First combined IBEX upon us

By the time November 1 hits, organizers of the International BoatBuilders’ Exposition & Conference (IBEX) will be breathing a deep sigh of relief.
Though the decision this spring to combine Professional BoatBuilder magazine’s IBEX and the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s BoatBuilding into one mega-event took the pressure off industry companies participating in both events, it put the pressure on producers.
“The most challenging aspect of the new partnership has simply been the short time we have had to plan the new event,” said show co-director Jennifer Thompson. “We are all looking forward to have a full-year planning cycle for IBEX 2004.”
This year’s event, being held October 27–29 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida, will take place in Halls A and D, which together will create a show floor of about 270,000 square feet, slightly more exhibit space than the IBEX that took place this past February.
More space next year
The size of the floor is expected to grow about 50 percent in 2004 when organizers add a third hall to the show. This should accommodate demand by current exhibitors for increased space and provide everybody on the IBEX waiting list with an opportunity to participate next year, said organizers.
While this year’s IBEX was officially sold out this summer, organizers concluded negotiations to expand Hall D at the end of September. This enabled organizers to offer exhibit space to some of the 300 companies on the show waiting list; however, it was too late for many of them.
“Since we are so close to the show, many companies just couldn’t get ready in time and just want to be on the list for next year,” said Thompson. As a result, the space was opened up to the industry at large.
Thompson said there would be more than 700 manufacturers exhibiting, though a final number had yet to
be determined.
For those companies unable to exhibit, there is another way to participate in the show. Organizers have established an IBEX Marketplace, similar to the marketplace offered at the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS). It offers non-exhibitors exposure at the show through showcases of products and company literature.
International participation rising
Organizers say they are expecting a higher attendance than previous IBEX shows with a higher concentration of production builders and international boat builders; however, they’re not making any guesses about where the final attendance numbers will fall.
Though the event is expected to attract more non-U.S. participants than either past IBEX or BoatBuilding shows, growth in international participation is expected to rise more sharply in future years, when the show will offer more exhibit space, stated Thompson.
Italy’s marine trade association, UCINA, and the British Marine Federation will be participating in this year’s show as part of the International Pavilions, joining exhibitors from New Zealand, the Netherlands and China.
Dates not so bad after all?
There has been some concern among exhibitors and attendees of the two former shows about the dates of the combined event, which organizers have acknowledged. Of particular concern is the fact that IBEX ends the day before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show begins.
However, the combination of a second IBEX event in 2003 and the close proximityof the Fort Lauderdale show has resulted in only 12 and a half companies deciding not to renew their contracts, said Thompson.
In addition, though event organizers offered to help companies exhibiting at both IBEX and Fort Lauderdale by expediting freight from one show to the other or by providing a booth to be used at IBEX, organizers said many companies have decided to exhibit with two separate displays.
Carl Cramer, who is co-directing the October event with NMMA’s Thompson, said organizers are “overjoyed” by the response of the marine industry to the merger, timing and location.
Participants in the new event should expect to encounter more products, educational opportunities, live demonstrations and networking events than ever experienced at either previous show. — Liz Walz

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