What to Expect at FLIBS 2022: Q&A with Mike Carlson
How long have you been attending the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS)?
Personally, this will be my sixteenth year going to the show. Since 2011, I’ve been attending as a broker and co-founder of 26 North Yachts.
How has the event changed over the years?
It’s changed a lot. It just keeps growing and adding features, like food, entertainment and satellite events. In addition to yachts, they have water toys and accessories on display as well. It’s really become a show that appeals to the general public and not just buyers. There was a drop in attendance during COVID, so we’re excited for this year. It will be a great opportunity to reconnect with friends and clients from around the world.
Why is FLIBS one of the premier yacht shows in the world?
Ft. Lauderdale is the global epicenter for buying and selling yachts, with the world’s highest concentration of private yachts for sale. We also have many shipyards and service centers in the area. You can essentially build a yacht of any size from scratch right here in Broward County, and the show brings all of these elements together. It also gives serious buyers the chance to see hundreds of boats in one place – and not just new ones. Pre-owned yacht sales are a big part of the weekend.
What are you bringing this year and why?
The full list right now is under wraps because things always change at the last minute, but one very exciting vessel I can confirm is a 115-foot sailing yacht called Melody. It has a Dutch-built hull and was finished in Estonia. It’s actually the largest yacht ever finished there. That one will be a standout. For 26 North Yachts, though, this year’s FLIBS will be about the brokerage itself.
That sounds exciting. What can people expect?
We were just named to the “Inc. 5000” list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., so we’re unveiling new branding and new services, starting with our in-house concierge. This will be a membership-based service, but we’re making the team available to our FLIBS guests as a complimentary preview. They can handle logistics, transportation support, dining reservations and more. We’re also launching 26 North Charter to bring our complete charter management services to market. One of our flagship vessels, a Horizon E84 based in Florida and the Bahamas, will be at the show.
How should buyers prepare for FLIBS?
It can be overwhelming and confusing, so to make the most of the show, call 26 North Yachts a few weeks or months in advance and speak to a broker. We can review your criteria and help you set up a list of what you want to see, then develop an itinerary that coordinates parking, entry and yacht tours. The real benefit is efficiency. We escort you directly to the vessels you want to see. If you’re making the trip and are serious about seeing certain yachts, our team can make it a seamless experience. Otherwise, you’ll end up walking aimlessly with every broker and sales rep talking in your ear.
What trends are you expecting to see?
Seeing new models is always exciting, but I’m honestly looking forward to announcing our new services. 26 North Yachts is maturing as a brokerage and I can’t wait to celebrate that with friends and clients at our big event on Friday. For us, FLIBS is an opportunity to spend quality facetime with people who are important to our business.
Why should owners, buyers and enthusiasts make the trip?
Because it’s bigger than boats. Every major builder and manufacturer is there to unveil new products, from propulsion and navigation to onboard systems. It’s a big deal. Also, brokers come here with yachts they want to market and sell. They’re here to move inventory, so as a buyer, it’s a chance to make a deal.
If you’re not buying a yacht, what is there to do there?
Ft. Lauderdale is always a great place to visit, but the atmosphere during FLIBS is even better. There are so many events happening, so you can have a blast without even thinking about buying and selling. Just come, walk around, meet people and have fun.
How can buyers get in touch for access to the event?
Call our office and talk to a broker or register on our website. We’re providing VIP access to qualified buyers, sellers, and owners for both yacht-based and non-marine events. Take our new concierge service for a test drive! We’ll help with every aspect of your trip. And if you want to see a yacht, our brokers are at the show on Tuesday, before it even opens. They walk miles of docks identifying every single yacht on display so that when our clients arrive, we can take them directly to everything on their list.