Coming out of the recently concluded Miami International Boat Show, organizers are already claiming success. After years of being held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the show moved to the historic Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin this year on Florida's Virginia Key. The show is owned and produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
"The 2016 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show was a resounding success for exhibitors, attendees, recreational boating and South Florida,' says Thom Dammrich, NMMA President. "Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin was the ideal host to the best boat show I have ever experienced.'
Although an official number has not yet been released, Dammrich estimates attendance was over 100,000. "Attendance was very strong the first four days of the show with docks and aisles packed over the weekend,' relates Dammrich. "We expect a tally on attendance in the days ahead.'
Considering the sheer scale of the event, Dammrich admitted many lessons were learned during the show's debut at Miami Marine Stadium. "As we expected, we learned a lot with it being the first time at our new home and we made adjustments each day of the show – adding more shuttle buses and relocating water taxis, adding personnel, improving communication and signage, decreasing food service wait times, and much more.'
The show successfully filled aisles and docks throughout its duration. Boat manufacturers and dealers were very pleased with the proximity to the docks, which allowed them to send prospective customers out for a test drive without having to bus them to another site. There was a positive energy among exhibitors, many of whom were pleasantly surprised at how well the event turned out considering it was moved from an indoor convention center venue to an outdoor show under tents.
It's estimated that 85 to 90 percent of exhibitors and attendees took shuttle buses and water taxis to the show, which kept the Rickenbacker Causeway traffic flowing throughout the event.
However, it's clear show organizers still have a few logistical issues to perfect in the future, namely transporting people to and from the show grounds by shuttle bus and water taxi. Lines were long for the water taxi, with some waiting hours to get back to their hotels at day's end. The shuttle buses lines weren't as long but they were confusing. Shuttle destinations were not always clearly marked on arriving buses, forcing crowds to rely on audible instructions by show staff.
To their credit, show organizers have acknowledged the event's hiccups and are clearly working to improve the situation as both traffic flow and communication improved with each day of the show. "This show proved that Miami embraces park and ride –The plan works, we just need to apply more resources to it, which we'll do next year,' says Dammrich. "From transportation and signage to restrooms and food service – these are all very do-able and necessary improvements that we're already looking forward to implementing in our 2017 plans to make next year's show even better.
NMMA is seeking feedback from exhibitors to help enhance and improve the show in the future.