by Bob Wonders
Spread over three venues, the Miami Beach Convention Centre, Miamarina at Bayside and the Sea Isle Marina alongside the Marriott Hotel on Biscayne Bay, the show attracted more than 2000 exhibitors.
Sea-Isle-marina - 2008 Miami International Boat Show
Despite a downturn in attendance of seven percent, both show organiser, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the industry in general appeared well satisfied with the 67th edition of the Miami International Boat Show.
Show Crowds in Convention Halls - 2008 Miami International Boat Show
In fact, several exhibitors I spoke with were surprised to hear that crowd figures were down.
US industry legend, Reggie Fountain, was one; “Down,” he said, “doesn’t look like it to me.
“We’re pretty happy with the visitors to the Fountain stand and there are definitely solid prospects among them,” he added.
Jon Viestenz, regional sales manager for Cruisers, Inc., said buyer quality was “impressive.”
“Our sales are definitely up on last year,” he said.
The Miami show is best described as “huge.”
2000 exhibitors, compare that with the 300 – 400 for the Sydney and Sanctuary Cove International Boat Shows and you get some idea of extent of the Miami exhibition.
Australia was well represented, with strong displays staged by Riviera and Maritimo prominent on the marina.
Aussies attending the show included Greg Haines (Haines Marine Group), Wes Moxey, Phil Candler, Stephen Milne and Errol Cain (Riviera), Peter Jenkins (Maritimo),David Hazlett (Avante Marine) and John Pfiefer, Ken Evans and David Meehan (Mercury Marine).
Pictured at the Maritimo display, left to right, former Melbourne-based Mercury executive Gary Dickman, now vice president worldwide marketing and sales for Cummins MerCruiser Diesel, John McCarthy, of Maritimo USA, Peter Jenkins, Maritimo sales and marketing manager and Alex Savelli, newly-appointed president and CEO of Cummins MerCruiser Diesel. - Miami show
I spent four days at the show and I can tell you now it’s simply not enough to see all on offer.
The three sites are linked by non-stop shuttle buses and one is constantly on the move keeping and making appointments at various displays.
From the Miami Beach Convention Centre, the show’s HQ, across to Miamarina at Bayside (a retail/restaurant development not unlike Sydney’s Darling Harbour) on to the Sea Isle Marina, it becomes a “shuttle bus-a-thon.”
The Sea Isle Marina would be an eye-opener to the average Aussie boat show visitor-unlike Australian boat shows, the air at the Sea Isle Marina is thick with the smell of gasoline and diesel fumes as manufacturers take dealers and interested buyers out on test runs.
The 'big gun' - NMMA president Thom Dammrich with industry identities Kelly Flory (left) and Laura Martin, who comprise Martin Flory Associates, the US industry's best-known communications group. - Miami show
Unlike our own show marinas, the boats are constantly on the go.
Again, unlike our own boat shows, Miami is very much a manufacturers’ show; it’s been said that more boats are sold (by manufacturers to dealers) in the bottom bar of the Marriott Hotel than anywhere else in the US.
With the US economy having been on somewhat shaky ground recently, I would imagine the NMMA would be well pleased with the overall result.
Riviera had recorded “very strong sales”, said Michael Scruggs, president of Riviera Yachts of the Americas stating that sales came from across the range.
The new Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht, featuring Volvo Penta’s IPS was unveiled and attracted plenty of admirers.
Peter Jenkins, sales and marketing manager for Maritimo, always plays his cards close, but admitted that the Allied Richard Bertram Marine Group, the company’s Miami distributor, was “extremely pleased” with the show’s results.
“In view of the current state of the economy we can honestly say we’ve exceeded our expectations,” he added.
The company displayed five models at the show, with the Sky Lounge concept and the specialised ‘battlewagon’ the 550 attracting strong interest.
Final crowd figures for the five-day show were listed as 128,018, the third successive year showing a decrease in attendance, albeit slightly.
This year, the weather was not entirely on side; heavy rain fell across Miami the day prior to the show opening, came again late afternoon of the fourth day and certainly had an effect on attendance on the final day, a public holiday (President’s Day) when rain fell throughout the day.
Attendance was on the rise for the first three days, but according to Cathy Rick-Joule, vice-president of Southern Shows for the NMMA, it was the weather that played a negative role.
“The rainstorm that began Sunday and persisted through the final day certainly contributed to the overall decrease in attendance,” she said.
Whatever attendance a Miami International Boat Show attracts, it remains the number one show on the NMMA calendar and for the US boating industry its importance can never be overlooked.
I have now probably been at 10, perhaps a dozen Miami shows and have found all informative and enjoyable.
Convention Centre views - 2008 Miami International Boat Show
This year, as is always the case, the industry heavyweights use Miami to unveil new products and over the next few weeks Powerboat-World readers will be able to catch up with all that happened at Miami, ’08.