Resurgent sales and dockside soirees were the hallmarks of Miami Beach’s boat show with a nightlife
The largest-ever Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach featured more than 500 new and used boats valued at more than $1 billion this year, with the in-water count up 16 percent from 2012, according to Show Management, producers of the show held Feb. 14-18.
The largest increase, 58 percent, came in the 105- to 125-foot category, requiring the show to expand its footprint on Indian Creek. The 80- to 104-foot category saw an increase of 31 percent from 2012, and boats under 49 feet were up 23 percent. The show is owned by the Florida Yacht Brokers Association and runs concurrently with the NMMA Miami International Boat Show.
Because there’s no entry fee it’s difficult to track attendance, but exhibitors overwhelmingly say the event was exponentially better than last year’s show, with some proclaiming it the best show of the season.
Feedback from the docks
Viking Yachts had positive feedback to report, with eight boats sold during the show — a 76 Enclosed Bridge Convertible, a 70 Convertible, five 62 Convertibles and a 42 Open. “From the show, we also are working another six to 10 strong prospects,” says Viking Yachts communications director Peter Frederiksen.
Viking’s sales success followed a VIP preview Feb. 1-2 in Riviera Beach, where 10 boats were sold. “When you go to a show and people are knocked out by what they see it just makes you feel really good. We’re just very elated,” Frederiksen says.
United Kingdom-based Sealine was exhibiting at the Yacht & Brokerage Show for the first time in 12 years as it continues to reintroduce the brand to the U.S. market. Sealine, which was sold by Brunswick Corp. to a private equity group last year, debuted the F450 in Miami, says general manager Tom Riemann. “There was good interest in that boat, but we actually sold the smallest in our product mix, the S380, and the biggest, the T50,” he says. “So we sold the top and the bottom of our line.”
The S380 was significant because the 30- to 40-foot market has been the softest for the last four years, Riemann says. “It was European Boat of the Year, and we brought it to the United States, and people responded. It was a very good sign, A) to see that part of the market has life again, and B) because we think our product tipped the market.”
“Overall it was a fantastic show,” Riemann adds. “It was our best show out of all the six we’ve done since we brought the brand back to the U.S. I think the overall atmosphere is at least the upper end of the market is coming back to life.”
Grand Banks Yachts saw traffic registration increase 15 percent, whereas last year it was flat or slightly down from 2011, says brand and marketing director David Hensel. Last year Grand Banks didn’t take any orders during the show, which is “not particularly unusual. We can have a great show and not take any orders,” Hensel says. This year, the builder took an order for a 50 Eastbay SX, and there was significant interest in other Grand Banks models, including the 43 and 54 Heritage EU.
“There’s some quantifiable evidence that this year was better than last, and it is just a continuation of a trend that started late last summer, where we’ve seen continued sales growth that’s resulted in a net order backlog that’s up nearly 45 percent over where it stood a year ago,” Hensel says. “We’ve got many dealers who are confident, if not certain, that they are taking orders in the near future for additional new boats. It’s different than the warm, fuzzy feeling from last year’s show. We did well, we were optimistic, but that show didn’t translate into as many sales as I would expect here in 2013.”
Innovation driving sales
Frederiksen agrees that new models are drawing the customers. The three new Viking models — the 55 Convertible, 62 Convertible, and 62 Enclosed Bridge Convertible — all garnered attention. “Our 62 Convertible is on fire. It’s incredible,” Frederiksen said shortly after the show wrapped up. “It hasn’t even been out 20 days yet, and it’s unbelievable how many people just jumped on that boat.”
Parties at the Yacht & Brokerage Show often occur after dark on the yachts. The Sunreef Yachts party that featured Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Poland president Lech Walesa, whose political career grew out of his job at what is now the Sunreef boatyard in Gdansk.
“We have dozens of events that exhibitors are scheduling in the evening on boats,” says Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Active Interest Media, which owns Show Management and Soundings Trade Only and celebrated its Marine Group’s first anniversary at the show. “It’s a beautiful setting.”
The festive Miami atmosphere helps generate excitement, Riemann says, who hopes the upswing will gain traction. “We move in this weekend to West Palm Beach, and we’re excited to see if that enthusiasm continues. There seems to be some momentum picking up, so we’re pretty excited for the spring and summer selling season.”
Some say a decline in political tension is helping drive that momentum. “The industry is strong because it’s not overclouded now,” says Beaver. “The election’s over, the fiscal cliff is over, and everybody’s like, it is what it is.”
“A lot of people just saying, ‘I’m not waiting anymore, I’m going to live my life,’ ” Frederiksen says. “So we expect this momentum to continue.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue.