It’s the showcase season for boating and angling enthusiasts. Boat shows, such as the Fort Lauderdale International (FLIBS) currently underway, are prime opportunities to check out new and brokerage boats, engines, accessories and tackle. The events also provide seminars to learn advance angling techniques and give local economies a tremendous boost.

The recreational boating industry in Florida is a huge juggernaut, with nearly 6,100 businesses, more than 92,000 jobs and a $23.3 billion dollar impact in the state, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. FLIBS is billed as the largest in-water show in the world, with production/custom sport-fishers and mega-yachts prominently featured. As such, it is a prerequisite for companies like ECBC-sponsors Galati Yachts and Gulf Coast Hatteras to attend. The Miami International Boat Show, held in February during President’s Day weekend, supports more than 3,500 jobs in South Florida and the out-of-town visitors and exhibitors spend $53 million during the five-day run. The Palm Beach International Boat Show in late March is another popular stop for blue-water anglers. So boat shows are definitely big business. But that’s not all. They are ideal venues for potential buyers to comparison shop.

“Boat shows are the perfect opportunity for customers to truly narrow down choices between two or three brands,” says Todd Albrecht, president of Solace Boats. The company will debut its newest model, the 415 CS, at this year’s FLIBS. “Buyers can easily walk back and forth between exhibits to see what they like and dislike about specific models. You can’t really do that over the phone or by email.

“Shows also allow customers to get to know us and as a semi-custom builder, it allows us to learn how they will use the boat and tell them what modifications or features we can add so they can fully enjoy the purchase. Without that ability to look and touch, plus get answers directly from factory personnel, it would be difficult for us to grow as a company.” Solace Boats is represented by the Emerald Coast Marine Group in the Destin area.

Robin Forti Anderson owns Stealth Marketing and her team represents several prominent brands in the marine industry, including Jarrett Bay Boat Works, Bluewater Yacht Sales, Bausch Towers, Caterpillar Marine, gplink and Bluewater Desalination. Boat shows are an integral part of their success.

“If you’re looking for a new boat or gear, it’s important to see the latest and greatest,” Anderson explains. “Boat shows are the place for new model debuts, plus the launch of new gear and accessories. They allow buyers to look and touch to really get a feel for the quality between the options being considered.”

A custom builder like Jarrett Bay has limited production slots due to the current supply chain and labor issues, but meeting personally with factory reps still gives the opportunity to learn about the company’s offerings, workmanship and ability to customize. The companion service facility can also provide re-power and upgrade choices for existing boat owners.

Bluewater Yacht Sales sells several different brands of new and pre-owned fishing boats. Shows allow buyers to easily compare differences by speaking directly with the builders and often leads to on-site sales. The same holds true for a company like Bluewater Desalination, whose booth features a working unit to actually demonstrate the difference between competitors.

“In the marine market, people buy from people. And boat shows help connect people by showcasing new stuff,” Anderson adds.

Upcoming Events:

St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show
January 20-23, 2022

Jacksonville Boat Show
January 28-30, 2022

Miami International Boat Show
February 16-20, 2022

Palm Beach International Boat Show
March 24-27, 2022