Interbike 2013

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the Confusing

Overall, I believe Interbike was a success for the exhibitors attending and indoors.

New Venue: The show moved from the Sands to the Mandalay Bay Convention center. I had been to the convention center many times for the ski show and was familiar with the venue. Everyone else seemed confused with the new venue and booth arrangement. However, that confusion had a big payoff. The smaller 10 x 10 booths that normally don’t see anyone till late the first day or later were packed from the beginning. I talked to one exhibitor who had expected to have meetings the morning of the first day and did not get to them because of the traffic. That’s great.

Overall everyone thought traffic was good and constant.

Mandalay Bay’s food court was closed so that left few options for food. 4 options actually, all with the same fare. Day 1 and 2 the food was expensive but great. Day 3 the lettuce started to wilt. $7.50 for a Gatorade was also a little tough, but I should be used to it by now at trade shows.

When the Food court is open, life will get better. More and better food options are always great at a trade show.

Part of the show was outside. In theory, it was a great idea, the opportunity to test bikes, check out things what would not fit or would be hard to get into a trade show. The only problem was Mother Nature did not cooperate. It was hot. Most attendees got about 150’ out to the “paddock” and quit, returning quickly to the air-conditioned indoors. However the idea works.

The venue did bring back the crit. Having two bicycle races at a tradeshow, cyclecross and a crit are great! Two of the best reasons to attend the show is to relax after the day on the show floor and watch racing rather than crowing into a bar and not getting served (sorry started thinking about OR at SLC).

It would be nice to have a couple of straight aisles to move from one end of the show to the other. It helps with orientation also.

The overall opinion of the move to Mandalay Bay from the Sands: nicer bathrooms.

Eventually, everyone will know where everyone else is and things will settle back to the old familiarity everyone felt at the Sands. Mandalay Bay is smaller than the sands, but with the outdoor space, (weather permitting) and how much nicer the entire area is, Mandalay Bay will work.

Traffic: Traffic was down; Interbike preliminary numbers reported “Overall attendance was down 7 percent from 2012”. I think 7% is optimistic. Day two of the demo seemed that way to everyone I talked to. However, the total numbers do not matter; it only matters if the right people were there and every exhibitor I talked to accept one said they were happy with the attendance.

The one exhibitor who thought numbers were down was upstairs in the main hall and could have been downstairs in health and fitness business. That area was light, light might not be the best word, void might be better.

Walking through the health and fitness business section, it seemed like the same number of exhibitors were there. However buyers were not. Part of the problem was there was nothing on the main show floor saying where to find H&F Biz. or how to get there. I finally asked someone on how to get to the H&F Biz.

The App. The Interbike App was much better, must faster and worth downloading. Don’t go to a tradeshow and not use the app if they have one. The only problem was people walking around following their phones and having me bump into them……or maybe I was following my phone and bumping into them…..

Demo. The demo is the best part of Interbike. You get to ride bikes and figure out how bikes ride. You can compare bikes side by side or ride by ride. You get to talk to the mechanics, the people who work on the bikes and ask them questions about what works and what does not work. I’m afraid that Interbike will become like the ski show. People show up for the demo and skip the tradeshow.

Consumer Day: The major talk of the show was Consumer Day: The big talk for the entire show, instead of what was new, consumer day. Originally, Interbike tried to entice retailers to bring six of their best clients to Vegas and attend Interbike on the last day, for $50 each. That was expanded to anyone who attended Vegas Cyclecross and paid less, then anyone who rode the Vegas Fondo, then members for People for Bikes. Supposedly, the difference in what you paid was a different swag bag.

Exhibitors had three issues throughout the show: How was it going to work? Information was either hard to find or just missing as far as most exhibitors were concerned.

They’re going to steal us blind. One booth used plastic wrap on their booth each night to prevent theft when no one was in the booth. Friday morning they left the wrap on.

Can we sell to the people coming in? Many exhibitors pay for part of their costs and save shipping by selling to the exhibitors the last day. Retailers have a great deal on product and exhibitors have less to pack and ship and a little cash in their pocket at the end of the show. Exhibitors were met Friday morning with a piece of paper warning them not to sell anything on the last day. This was met with mixed reaction. Some booths that normally sold everything packed up everything and some booths were empty just as they normally were.

Consumer badges had a yellow/tan background. I started counting them when I saw them. I waited by the main door at 9:00 am expecting a rush of consumers. There was no rush of anyone. (I could have been at the wrong door…..) By 4:00 Pm I had counted 36 consumer badges. I did not search; I just counted if I saw a badge. By mid-morning, many consumers had turned their badge around so they were not identifiable as a consumer, so I’m sure there were more people than 36 consumers.

Interbike reported that “Preliminary data shows that approximately 750 verified consumers attended Interbike’s 1st consumer-access day on Friday, September 20th.” I think that is a little bit of a stretch or they reported something wrong. There were not 750 people on the show floor combined on Friday: Exhibitors, Buyers, Media and Consumers. I can’t believe I missed 714 people walking around the show floor.

The biggest tragedy of consumer day was exhibitors thought the consumers had chased buyers away. The exhibitors seemed right. There appeared to be a lot less buyers on the floor the last day. This was an open discussion on the floor throughout Friday.

The one funny thing is what the “consumers” did buy. Las Vegas has a dozen booth filler companies as I call them. I met one at an Interbike a while ago. They live in Vegas and make a living selling stuff at tradeshows. Many times they have nothing to do with the show. They are contacted by the convention center owners or the tradeshow when a tradeshow has space. They just quickly move in, set up and sell what they have. It is better to have “what are they doing here” booths than empty space according to my source.

At this year’s Interbike half of the consumers were walking around with bags from one of these booths. It was some sort of muscle stimulate selling for $60+ dollars on the show floor and available online for $5.

At least there wasn’t a personal injury law firm with a booth like last year.

Should you attend?

Yes. You should always attend your industry tradeshow.

1.   You find new things. Not in the big booths, but the next new thing that sits by your counter or in five years may occupy a large portion of your showroom floor. Small companies can’t hire reps and can’t come to see you. The next great bicycle thing only shot is the national tradeshow. That five minutes they can grab from you aisle you walk the back rows may be your profit next year.

The big booths have reps; the small booths have one shot.

2.   You need to learn. Not just from the education seminars but from everyone there. Standards change. The legal balance on how you run your store shifts with what some think is the wind. The best chance you have to stay on top of these issues is attending a trade show. Conversations in booths and in aisles can make big difference in how you run your store.

3.   Industry Support. The industry’s only real chance together is at a tradeshow. Those people, who volunteer their time and money to serve on boards for you, need to know it is worth their time and effort. You should show up to show the organizations that serve you, both as a retailer and a rider, that they are doing a good job. You need to let them know you care. The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) booth was staffed by a board member the entire show. You could walk up at any time and talk about your issues, gain their insight and let them know you appreciate their efforts.

4.   You put a face on an email or a phone number. Relationships are the key to the cycling industry. The stronger the relationship the better you and the industry. When you know who you are dealing with. When their face pops into you mind when you answer the phone the better your store or your

If nothing else you can stand around with the rest of us and watch consumers walk around…….

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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