What REALLY happened at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Flights checked-in, rental cars picked up, hotels booked, traffic jams everywhere and boat show passes ready. This year’s 2020 FLIBS was almost the most “normal” thing about this year. 

We can all remember when we were at the Miami International Boat Show, we wondered what exactly could this Coronavirus be? Questions swirled around: “Is it going to affect me?” “Should I even be shaking someone’s hand?” Many thought, “Nah… Let’s pick up some Purell from CVS and move along.” A month later, the whole world shut down and we said goodbye to boat and industry shows for the rest of the year, that is until this past week when FLIBS 2020 kicked off.

If you missed the boat show this year, I am here to fill you in! It was very similar to how your local grocery stores are set up right now: markers were decorated all over the floor, reminding attendees to be six feet apart; masks being mandatory to wear (even when walking around outside); hand sanitizer at every corner; and the event being more spacious, to accommodate people being spread out. The boat show directors did an excellent job enforcing the regulations. They had mask “police” at every corner. The moment someone took off their mask, they were approached and reminded to “please put your marks on, as they are mandatory throughout the show.” While normally you would see handshakes, they were instead replaced with fist bumps or elbow taps. 

As you strolled the docks, you saw people wearing “sanitizer crew” shirts. These were privately hired cleaning crews in all of the major booths, such as on the Intrepid dock. You would see a visitor go on a boat, and as soon as they stepped off, a sanitizer crew member gets on and disinfects all the major touchpoints. Even the porta-potties had sanitizing crews that would clean the stalls often to keep germs to a minimum. Some booths had waiting areas where people would stand in line to go in because they were limiting the number of people in an area at a time. All booths had their own hand sanitizers in every corner, and bottles of sanitizer were the most company found handouts at the show (along with branded masks). Many companies even replaced printed pamphlets with QR codes that could be scanned and viewed on mobile devices, at their convenience. Overall, these efforts were put in place to minimize common touch points and the show did its best to accommodate to the current circumstances.

As different as this boat show and year has felt, it was just such a wonderful experience to have the marine industry all in one place again. There were a handful of open areas where usually booths would have been, and the overseas crowd was unable to attend; however, at the end of the day, it all worked out. Local authorities and the boat show directors went above and beyond to provide this experience for us was truly exceptional and safe. We can’t wait to see you at boat shows in 2021 (hopefully)!