Triton Survey: More say they won’t attend FLIBS2020

Oct 5, 2020 by Lucy Chabot Reed

By Lucy Chabot Reed

The latest update to our industry-wide survey reveals that almost 60% of the 560 people who took part will not attend the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, set to open in three weeks.

According to comments left by almost 200 of our participants, the reasons range from fear of the disease to simply not being able to physically get there because of travel restrictions. Others wondered if it would be worth the risk, considering both attendance and exhibitor participation was expected to be lower than normal.

An additional 11.4% indicated they were not yet sure if they would attend.

Exactly 20% said they would attend, with an additional 8.9% attending as exhibitors.

Just 1.4% indicated they would be attending as working crew.

Compared to the first time we pulled the results from this survey on Sept. 8, more said they would not attend (58.2% now vs. 51.84% on Sept. 8) and fewer said they would attend as attendees (20% now vs. 24.47% then).

The following 67 comments are part of nearly 200 that participants left on our survey. (To read previous ones, read our story from a month ago.) We felt it was important to share them unedited. A few have been deleted as being inappropriate.

Absolutely not a smart idea to have this show! 

Not worth the risk! 

As an exhibitor, we think it makes no sense to pay all the expenses and maybe we’ll have no clients. 

Do not want to [attend] but we will lose our seniority points and lose our booth location in coming years if we don’t. 

I believe that COVID-19 is real, and do not wish to be exposed to crowds of people at this point in my life. 

Even with the “AllSecure” protocols in place, I just don’t know how you can guarantee people’s safety. 

I will follow all safety procedures and will to be greeting anyone with traditional handshakes or cheek kisses. As long as everyone gives 100% effort to follow guidelines, the show must go on.

Not worth catching COVID to attend.

I think that it is irresponsible to have such a spreader event.

Only because I’m forced to as an exhibitor and mandated by my employer. This is the worst idea during current times. Anybody follow Sturgis? How’d that work out? 

We used to exhibit in this show every year, but not this year. Many international boat shows are cancelled because of the pandemic. I won’t feel safe going to the show. Better wait until it’s safe for mass gatherings. I don’t feel that it is responsible and a smart move to continue the show this year. 

It is impossible to maintain every vessel clean after each customer. This show unfortunately will kill more people. Florida will not be able to handle it. I would love to go as I have done it for over 30 years and never miss the Ft. Lauderdale boat show and Palm Beach. 

Don’t want to go to a super spreader event.

With this being an election year, sales will be down, as usual. Consumers do not spend until after the election. No international customers, and domestic customers are reluctant to fly. Don’t think this year will be a good show. 

At this point in time, with protests/riots, COVID and the election, FLIBS is the last place you would find me. The city and the show must be nuts. 

The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases and deaths, and there’s a reason why the US is so far behind the rest of the world in resuming any kind of “normal” life. Hosting FLIBS in the middle of a global pandemic is a fine summary. 

I have been working in yachting as crew for six years. I usually attend FLIBS as a crew member, and have been to the show most years. This year, I will purposefully be avoiding FLIBS as well as staying out of the area for a week before and after the show due to health concerns with a large in-person event. You can have all the safety precautions you want but the fact is that there is a significant deadly virus continuing to spread among the U.S. population and will likely see a massive increase in infection rate during flu season. The people of Florida have continually ignored science and flouted safety precautions; FLIBS is not going to change that. The absolute No. 1 reason to not go to FLIBS: no one will be there. International travel will be heavily restricted, U.S. states will continue to impose strict quarantines on residents who travel to Florida, and fans with any high risk factor health conditions will stay home. More importantly, in my opinion, most yachts that are able to will avoid U.S. waters for much of the winter due to the extreme danger, cost, and inconvenience of a crew member getting COVID and the terrible U.S. response to the disease. 

Boat Owners Warehouse is known at the boat shows for handing out the bright orange BOW bags and the coupons. The new Informa regulations for safety/sanitation reasonings is to refrain from handing out literature and bags. So we will be setting up an unmanned partial booth display this year. A QR code will more than likely be displayed for a coupon, instead of a physical print out. We feel we shouldn’t put the employees at risk to work in the booth at this year’s boat show. 

Very irresponsible of them to have this event. It is obvious that Florida cannot control itself with regard to the COVID virus.

