Blog / We Attended The Miami Boast (Boat) Show in 2024 | KORKZ

We Attended The Miami Boast (Boat) Show in 2024 | KORKZ

Ron Hesmer

Just back from attending the 2024 Miami Boat Show...said to be the largest in the world with over 1,000 boats and 100,000 participants. I’m too lazy to fact-check those numbers, so if it’s facts you seek… maybe look elsewhere? Also, this isn’t intended to be an actual “review” of the boat show; it’s just a recap of my experience with some personal observations thrown in. Before we get started, please note: If you don’t love Miami...we can’t be friends. Miami is HOT! It’s also VERY cool. A celebrity haven with art deco architecture, exotic cars, private jets, beautiful women, professional sports, Latin music, multicultural cuisine, gin-clear water, rum-filled mojitos, sultry breezes, endless beaches and a proximity to 700 islands of the Bahamas that beckons boats of every $hape and $ize. Oh, Miami...how I wish I could afford you. Not saying I would marry you, but like a mistress on the side, you make me feel alive.

Miami Boat Show in 2024

This was my first time attending the Miami International Boat Show, but this wasn’t my first rodeo. Trade shows attract crowds and crowds inflate hotel rates. So instead of forking over an exorbitant amount for a hotel room (and bankrolling dinner and drinks), I found a same-day round-trip flight that put my wife and I there early and got us home late. Yes, I’m so cheap that I’ll get up at 4 a.m. and turn what could’ve been a romantic getaway into a 20-hour slog. Speaking of cheap. If you would like visual examples of just how much money you do NOT have, this town offers a non-stop parade of uber-wealth.

Miami Boat Show 2024

On with the show!

There’s no single venue large enough encompass the entire spectacle of the show...so they’ve divided it into 4 or 5 separate venues (all within a mile or two of each other). We went on a Saturday, which is probably not optimal, as gawkers attend with the entirety of their brood in tow. I talked to one yacht broker who said the serious buyers show up during the week and “lookers” come out on the weekend. I spoke to another rep (I won’t mention the boat brand ...let’s just say it rhymes with Blosston Blaler) and he professed to have sold 76 boats in the 3 days leading up to the weekend. Gulp.

On the docks you’ll find ANY and EVERYthing that combines flotation with propulsion. It’s eye-candy for the wealthy and fairyland for the curious. $2M could get you on the bottom rung of cruiser or the top rung of a power-packed center-console. Break out ten times that amount and you can start shopping for dock space for your 80’ sportsfishing boat. These boats, like the people who adorn them, exude a loftiness. Some of these vessels scream “Look at me!” with their massively overcompensating horsepower, sleek lines, thumping stereo and jazzy décor...while others possess an understated splendor that says “Look away, because you’ll never have this.”

 

I felt sorry for the reps that led tours on these pie-in-the-sky watercraft. They can spot the 99% (people like me) just by our wardrobe. They know we don’t have lotto-winner’s chance of owning one of these magnificent machines. They know we’ve never sniffed the opulent lifestyle of South Beach aristocracy. They know our bank accounts have a bottom. They know we’re just like the reps themselves... unable to afford what they’re selling. And yet, it’s their job to avert their eye-rolls, give us a tour, repeat their spiel, hand us their business card and shake our hands as we disembark….and they do this all day long.

Miami Boat Show Review_2024

The docks are where the floating boat show resides, but you’ll have to step inside the Plaza/convention center to find everything else → Including scantily-clad seductresses hawking trailerable runabouts, ski boats, flats boats, pontoons, dinghies, every make of engine...high-end boat furniture, fishing tackle, floating pads, AC units, anchoring equipment, hats, sunglasses, sunglass straps, lens cleaners, binoculars, apparel, skin care products, charter companies, rod holders, financial loans/lenders, insurance providers, beach mats, marine electronics, watermakers, trinkets, food trucks, mini bars … and probably 2 acres of stuff I’ve failed to mention.

The aisles of the convention center are lined with vendor-webs, some stickier than others. As a general rule of thumb, you can put trade show vendors into 3 categories:

 

(1) Aggressive/High pressure

(2) Congenial with motive

(3) “Tired of this shit – let me know when you’ve got your wallet out.”

 

It’s the high-pressure peeps that you’ll need to guard against. They’re harder to fend off than girl scouts with cookies.

Miami Boat Show Preview

We hit the docks early, had lunch...and then headed for the convention center. This was a good plan of attack, as it seemed to run counter to the crowd flow. Still, we burned a full day visiting just 2 of the venues. Yes, we took several (time consuming) boat tours, one of which was a 70’ Marlow with the introductory price of $3.5M and a 2-year waitlist. Had they honored Amazon gift cards we may have succumbed to their pitch...as is, we removed our shoes before boarding, nodded in feigned agreement to whatever the broker said ...and pretended not to be totally starstruck as he pulled back the curtain on how the 1% live. Point being: There’s more to see and do. We didn’t imbibe in the sunshine, even though there were multiple dockside bartenders. We didn’t attend seminars or delve into the future of electric propulsion. We didn’t take the free “test rides” offered by a myriad of manufactures. We didn’t explore the tech advances in navigation equipment. We didn’t even make it to the sailboat venue or the mega yacht docks. These exhibits weren’t high on our to-do list, but it goes to show that this isn’t an event you can digest in one day.

It’s also not just a trade show. There’s an aura surrounding this seaside mecca that can’t be denied. Miami’s vibe is palpable without embellishment, so just imagine the result when you stir in a dollop of one-upmanship and sun-splashed decadence. It’s kinda fun.