The first ever virtual Palm Beach International Boat Show opened this morning with a sounding of the horns at the virtually empty waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach.
Although the docks were full at the nearby Palm Harbor Marina, there were no floating docks along the seawall at Flagler Drive, no tent full of exhibitors, no outdoor exhibitors or food kiosks.
Instead about 800 vessels are featured on a new VirtualPBBoatShow.com site, some with virtual tours, most from builders in the small to mid-size cruising range. More than 50 seminars and educational videos are running virtually as well.
“It’s a shame to do it virtually, but we wanted to give something back to our exhibitors and our loyal attendees,” said Andrew Doole, president of Informa US Boat Shows, which produces the show in normal times and created the virtual experience this year. He noted during a press conference this morning aboard M/Y Quantum of Solace that more than 5,000 people had registered for the online show.
This new virtual platform likely will continue, he said. As Informa ramps up for the Fort Lauderdale show in late October and Miami next spring, Doole said the company plans to offer a virtual version of the shows leading up to their presumed physical openings, giving even more “attendees” an opportunity to engage with the boats and vendors in the shows.
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.