Eurobike Portland vs Interbike; Part Two
Because this topic merits further open discussion and because I didn't want my incredible insights and commentary getting buried in the comments (or allowing Donna to steal all the glory), I am writing this additional post about the recent developments regarding the soon to be Eurobike Portland.
This has been pretty much the biggest news in the bike industry in quite some time now. You can read about it more here, here, here, here, here and here- among other places. Each of these give some pretty great coverage to the issue and the comments that follow some of these posts are really pretty cool. Lots of great discussion going on over this topic.
Here is my take on the whole thing and I encourage other industry folks to chime in with an opinion- please! If not here, then somewhere- Interbike Times is a great place to go say something;
First, I really do have to give Donna a tip of the cycling cap for her post because she covers a lot of great questions/ considerations.
I personally love Portland and I've never even been there. One of the highlights of Interbike for me this year was meeting with representatives from the Portland Development Commission. Chris DiStefano from Chris King brought them by to talk to me about their plans to actively court the cycling industry to move to Portland. I was floored by their generosity and energy. If I could move Masi to Portland, I certainly would. Portland rocks. However, a personal love for the city can not cloud the business decisions we all have to make. Eurobike Portland, from what we know so far, is just scheduled at the wrong time. As Donna points out, with the creation of this show, I would potentially be traveling to Canada for their show, Portland for their show and then Vegas for the "big" show (no Eurobike for me as I can not currently sell into Europe due to a trademark dispute). Now, some folks would have to decide if they were going to patronize all four shows or carve it down to 1, 2 or 3. This schedule conflict is not created by the city of Portland and it's cycling community (quite possibly the very best in the US), so the city and PDC should not be held responsible for this issue.
Vegas and Interbike, for all of the issues many people have with it, is still the premier show on the calendar. Eurobike is sooner in the year, so it serves as the global launch for many new widgets, but Interbike is still pretty widely considered the Belle of the ball. Yes, it costs us all way too damned much to attend each year. Yes, the Union workers we deal with are frequently less than stellar. The past two years my parent company, Haro Bicycles, has had bikes stolen out of the booths during the night while the booths were being "watched" by security. BUT... the show is still the biggest and bestest show in the country and has beaten away all other contenders for the title over the past 25 years- that means something. Vegas, warts and all, still houses an immense infrastructure to handle an event the size of Interbike. There is a reason that Las Vegas is the tradeshow capitol of the US (if not the world)- rooms, restaurants, transportation, entertainment. It's all there. Yes, it all smells like cigarette smoke and riding your bike on the streets of Las Vegas is like playing with a loaded gun. BUT... then there is Dirt Demo, which has become more important to many exhibitors than the expo itself. Demo has become huge and has replaced the energy that was once so strong on the floor of the expo. We all know that the expo has almost nothing to do with "business" anymore and almost nobody actually writes orders for product while at the show. Now, the expo is for thanking our customers for their support, seeing friends and networking. For a small brand like mine, the expo is still important- even though I don't write orders either- because I need to get the bikes under the noses of as many potential customers as possible. Is Vegas perfect? Not by a long shot, but in 25 years, Interbike has become the defacto "must do" event of the year for the bulk of the industry. Trek, Specialized, Giant and a few other folks do their own regional shows long before Vegas and have all but stopped coming to the show (though Trek was absent in 2005 they had a presence at Demo this year, but still no tradeshow booth during the expo) and many of their retailers who are very deeply invested in them have also stopped coming to the show because there is nothing "new" for them to look at (Hello... come see Masi then!)
As a manufacturer, I can't imagine traveling to 4 tradeshows in the month of September and my wife would kill me if I did. David Roth brought up an interesting point in his comments on Donna's post about some companies already doing this in Europe and then traveling here. The thing to keep in mind in those situations is that most (maybe not all) of those companies are actually working with regional/ national distributors and not actually carrying the entire expense or the burden of staffing and attending the shows. The distributor for that country or region usually pays for the booth space and mans it with their own staff. Some representatives from the "home office" might visit and help to present the line/s, but the ultimate burden usually rests on the shoulders of the distributor. For small guys like me, I'd get slaughtered if I tried. Fortunately for me, my distributor in Canada (Norco) handles their show (BTAC) and all I do is show up and look pretty with the bikes. Same thing for Australia (PacBrands)- the distributor handles this all for me and I just bring my funny American accent.
Speaking of Australia... as Phil points out in his post, Australia's cycling market is under-served by it's tradeshow and could certainly use the help of Eurobike or some other source (though I have offered my services for this, my phone has not been ringing). Markets like the Australian one face unique challenges that really need to be addressed by the industry, globally. If more vendors/ suppliers/ manufacturers and exhibit promoters do not help the market out, it will only shrink. As a global cycling community, we need to be searching for ways to grow markets like Australia. It'll never be the biggest market in the world, dollar-wise, but it can certainly perform better with our help.
Overall, I invite the possibility of another major tradeshow in the US, but I'd like to see a better date on the calendar and, as much as I love Portland, something on the East coast would serve the overall US market better- rather than another show on the West coast.
So now back to the banter. What are your thoughts? Please don't be bashful- chime in. (Raleigh Reed, I'm talking to you my friend. Nice new catalog by the way...)
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser
Posted by Tim Jackson at 11:22 PM