FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2020) – Representing the first major marine event to take place since April, the 61st Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the largest in-water boat show in the world, gathered locals and visitors alike from Oct. 28 – Nov. 1 to attend the five-day outdoor show with hundreds of exhibitors and boats on display across nearly 90 acres and six city sites.
With Informa’s comprehensive AllSecure health and safety standards in place, FLIBS showcased a safety-first boat show experience with a multitude of show enhancements and new guidelines enforced throughout the show. These measures included mandatory face coverings and social distancing, a contactless ticketing system, added and expanded entrances, widened docks, ongoing cleaning of all areas before, during and after each day’s events, plus numerous hand sanitizing stations and CDC signage posted throughout the event.
This year’s show was a testament to the pent-up demand to get out on the water drawing quality buyers ready to purchase and anxious to get outdoors to see new product and meet with brokers, manufacturers and marine suppliers they have not been able to meet with this year. As boating has gained popularity since March with record-setting boat sales in the U.S., early reports from FLIBS’ exhibitors show the continued trend, with many reporting numerous sales, quality buyers and new prospects.
“FLIBS has been a huge success for us, especially considering the challenging circumstances, and has exceeded our expectations in sales activity and attendance,” said Pat Healey, Viking Yachts President and CEO. “In the first three days, we sold more than a dozen boats between Viking and Valhalla Boatworks, including two 92s and a 68. Our new product has done extremely well, with two Viking 54s and Valhalla 46s selling as well. Informa has done a tremendous job keeping the event safe and fun for everyone. FLIBS is an extremely important part of the industry and we support it 100 percent.”
“Our numbers are all incredibly positive, attendance of the first two days of the show was actually up 12% vs 2019,” said Federico Ferrante, President Azimut-Benetti Americas. “Overall attendance was down only 20%, which given the circumstances is an achievement. Last, but surely not least, we contracted 16 units at the show, which is only slightly less than our average FLIBS!”
“Even though this is a scaled down event, it has proven to be one of the best shows for HMY in a long time,” said Tim Derrico, Director of Sales, HMY Yachts. “While the crowd has been moderate, most people are yacht owners or buyers. We have contracted more yachts than expected.”
“The first three days at FLIBS have far surpassed our expectations. Informa’s communication and safety protocols has ensured attendees feel safe to attend,” said Sally Doleski of Alexander Marine and Ocean Alexander. “The clients who have visited our booth and toured our products have been highly qualified buyers, and the ability to debut our newest yacht models to serious buyers is priceless. We have two contacts and deposits from the show so far, including a sale to a new client who we would have not met if we did not participate in the show this year.”
“From the start of set-up, the tone of the show was undoubtedly different, but it was clear to me that the Informa team was intent on ensuring a safe environment for all exhibitors and attendees,” said James Noble, Vice President and Marketing Director, Princess Yachts Americas. “All of this was extremely positive, and even above and beyond expectations. We have seen outstanding sales success and activity as a result of the show. As of Saturday, we had seven yachts under contract, and a number of strong leads to follow up on that we believe will result in outstanding sales results. Even better, there is a sense of urgency in the activity that you would not normally see during a major election year.”
“FLIBS 2020 will be one show that none of us in the marine industry will ever forget – and not just because of the masks and the hand sanitizer – but also the busy docks, the contracts that came in when nobody expected it, and an overwhelming sense of community,” said Bob Denison, Denison Yachting. “Our brokers, marketing team, and support staff all had a fun and safe boat show. We sold more boats and yachts than we expected. From day one to day five, the docks were buzzing. The show made life here in South Florida feel sort of normal again. As a local kid, I don’t remember an October here in Fort Lauderdale without the boat show. The entire Denison family is grateful that the show took place. Not only was it a good event for the city at large, it was meaningful to thousands of small business like ours.”
“FLIBS delivered steady traffic of qualified buyers,” said McKenzie Johnstone of MJM Yachts. “This was a strong show in challenging circumstances. We sold several boats during the show and will close several more in the weeks following. We extend our appreciation to Informa for putting the show together in a safe and effective manner for exhibitors and attendees.”
“We saw more customers in our booth than we expected,” said Robert Nye, Sales and Brand Manager for Aviara Boats. “The traffic isn’t as high, but there is a much higher percentage of buyers truly looking to buy a boat and we were able to spend more quality time with buyers. Organizers have done a great job preparing for the event.”
“The show has massively exceeded expectations with higher than anticipated boat sales,” said John Caballero, Sales and Marketing Director for Sea Vee Boats. “The attendees were much more qualified this year than in years past.”
“The AquaZone at FLIBS has been huge for us to demonstrate our product live in the water and has captured the attention of all and brought buyers to our booth,” said Rudi Miklosvary, General Manager of US, FLITEBOARD. “The quality of attendees has improved from last year; we saw more real buyers and less folks coming to simply look. We expect to meet or exceed our number of units sold over last year. We are also very impressed with the contactless ticketing, COVID protocols and adherence to mask wearing at the event and are grateful that we’re able to do the event in a safe and responsible way. The onsite cleaning has been exceptional.”
Attendees were also impressed with the product at FLIBS as well as the safety protocols.
“I always go to a boat show with intent to buy boats and I bought two boats at the show. I bought a 32 meter Ocean Alexander and a smaller outboard Ocean Alexander 45 feet,” said John Staluppi, auto magnate and boating enthusiast. “I knew the show organizers were trying to be as careful as possible. I knew I was coming, but I felt better once I arrived and saw everything, I felt really good about it.”
Additionally, early reports from local business leaders have also demonstrated the show’s economic impact for the hospitality industry and area businesses. In 2019, FLIBS generated an economic impact of $1.3 billion to the state of Florida and more than 8,000 full-time jobs were associated with the show.
“We are so pleased that FLIBS took place this year,” said Tim Petrillo, CEO and Co-Founder of The Restaurant People, which owns 12 restaurants in the area. “While it was not as big as previous years, it was by far our best week since we were allowed to re-open due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing our businesses get back to somewhat normalized levels gives our entire team hope that there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel we have been thrust into. I am grateful that FLIBS pushed forward to host the event this year, when almost all other events have cancelled until next year. Their leadership shows that these types of events can be executed in a safe, responsible manner and will pave the way for other events to be hosted in our destination…which our tourism industry desperately needs during this very challenging time.”
“Our occupancy at the hotel on opening day was approximately 80 percent,” said James D. Tate, CEO of Tate Capital, which owns the Bahia Mar Resort Hotel & Marina (along with the Rok family). “The following two days (Thursday and Friday) was over 96 percent and Saturday was approximately 80 percent. Prior to FLIBS, our average weekly occupancy was approximately 31 percent.”
FLIBS kicked off the 61st show with an inaugural ribbon cutting ceremony featuring speeches by Andrew Doole, President of Informa Markets U.S Boat Shows, Phil Purcell, CEO/President of Marine Industries Association of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Steven Glassman, Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, and Stacy Ritter, President & CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
An additional highlight of this year’s FLIBS included the return of NBC Sports Group, who filmed a one-hour network special which aired on Sunday, Nov.1 at 4:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network, on demand via NBC Sports and NBC Sports YouTube. The special reached over 90 million U.S. households and covered behind-the-scenes and insider’s view of the 61st annual show highlighting FLIBS’ magnitude, extraordinary vessels, debuts, technical innovations and performance reviews as well as the luxurious lifestyle attractions. The segment also provided an inside look at Viking Yacht’s 54 Convertible, which was crowned the 3rd annual Best of Show winner.
FLIBS 2021 will take place from October 27-31, 2021.