FLIBS: Bigger and better than ever

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The 2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is rolling out some features that will brand the show as a world-class event, treat showgoers to VIP amenities, and offer fun and entertainment to exhibitors and their clients.

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Show Management, which produces the show, has launched a streamlined, easy-to- navigate and mobile-compatible consumer website (flibs.com) with detailed maps of the show and information about it: exhibitors, boats on display, nearby hotels, parking and transportation, events and seminars, and package deals. (Show Management and Soundings are part of Active Interest Media’s Marine Group.)

For visitors who like to preview the boats on display before they attend the show, the website’s exhibitor pages are richer in content now, with photos of the boats, their specifications and their locations at the show, says Brett Keating, Show Management’s vice president of consumer marketing. And for those who want to go to the website during the show, there will be free Wi-Fi this year, she says. Also, the free My BoatShow mobile device app (downloadable at the App Store and Google Play) is a handy tool for navigating the show.

The website also introduces a new logo — a rectangle encompassing a large stylized “FL” with “Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show” in smaller letters beneath. “We are thrilled to roll out a sophisticated new website and comprehensive branding package that reflects the world-class status of the show,” Keating says.

Scheduled for Nov. 5 to 9 (Thursday through Monday) this year to steer clear of the most active part of the hurricane season, the show also is introducing white-glove service — for a price — through a VIP Boat Show Experiences program similar to ones at the Super Bowl and NASCAR. For $399 a person per day for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, or $1,099 for a three-day VIP pass, a ticketholder is treated to the convenience of onsite valet parking, entry to the boat show and all-day access to the Windward Club, an air-conditioned VIP lounge at the Swimming Hall of Fame with a gourmet food buffet, private dining and a premium open bar. VIPs also will have access to a dedicated concierge to schedule private show events, including reservations for “intimate” yacht tours.

“Forty percent of the people who come to you are C-level executives [CFOs, CEOs, COOs, CTOs] or business owners,” Brian Learst, CEO of QuintEvents, the VIP services provider, told exhibitors. “Your clients want this kind of experience.”

QuintEvents, known for delivering experience packages at events such as the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game, is partnering with Show Management to provide VIP Boat Show Experiences. “They draw a level of clientele that’s very similar to yacht buyers,” says Keating. “We’re looking to them to tap into their database of high-net-worth clients to get more people to come to the show.”

In addition to seminars on sport fishing, free diving, spearfishing, paddleboarding and underwater photography at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, Yachts International magazine will host two seminars by Annapolis, Maryland-based maritime lawyer Todd Lochner: “Staying Two Steps Ahead of the Tax Man” and “How to Hire a Captain and Crew.”

“This is an exciting year as we roll out enhancements designed to make this the best show ever,” says Keating. “We’re elevating the overall experience in many different ways.”

The Fort Lauderdale boat show will feature 1,500 boats on display, 1,200 exhibitors and exhibits ranging over 3 million square feet of space at seven venues — Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel & Yachting Center, Hall of Fame Marina, Las Olas Municipal Marina, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Sails Marina, Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Marina and the convention center. From the 312-foot Lürssen yacht Kismet to fishing boats, runabouts, inflatables, accessories, fishing gear, marine art and jewelry, the products on display will have an estimated value of $4 billion.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue.