Bigger can be better, but only sometimes. This is a lesson that organizers of the Miami International Boat Show learned last year, when the event moved to its new home at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key.
“It was three-quarters of a mile wide from west to east … just too big,” Ben Wold, executive vice president at the National Marine Manufacturers Association, says of the land portion of the show.
At the same time, though, attendees and exhibitors alike loved the in-water displays. Thus, for this year, “The land space will be smaller, but the in-water has grown,” Wold says. An extra 150 boats will be at this year’s show — for a total of 550 in-water. “About 100 of those are larger yachts, 50 to 80 feet, and some bigger than that,” Wold says. “Carver, Marquis, Tiara, Riviera, Absolute, Beneteau, a lot of those larger-yacht builders. Sea Ray is bringing 12 more boats in-water than they did last year.”
Pier 9 has been added to the in-water area to create a large-yacht zone that encompasses Piers 8 and 9. The VIP lounge will be there, along with champagne, a sushi bar and other upscale offerings.
Show Management also is refining transportation, bathrooms and food based on lessons learned last year. At the top of the list are more water taxis to meet the surprisingly high level of demand.
“We had seven routes last year, and we thought about 25,000 people would take them,” Wold says. “In fact, about 52,000 people took water taxis.”
Also expect displays unlike anything that was possible at the show’s previous convention-center home.
“What we’re seeing in the planning from the bigger companies is that some of the displays are going to be breathtaking,” Wold says. “In the past, we were kind of bound by concrete docks and pilings. Here, they’re putting their imaginations into play.”