Seems a bit irresponsible to get in a plane to fly cross country to attend a show, not to mention with 8% exhibitor support? This would be the first time in 15 years that I would not be attending. 

This is going to be a super spreader event. It doesn’t make sense to kill or seriously injure your current and future customers for a marketing event. Some customers and event hosts will have lifelong disabilities if they go. Just outright greed on the part of the show organizers. As a captain and adviser to owners, I have told them to stay as far away as they can from Fort Lauderdale for the next three months. 

I was all for the Holland America cruise ships allowed to dock and disembark infected and non-infected passengers, and it was done safely under strained circumstances at the beginning of the pandemic. That said, to have an international event like the boat show seems like a wrong decision at this point. The attendance, or lack thereof, will be interesting. 

I will only attend if my company forces me to. I think South Florida is not in a position to host a boat show, and it will no longer be effective as international companies will not attend. It is a shame some people in this county value money over the health of the community. 

I fly in from out of town each year. I will not be attending this year, for the first time in 10 years. 

Seavision has cancelled and, although we support getting back to normal ASAP, we agree with the Nautical Structures statement regarding safety and responsibility. Continuing with FLIBS is a bad reflection on an industry that relies on good public perception. 

Normally, each year, the owner of the yacht schedules a trip to Fort Lauderdale on board his yacht (47m) during FLIBS. We secure dockage well in advance at Sunrise Harbor at a special pre-obligated, increased rate. This year, we have not committed to anything due to the current pandemic circumstances and we are treating FLIBS as if it will be canceled or not a good show due to the lack of interest or uncertainty. Our group has not been worried about the pandemic affecting us; usage is up and travel (local/east coast NE/international) has been busy. Personal use seems to be something we find acceptable, but throwing a huge event (while all other events are canceled) just for the elite seems a bit pompous and unfair to the other community members who can’t afford the risk of a massive breakout. We realize that though there is good turnout to FLIBS, not everyone benefits from the risks. 

Are they nuts? This is a super-spreader event. It’s like playing Russian roulette, but put four cartridges in instead of one. 

We need to support our industry. If everyone abides by the rules, it will be safe. 

Maybe the outside exhibits, but definitely not in any of the closed tents. Hope FLIBS allows entry to outside areas separate from tents this year. 

Apart from the obvious danger of COVID-19, I am guessing that foreign vendors, exhibitors and visitors will not be able to attend by the fact that it is not easy to fly into the States. Quite frankly, if I was living in Europe or elsewhere, why would I even want to come here with the lack of understanding of the disease and the consequences? There will not be any parties to go to anyway! 

We have downsized our booth and will reduce our shop staff from 6 to 2, maybe only 1. 

Not attending due to travel restrictions to and back US/Germany, and the COVID-19 situation in Florida. 

I am across the country and cannot make it home at this point.

This will be the first time in 30 years I have not attended FLIBS. With the current rate of infections, and 1,000 people a day dying from COVID, I will not get on a plane or potentially expose myself at a boat show. I believe it is irresponsible to have the show and expose more people to the virus. 

For those of us marine industry professionals who have to fly in, it is not only the safety protocols at the show but our entire environment — airports, shuttles, hotels, crowded water taxis, restaurants. Too many chances for exposure. I have not missed a FLIBS in 25 years but South Florida is still too much of a risk. 

As an independent exhibitor, the expense doesn’t justify my perceived return on investment. I think attendance is going to be way off. 

I will go only if my employer requires me to attend. I think Informa and MIASF forget the “international” in the show’s name. People won’t be able to travel who normally would and even if they could, given that Florida is the third state in the nation in terms of the number of reported COVID-19 cases and number of related deaths, it probably does not look too enticing right now anyway. And who is going to enforce the mask rules? Is Informa? The Fort Lauderdale Police Department? Do buyers have to come to a public show to see a boat they may want to buy? I believe they don’t, and many would rather not. Smaller boat dealers are running out of inventory or so I hear. Skip it this year and come back better next year. 

Absolutely crazy for the show to be open during a pandemic. The close proximity of people on docks and touring boats and viewing exhibits makes this show especially dangerous. 

Not a hoping chance in hell I will go to the U.S. 

We are shopping for a small boat and think will be easier to shop than previous years due to a small crowd. We will wear our masks and stay safe. 

Informa should be forced to donate the huge profit they make to save the lives of all the people that get sick as a result of the show. 

Unfortunately FLIBS organizers put money first instead of health.

