Four days of picture-perfect weather set the stage for the 33rd annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, welcoming more exhibitors and guests than ever before to the spectacular display along Flagler Drive.
Held this year from Thursday, March 22, through Sunday, March 25, the show is an annual mainstay of the global yachting community and is known to attract high-level boat buyers, charter clients and sport fishing enthusiasts.
A steady stream of shoppers and browsers throughout the weekend contributed to a 7.5 percent increase in gate attendance over 2017. Boating enthusiasts had more to see, with the number of boats in the water for sale, both new and used, up 6 percent.
"Blessed with amazing weather that set the backdrop for four days of serious sales, we finished the show significantly up in both units and dollars," said Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer for MarineMax. "The location, coupled with a considerable product commitment by the dealers and manufacturers, made the customer experience second to none. This show somewhat symbolizes the end of the show season and it closed with a bang!"
The show has been on a steady path of growth. In 2017, attendance increased 9.5 percent over the 2016 show. The number of exhibitors continues to grow an average of 5 percent year over year and the number of boats on display has increased 12.5 percent since 2015, with new boats on display driving the growth.
"Every major boat show has its own special appeal, and for the Palm Beach show, it's the beautiful setting in a world-famous destination at the most beautiful time of year that distinguishes it from the rest," said Andrew Doole, general manager of the show for Informa, the show's producer. "Many of the world's most renowned shipyards prize the show as a platform for conducting business with the global elite."
Chuck Collins, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, which owns the show, added, "This could have been the best year for the show we've ever had. We spoke to numerous guests and everyone said they were having a wonderful time."
"In many years of doing the Palm Beach boat show, this is the most enthusiastic crowd I've seen and thanks to fantastic weather, the traffic flow was consistent and qualified," said Alberto Galante, president and CEO of G Marine, the Fort Lauderdale dealer of Evo Yachts. "We were even able to secure a deal with a local prospect who saw the boat in the show's directory."
Exhibitors of all types of products reported qualified buyers and strong sales.
"Exhibiting in the Palm Beach boat show provided us with a prime opportunity to promote our many options for keeping boaters connected while at sea," said Mimi Desantis, maritime business development manager for Atlantic Radio Telephone. "It was a very busy and productive show for us and we are looking forward to what next year will bring."
Timothy Hamilton, director of Lurssen Americas, said, "This was our first year displaying at the Palm Beach show and what a pleasant show it is! We like the show's setting, the town of Palm Beach, and the overall experience for our clients. The clients we met were talking about building new boats, which is a good sign. The weather was perfect and the timing works with yachts ending the winter season here and preparing to cross to the Med. We like this boat show and hope to see it continue to grow as a significant event on the U.S. yachting calendar."
In addition to the large selection of boats and exhibits, the show offered fun and educational activities for the whole family, including free youth fishing clinics by non-profit Hook the Future and IGFA School of Sportfishing seminars.
"The Hook the Future Kids Fishing Clinics were packed with excited young anglers eager to learn what it takes to catch fish and have fun with their families. I'm happy to say that we were able to give away hundreds of rod and reel combos to ensure their success!" said Don Dingman, founder of Hook the Future.
True to its position on environmental and community stewardship, Informa, the show's producer, arranged activations at the show designed to educate the public on sea level rise, promote animal adoptions, and raise money for local charities.
Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control found new, safe homes for 11 cats and dogs at the event, and through a ticket sales partnership with Bennett Auto, the show raised $35,000 for Sheridan House Ministries and the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation.