The 56th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) wrapped up on Monday, November 9 and all signs point to another successful year for what some refer to as a "super bowl" of boating events. This year's show was the largest it has ever been in terms of overall square footage of exhibit space.
"Initial feedback from many exhibitors tells us that this was a truly successful event, that demand from buyers is strong, and that many segments of the boating market are once again prospering," said Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, the company that has managed and produced the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show since 1976. "Exhibitors have told us that a large amount of inventory was sold at the show this year, including a Bugatti Gran Turismo sold for $1.5 million by Fort Lauderdale Collection South."
The first two days of the show, Thursday, Nov. 5 and Friday, Nov. 6, were busy, with attendance up 10 percent over 2014. While many exhibitors reported interest from buyers and strong sales activity across all show days, show organizers suspect abnormally high temperatures over the weekend were too much for the casual attendee, resulting in an overall show attendance decrease of 2.7 percent compared to the previous year.
According to the National Weather Service, average temperatures were up to six degrees warmer than normal for the first weekend of November in Fort Lauderdale. On Saturday, Nov. 7, the temperature reached a high of 86 degrees with relative humidity as high as 85 percent, causing the heat index, or the "feels like" temperature, to reach as high as 102 degrees in the afternoon. Temperatures on Sunday, Nov. 8 and Monday, Nov. 9 were similar.
One place to cool off was the Windward Club, an air-conditioned, VIP lounge located at the Hall of Fame marina. New to the show this year, VIP packages included all-day access to the lounge, which featured gourmet food and a premium open bar; onsite valet parking; and a dedicated concierge service for arranging boat tours and access to a variety of private events. The VIP Boat Show Experiences program was produced in partnership with QuintEvents, a high-end hospitality provider known for creating official VIP packages at prestigious events such as the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, and Formula 1 events around the world.
"Our expectations for the Windward Club were far exceeded," said Brett Keating, vice president of consumer marketing at Show Management. "QuintEvents not only completely transformed the Hall of Fame space into a truly sophisticated lounge, but they also attracted ultra high-net worth individuals to experience the show like never before, including a group of hedge fund managers who collectively manage more than $100 billion in funds."
Boats on Display
This year, there were more boats on display in all categories than in the past. The number of new and brokerage boats on display in-water was up 5.4 percent over last year. Increases were seen across several boat categories including the under 80-foot category, which was up by 4 percent; in the 80-to-100-foot category, which was up 11 percent; and in the 126-foot-and-above category, which increased 14 percent.
"The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show brings together B2B and B2C vendors, manufacturers, yacht brokers, and customers from more than 34 countries to conduct business at the best boat show in the world," said Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the show. "This year's show delivered on experience, expectations, imagery, new products and world debuts at all levels of the marketplace."
Commenting on the activity at the Yacht Chandlers booth, company vice president James James said, "We saw more owners, captains and project managers through our booth than ever before, and new products like the U-Boat Worx SYS3 Submarine were a hit with our clients. We were very pleased with the turn out and the quality customers who made their way to our booth."
The world's largest in-water boat show, FLIBS covered seven locations with nearly 1,500 boats displayed across more than 3 million square feet of exhibit space. The show draws approximately 1,000 exhibitors from more than 30 countries that display an amazing array of boats, marine products and accessories, from astonishing super-yachts, fishing boats, runabouts and boats for every budget, to fishing gear, marine art, jewelry and more, all valued at more than $4 billion.
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was held at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel & Yachting Center, the Hall of Fame Marina, Las Olas Municipal Marina, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Sails Marina, Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Marina and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
Owned and presented by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and managed and produced by Show Management, the 56th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Showwas sponsored by Audi, Bank of America, BoatShowHotels.com, Budweiser, DASSAULT FALCON, G-Marine, GEICO, Gosling's Rum, Palm Harbor Marina, QuintEvents, Smallwoods Yachtwear, Sun Sentinel, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), and ULYSSE NARDIN.