For the first time, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) will open on a Wednesday and end on a Sunday this year, a move that was met by approval by exhibitors who reported that Monday traditionally is a “dead” day at the event. Wednesday, Nov. 1, is now the “Prime Time Preview” day with a ticket price of $46.50. On Nov. 2-5, admission will drop to $29 for adults, and $12 for children 6-15 years. Children under 6 are free.

Owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) and produced Informa Exhibitions, FLIBS is the largest boat show in the world in terms of gross exhibitor space and vessels on display. Here’s a look at the show by the numbers:

• 857,000,000-dollar-plus impact on Florida’s economy 

• 3,000,000-square feet of display space

• 100,000 attendees 

• 1,200 boats on display

• 1,000 exhibitors 

• 7 show venues.

Informa Exhibitions, which manages 200 exhibitions each year including the Monaco Yacht Show, recently announced plans to enhance the 2017 FLIBS and to support year-round interaction between consumers and exhibitors.

“Informa’s worldwide experience allows us to have a very deep understanding with regard to the unique needs of a marketplace such as FLIBS,” said Mary Bender, vice president of marketing for Informa Exhibitions’ Boating Group. “We feel that we are able to be responsive to the unique needs of the exhibitors and attendees alike and improve the experience for both.”

Informa Exhibitions’ investments will cover numerous aspects of the boat show from infrastructure improvements to innovative marketing, digital software and hotel-booking solutions. These include new plastic and fiberglass floating docks (half of which will be in place for the 2017 show), new electrical equipment, improved tent flooring, and new trucks. Improved graphics and signage will make navigating the show’s seven locations, and locating specific products, easier than ever before.

“The investments Informa Exhibitions is making in infrastructure, technology and the consumer experience will greatly enhance the show’s appeal to exhibitors, attendees and sponsors,” said Andrew Doole, general manager of Informa Exhibitions’ Boating Group. 

In addition, exhibitors, consumers and sponsors will start to benefit from the platforms and resources Informa Exhibitions provides to foster year-round connectivity. An example is the software that helps consumers plan and manage visits to the show with a “walking list” of exhibitors and products. Sales sheets, technical specifications, marketing materials and videos are easily downloadable by consumers year-round, and exhibitors can access information about customer searches for specific products.

The new advertising and marketing approach consists of a multi-channel advertising campaign with location remarketing and elevated involvement in community partnerships. Redesigned sponsorships, focused on value and sponsor ROI, offer a wide range of price points and new opportunities for guest-sponsor engagement.

New hotel contracting resources and planning options offer a mix of hotel brands and locations through an easy-to-manage reservation system with onsite support staff and concierge services for exhibitors and groups.

The Windward VIP Club Experience, located at the Hall of Fame Marina, also will return to FLIBS this year, offering the luxury of a private dining area, a premium open bar, gourmet food and meet-and-greet opportunities to you and your VIP clients. This air-conditioned sanctuary is the perfect place to network, close business, or simply relax between meetings.

Once again, a concierge will be on hand at the Windward Club to help book tour appointments for VIPs on yachts in the show that are available by appointment only. “That was a valuable feature of previous VIP programs,” Bender said. “Delmay Partners will be handling that for us this year.”

Each VIP Club Experience package includes show entry, Windward VIP Club access and access to the water taxi. The daily cost for the Windward VIP Club Experience is $225 per person.