The 61st Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, from 28 October to 1 November, showcased hundreds of exhibitors and boats on display.
FLIBS demonstrated 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 sanitising stations and CDC signage posted throughout the event.
This year’s show still attracted quality buyers ready to purchase. 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.
“Our numbers are all incredibly positive, attendance of the first two days of the show was actually up 12 percent vs 2019,” said Federico Ferrante, President Azimut-Benetti Americas. “Overall attendance was down only 20 percent, 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.”
“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.”
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 normalised 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.”