsored by AIM’s PassageMaker magazine and features long-range cruisers and innovations tailored to the cruising-under-power lifestyle. Another highlight of this village is the seminar program. The seminars are very popular, so it pays to show up early. Many were standing-room-only in 2012.
• The Superyacht Experience: Formerly known as the SYBass, or Superyacht Builders Association, Pavilion, this air-conditioned structure features an assembly of yards in a VIP setting. It’s surrounded by the superyachts that FLIBS is known for. At the very end of the SYBAss dock will be the Club at SeaFair, a 228-foot custom yacht that will house an art exhibit, fine jewelry, a restaurant and bar, the AIM pavilion and VIP lounges.
Located dockside at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and Marina, SeaFair is designed to provide a club-like environment where guests can meet to relax or conduct business. Zimbalist is particularly excited about this attraction, saying the Club at SeaFair will have a 120-seat restaurant with white tablecloths on the upper two decks. The fourth deck is outdoors and seating is covered; the third floor will be inside and air-conditioned. “It will be a much more elegant kind of experience for those looking for that,” he says. “Wine and cocktails will be available, and delicious food.” The bottom two decks will have a modern, gallery atmosphere.
• The Yachting Tent: Located in booths 600 through 821, this village has everything to do with yachting, including services, products, marinas, insurance, designers, interiors and hard goods, among other things.
• The Yacht Builders Pavilion: Formally known as the Superyacht Annex, this pavilion houses only yacht builders. Although it does not feature boats, builders will showcase scale models, photos and more.
• KidZone: Located at the convention center, KidZone will feature Hook The Future children’s fishing clinics by Capt. Don Dingman.
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue.