At the 52nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS), three million square feet of exhibits in-water and on land were humming with optimistic exhibitors and motivated buyers. Despite inclement weather over the weekend, the show was able to shine on with many exhibitors reporting that it was the best show in 5 years. Attendance increased during the first two days of the Show, before rain dampened visitation on Saturday and Sunday. In total, attendance was flat with 2010.
"Overall we are very pleased with how this year's show turned out," said Efrem Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, the company that produces the show. "There was a strong presence of serious buyers and our exhibitors were ready with great new product and realistic pricing."
As retail sales begin an upturn, experienced yachtsmen and those looking to enter the market with the purchase of their first boat cautiously resurfaced as eager and more educated consumers.
"Crowds lined the aisles of the Superyacht Builders and Designers Tent," said Catalina Bujor, PR/marketing officer with Dockwise Yacht Transport. "We had consistent traffic coming in for quotes and inquiries and we came away from the show with several bookings and valuable leads from all over the world."
Said Andrew Cohen with YACHTSIGN®, "We met with owners, captains, builders, marina operators and world-class designers who insist upon buying the highest-quality products, one of the many reasons they come to FLIBS."
This year's show focused on engaging attendees as well as exhibitors with easy-to-navigate show sites at this best-of boating lifestyle event. Enhancements to the show including the new smartphone app named MyBoatShow, Trawler Port, the SYBAss Pavilion and Captain's Den all contributed to a well-executed and heavily attended event.
Sean Blue, AVP and director of yachts with Chartis, a global property and casualty insurance provider whose display was among the superyacht builders in the new SYBAss Pavilion, concurred with the positive feedback, adding, "Despite the weather at the show, traffic was good and chatter on the docks was definitely up in terms of buyers in the crowd. This seemed to be across various segments in the industry and yachts of all values. What also seemed to be occurring was a greater collaboration between various businesses to add value to each other's services and to sell the yachting lifestyle and build a stronger industry."
Attendees took to the docks at the Bahia Mar, Hall of Fame, Hilton, Sails and Las Olas Marinas rain or shine with many sales reported and offers made.
"I can't recall a moment during the Show that the Beneteau G.T. booth wasn't buzzing with buyers examining the new Beneteau Power line-up," said Bob Denison, co-owner of Dension Yacht Sales, the exclusive Beneteau Power dealer in South Florida. "TrawlerPort benefitted from a steady stream of trawler buyers. The 52 Swift Trawler attracted trawler enthusiasts from all over the world."
The Broward Convention Center, an extremely popular show location during the wetter moments of the show, also reported quality activity.
"We saw big crowds, especially for the rainy days that we had on the weekend," said Jim Zimmerman, general manager of Jerry's Marine Service. "We saw a lot of interest from customers wanting to repower their existing boats. Owners who are not ready to spend for a new boat just yet are going to re-power their existing boats."
Also heavily attended were the 45 free fishing, diving and boating safety seminars, some with standing room only.
Fort Lauderdale International Boat
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