By Dorie Cox
Yachts, crew and businesses should see increased amps, more bars and fresh planks on opening day today at this year’s 58th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS). That is to say, Informa has made significant investments to the show infrastructure.
This is the first year that Informa and Show Management are working in conjunction on the show. In March, the London-based Informa purchased Yachting Promotions, the parent company of Show Management, which manages and produces the show. Informa brings its experience as operators of about 200 industry events each year and as producers of the Monaco Yacht Show.
Andrew Doole, vice president/general manager for Show Management Informa, thinks the changes will make a big difference.
“[Cellular] speed should be vastly improved over last year,” Doole said. “We spent a lot of time with internet signals and added a lot of equipment at Bahia Mar.”
Displays inside the vendor tents have new flooring and new power configurations with more access for booths. Colin Lord, a project manager with Fairport Yacht Support, was on hand for yesterday’s setup at the U.S. Superyacht Association’s American Pavilion and noticed the new plastic flooring.
“Before, the floor was plywood and it became soft when it was reused,” Lord said. “This new floor is much more stable.”
In previous years, attendees stepped over many taped-down power cords, but this year’s new configuration is built around the edge of the inside of each tent.
“The perimeter power works great,” Lord said. “Before, there were towers with cables and wires running through the tent. This made it much easier to set up.”
Power cables and boxes have been replaced, and he said there were more outlets for vendors, he said.
Phil Purcell is executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), the show owner.
“The new electrical smart boxes should minimize disruption,” Purcell said. “You have to realize we’re building an entire city every show and these boxes move to all five [of Show Management’s] shows. There will always be challenges with six miles of dockage and things that are out in the elements.”
This year’s show will be easier to navigate with the introduction of color zones instead of the letter and number system. Patience Cohn, industry liaison with MIASF, has attended many boat shows and knows her way around. But for a first-time attendee, she said the 40-acre space can be overwhelming.
“In the old days there was an A dock at the south end of the show and an A dock at the north end at Las Olas,” Cohn said. “It did get confusing.”
To solve issues like that, urban design firm EDSA was hired to create the new wayfinding systems. The company knows how to move people easily and has designed for Disney, Doole said.
“We have also worked with them on Bahia Mar redevelopment plans, so they know the property intimately,” he said.
The office of Megan Lagasse, general manager at Bahia Mar Yachting Center, is on the water at the center of the show. She often helped people find their way during the show and thinks the colors will help visitors.
“I think the signage makes all the difference and the entrance looks great,” Lagasse said. “But it’s like anything else; it will take a year for people to embrace the change.”
Much of the show’s dockage is brought in and there are upgrades there, also. Composite boards are replacing wood.
“The company has built 125 new 40-foot docks,” Doole said. “We’re at 97 percent replacement and will be 100 percent for the Miami Yacht Show. And we’re re-decking a lot of the existing inventory. We have over a mile of new floating docks.”
“The new docks look great,” Lagasse said. “It makes it look like a real marina instead of a temporary one.”
Part of the impetus for upgrades to docks began with the show in Miami where local ordinances require encapsulated styrene on the water side of docks to prevent pieces of styrene breaking off into the water. Since that show and Palm Beach International Boat Show share the same docks with FLIBS, all will benefit, Doole said.
Fire prevention services have also been upgraded by Fire Ranger Marine in Fort Lauderdale, and security measures are enhanced at this year’s show.
“We have evaluated and updated procedures with the Marine Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security,” Purcell said. “They have always been there, they have always worked with us on some level – it has just been increased.”
The entrance gates will have metal detectors and bag checks, but attendees may not see other security measures.
“The goal is for them not to be seen,” Purcell said.
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today. Comments are welcome below.
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