Informa CEO Charlie McCurdy said his company has made around US$7m in infrastructure investments and improvements to the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show since it acquired Show Management last year. McCurdy spoke to a group of press members at the annual media breakfast.

McCurdy said that the company has invested in new signage, better docks and composite floors inside the exhibit tents, and improved Wi-Fi among other changes to this year’s show.

“We listened last year to exhibitors and visitors and immediately changed the days from Wednesday to Saturday to improve traffic flow,” said McCurdy, who noted that advanced ticket sales were up 5% for the show. “We’ve also been investing in new composite docks and will eventually have miles of new docking. The show is also much easier to get around because of the signage.”

McCurdy, whose company organises 200 exhibits in 50 countries around the world, said that the goal was to upgrade the show each year, while retaining its local character. Behind the scenes, he said, Informa has added new layers of security that involved coordinating with security contractors, local police, drone surveillance and magnetometers. “We want this to be a great show where people can come and feel safer,” he said.

Other investments have included ways for visitors to do online searches to see which boats are at the show, and for exhibitors to quantify leads during and after the show. McCurdy said that the show has adopted some of the elements of the Monaco show, though it will retain its own character.

FLIBS has an estimated economic impact of US$856m, the largest of any event in Florida. Beyond the initial US$7m investment, Informa will continue to invest more into next year’s show.

“Our job is to help wit the success of the marine industry in Florida,” said McCurdy. “We can do that by creating a highly functioning environment where people want to spend a lot of money.”