1 Jun 2012
FLIBS to reveal a 10-year makeover
This year the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) will be commencing a major 10-year strategic evolution in its organisation and service provision to improve the experience of buying visitors and exhibitors to the show.
The Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), which owns the show, has been working closely with FLIBS producer Show Management to elevate the quality of FLIBS in 2012, said Carlos Vidueira, MIASF Executive Director.
The ongoing work has included extensive surveys of those who take part in FLIBS last year – from brokers and exhibitors to the yacht buyers themselves – to deliver an ever-improving platform over the next decade. According to Vidueira, the feedback from all parties was very similar.
“The number one reason that boat buyers come to the show is to have fun, so we have looked at what we can to do to make the show ‘fun’, which has not been a main focus in the past. We are going to focus more time and attention on creating the right ambiance and environment by using fun to make the buyer more excited and willing to participate,” said Vidueira, talking exclusively with SuperyachtNews.com a day before Show Management presents the new vision at the MIASF annual meeting tomorrow.
At last year’s FLIBS, organisers took their first steps in changing the show format by introducing the SYBAss floating dock, which had its own hospitality and provided a more exclusively superyacht-focused hub for SYBAss members to entertain prospective clients as well as showcase their vessels. Vidueira says that this was the start of a new “village” feel to the show that will provide each market segment with the best experience possible. Over the coming years, he envisages that the different markets catered to by the show will have their own unique feel, but each of these markets is similarly important to the organisers.
“Each market segment should be treated with equal regard and concern, for all types of boating. Today’s 30-foot boat buyer is tomorrow’s megayacht buyer. You have to evolve the buyers and educate them that the best environment to purchase a vessel is at a boatshow,” he explained. “We will be working on a wide range of areas from the logistics and the infrastructure to the facilities and fun experience.”
Rather than looking to replicate any existing boatshows, the MIASF and Show Management has visited successful multi-demographic events outside yachting such as the Sundance Film Festival and Sony Ericsson Open to look for improvements that can be transferred to the boatshow. In particular, Vidueira notes that updating the catering and weather protection will be improved in 2012, as well as bus transportation to and from the show, parking and strategic bathroom locations throughout the site.
FLIBS has been plagued by unpredictable weather in recent years, which can spell disaster for visitor numbers. Acknowledging this, Vidueira says the organisers are preparing for downpours of the same magnitude as in 2011, and scenes of visitors wading through ankle-deep water and power shortages will never again be repeated.
“Last year a lot of the problems caused by the rain were related to drainage, which could have been much better. A lot of the precautions that have not been taken in the past are going to be taken this year. There’s not much you can do about the rain, but once it gets to the ground there is a lot you can do.
What happened with the flooding in and around the tents is completely unacceptable and it won’t happen again.”
He concluded that, although it will take time for the full evolution of FLIBS to take place, it is a process that also requires co-operation from exhibitors to fully realise the potential of this major buying platform in the industry’s calendar, which is and aims to remain the largest boatshow in the world in terms of square footage. The MIASF and Show Management will not be forcing change on exhibitors, but they hope that with a coordinated effort all involved will see positive results and, ultimately, higher levels of sales.
“We understand that we might get a negative reaction from some of the vendors if we force a change on them too quickly and without them understanding our objectives. If groups are reluctant to change then we will focus on adapting other sectors of the market at the show, which should hopefully persuade all the exhibitors that we are looking to push the show in a positive direction. Our philosophy is to elevate the quality of everything at the show.”
Photo credits: Forest Johnson
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