With less than a week before the sails are hoisted on the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, many local businesses are preening and prepping their wares to prepare for show time.
Among them are exhibiting marine businesses as well as companies that provide key services to exhibitors and show organizers such as event planners, transportation companies and florists.
For many, the show, which has a $500 million economic impact in South Florida, represents a significant slice of monthly or annual business.
The event attracts about 100,000 attendees annually, and this year runs from Thursday through Oct. 29 at six city sites.
“We’ve grown with the boat show over the years,” said Jason Wells, owner of Elite Tent Co. in Hollywood, which is providing more than 100 tents for the show this year, many for in-water barges.
For several years, Elite has worked with Show Management, the boat show’s producer, to provide some of the 300 smaller tents needed.
Elite also provides tents for three other Show Management-produced boat shows, in Miami, West Palm Beach and Sarasota, Wells said.
Combined, the boat shows account for 15 percent to 20 percent of Elite’s annual business, which Wells called “sizable.”
Show Management also gets additional tents from Regency Party Rentals in West Palm Beach and Diamonette Party Rentals in Doral.
“We use their entire inventory,” said Dane Graziano, a Show Management senior vice president of the three companies. “It’s the largest event they do annually.”
For North Miami-based Dockside Corporate Services, the boat show represents about 80 percent to 85 percent of the year’s business, said Doreen Ernst, vice president for operations. “Show Management and the boat show are our major clients.”
Dockside recruits, trains and manages all of the guest service greeters for the Fort Lauderdale boat show. This year, the company is working on four boat show projects for Show Management and one for the U.S. Superyacht Association, Ernst said.
Fort Lauderdale’s Doris the Florist is seeing an uptick in requests this year for floral arrangements for boat show pre-parties, yacht interior décor and exhibitor booths, owner Doris McGee said. “This year is better than it was last year.”
The show generates about 25% of yearly business, McGee said.
A 30% spike in demand for show accommodations in 2012 could bode well for area hotels, restaurants and transportation companies. “The boat show brings a tremendous amount of business for us,” said Freddy Bousquet, general manager of Oasis Café on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Already business is starting to pick up from exhibitors arriving early for the show, and the pace is expected to get busier when the show opens Thursday, Bousquet said. The yachting event is expected to bring in about 10-15% of October’s business, he said.
Water Transportation Alternatives Inc., which owns the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi, brought in four vessels from Boston this year. The vessels arrived earlier than usual so the company would have enough capacity to handle boat show transportation, a company official said.
Show Management will provide free riverboat rides from Las Olas Riverfront to the Bahia Mar Yachting Center for ticket holders, while the water taxi routes will cost $10 for a single day pass. It’ll have 13 boats operating during the boat show period; nine operate year-round.
“It’s really a unique way to experience the boat show, as you get to see the boats from the water,” Water Transportation partner Bill Walker said.
The signature show represents about 5 percent to 10 percent of annual business, Walker said, adding, “The boat show is a big ‘to-do.’”
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Arlene Satchell)