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Many improvements come to the Miami boat show

With the successful Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show now in our wake and the opening today of the popular United States Powerboat Show in Annapolis, eyes are already focused on the iconic Progressive Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, as well as the revamped Yachts Miami Beach.

This week’s announcement that the traditional All-Industry Breakfast held during the show is being rebranded to the Innovation Breakfast is just the start of many improvements to be announced between now and when the show runs Feb. 16-10, 2017.

You’ll recall last year that the show was relocated to the Miami Marine Stadium Park on Virginia Key. It was an unprecedented move of such a huge exposition and, like the election results this week, those who said it couldn’t be done were amazed by its success.

“The move is behind us, so we are now concentrating on fine-tuning the show experience for everyone this year,” said Ben Wold, NMMA executive vice president and now show manager following the retirement of Cathy Rick-Joule, who led the show’s massive relocation. The first critical area Wold and his team have been focusing on is transportation.

While last year’s move to Virginia Key drew rave reviews overall, the large attendance sometimes overwhelmed the transportation system, particularly the run on the free water taxis that proved more popular than anticipated with exhibitors and the public alike.

“We will have a fleet of 25 water taxis versus the 17 last year,” Wold said. “There will be two taxis with a capacity of over 350 riders and five additional taxis that can carry over 200 passengers each. In addition, we’ll be placing more show staff on the ground at the water taxi departure points to assist show attendees.

“Last year,” Wold added, “we were geared up to transport 25,000 people by water taxi, but we really underestimated how popular the water taxi system would be. So we found ourselves actually moving nearly 50,000. We’re going to be more than ready this year. With our additional capacity, we will be capable of moving up to 125,000 people by water.”

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In another positive move, Strictly Sail Miami secured the coveted waterside location for its main exhibit. Strictly Sail Miami is held in the popular Miamarina at Bayside on Miami’s downtown waterfront.

The waterside location is ideal for exhibitors and attendees because of its proximity to the in-water display docks. Planned construction and renovations to the adjacent Bayside Marketplace next year would have precluded use of the waterside location. However, good news arrived for the Strictly Sail team when it was learned the scheduled renovations won’t begin until later in 2017.

Finally, hotel room blocks for the Miami show are now open and it’s advisable to book reservations now while good choices are still available. Last year, all designated show hotels were sold out well before February.

In addition, Yachts Miami Beach will return in 2017 with a completely revamped layout, several entrances, beefed-up transportation to get attendees to and from the show and the ability to walk the show from the docks, not just the sidewalk.

The show, formerly free for visitors, will cost $20 to attend.

“We hired EDSA, a firm that does design work for Disney and other high-end locations and resorts,” said Brett Keating, marketing vice president for Show Management, the company that co-owns and produces the show. “They have this amazing ability to take an existing site and put a fresh look and feel [on it], and work with landscaping and the flow.”

The two shows run concurrently, but are completely separate and have different owners. Show Management and Trade Only Today are part of Active Interest Media.

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