Behind the Scenes: Andrew Doole sets a course for success, despite show challenges
Andrew Doole is president of Informa’s U.S. Boat Show division. Informa, which owns the Monaco Yacht Show, is the operator of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach international boat shows.
Andrew has navigated many boat show challenges since his first show, nearly four decades ago. Just the task of monitoring three million square feet of exhibit space and docks, hundreds of boats and vendors, and thousands of visitors is overwhelming. Then, add in the challenges he has seen over the years.
In 1982, the Fort Lauderdale show moved to Broward County’s Port Everglades. With proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the docks were affected by the water movement of the tide and current. Even with wave attenuators to reduce the moving water’s energy, the waves still rolled in, Andrew said during a pre-boat show Zoom call.
Then there were springtime boat shows complete with tornadoes. And one year there was a boycott of the show due to workers union issues.
Despite the seriousness of these predicaments, even more troublesome was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. “It looked like Hiroshima,” Andrew said.
And then, last year: the 2020 pandemic. But just like every year, the Informa group held course and the show went on.
This year, hopes are high, although finding temporary labor has been tough, according to Andrew.
“We started last year getting everything needed,” he said. “It is just more expensive.”
And international travel challenges have kept some of this year’s exhibitors and vendors out of the U.S. “Our most frustrating issue is the restriction on European travel as of November 1,” Andrew said. “We would have seen 10 or more that can’t be here. It’s a shame, but we hope they open offices here to get around that.”
There are a lot of moving parts, he said, and while they are trying to reach financial goals, exhibitors are still not back to normal inventory levels.
Nevertheless, Andrew has full expectation of a successful show. The good news for this year is that the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center is online, as is the Superyacht Village.
“That was missed last year,” Andrew said. “It’s the most convenient place for big-boat owners. They can meet there and take a water taxi to the rest of the show.”
Aside from the ongoing unforeseen surprises, Andrew retains confidence in boat show outcomes in the near future. Attendance sales, which continue to grow, were exceptionally strong this year, considering the challenges.
People like to comparison shop, and this is the only place to see all the products together, he said.