As a Dutch company, we aren’t able to visit the boat show like we did for multiple years now.

Attending, but we will not be in the show this year. 

I am concerned the show will contribute to increased cases and affect tourism in general for the rest of the season. Also how it will affect our elderly residents. 

Face shields for everyone and sanitizer cuts the risk to 1.5%. Safe show or no show.

Were I even able to enter the U.S., there is no way I would be attending this year. It is not worth the risk to my life or the life of anyone else. Perhaps many Americans are not aware that non-U.S. citizens cannot currently enter the U.S. And to the person who wrote “See no reason not to. COVID is a joke”, I suggest that person talk to those who have lost family / friends to this virus or those who are working in hospitals caring for those who are suffering. Perhaps then that person and all others who say they will attend, will be less selfish. 

Are they simply holding out so that event insurance kicks in? It’s just incredible to me that there would be any other reason to keep up this charade. Serious buyers and their brokers already know what’s out there on the market. Small vendors packed in the tents may lose out but do we really need to put people at risk by forcing them through the usual gauntlet of T-shirts and gadgets? Personally I’m not planning to go this year under any circumstances. Catching COVID-19 on a crowded dock or herded like cattle through tents just isn’t in the cards. See you all next year I hope.

Just like we learned how to function in a 9-11 world, we need to learn to function in a COVID world. We can’t stay shut down forever. And we can’t shut down again and again if we have a COVID-20 and a COVID 21 … 

Informa may be forgetting who pays for the show. It’s not the people who walk the docks for entertainment; it’s the yacht owners. When a yacht can be a COVID-free, safe environment for an owner and his/her family, it’s difficult to recommend to an owner that he expose his/her yacht, crew and family. 

Outdoors, yes, but the throngs of attendees make social distancing impossible … not good.

Sorry but my family’s health is just too important at this time. Not worth the risk. There is simply no way to make sure health comes first at such a large event gathering. 

Go ahead. Let’s get the show on. 

Just not a good idea. There are other ways to see yachts that are safer for all involved until we get through this. 

COVID is no joke. Anyone who has a family or friend affected will attest to that. Yachts for sale with serious buyers can still show them.

I live in South Florida and FLIBS is a huge show. I already have issues with people standing too close to me in the line at a grocery store. I don’t have faith that people will follow social distancing rules. 

Brings too much revenue to the city to cancel. Locals rely on the boat show every year to keep their business afloat. 

I am not comfortable with the boat show continuing when so many large gatherings have already been canceled for the year. The last thing we need is for this to come back and it sends the wrong message. 

I haven’t missed a show in 35 years, but without a proven vaccine candidate the general population is still too complacent about the care needed to effectively stop the spread of the virus. I will skip the show for this year without the aforementioned. 

No, definitely not this year, but hopefully next. I don’t feel it is safe enough as of yet. 

Fantasy Fest in Key West is cancelled, so is the Winterfest Boat Parade. The music festivals have all been cancelled. The boat show needs to be cancelled also.

I was going to attend until I saw an email from FLIBS saying that first responders are being given free tickets. These are people who are closer than anybody to being exposed to COVID and possibly carry\ the virus. As much as I respect the efforts of first responders during the pandemic, I don’t feel comfortable being in a social environment with what will for sure be a large amount of them. 

I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a boat show during a pandemic, as there is no safe way to do so. Moreover I don’t feel that during an pandemic when people are struggling to get by a boat show should happen. In order to have a boat show, they kick the commercial boats out of the marina, which means that during a pandemic the people who were already struggling are once again out of work, just so some fat cats can buy another yacht that they will use once and then dock somewhere and forget about. 

I have attended/exhibited at FLIBS for over 15 years. I currently live in an area with very few COVID cases, and Florida is a hot spot. If I were to attend the show, I would then have to quarantine in my home (or face a massive fine) for 14 days. 

With the number of cases and death so high in Florida, it is irresponsible to hold the event. To expect attendees and visitors to physically distance and wear masks shows that the organizers have either not paid attention or just hope for the best. 

This only can hurt small businesses already operating under restrictions. If a spike occurs then all small businesses have longer restrictions. The boat show comes in and out in five days. Be smart. Next year have the show. 

We can’t afford to pay full price to exhibit to 50-80% less attendees and likely 100% less international attendees. 



About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Lucy Chabot Reed →