Tuesday, October 12, 2010

i'm sure they won't miss me: interbike returns to vegas after all

I just got this enlightening email from The Powers That Be, aka Interbike-Bikes Belong-Nielsen Expositions-Bicycle Industry Conglomerate Of The Universe:


Dear Retailer:

I would like to thank you for attending the 2010 Interbike show in Las Vegas. With your support, this year’s event was able to attract more than 1,200 brands and 550-plus members of the media. As a result of this intense coverage the cycling industry was exposed to a global audience via endemic cycling media, along with prominent mainstream outlets such as USA Today, NBC, the Wall Street Journal and many more.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this year’s show and the countless conversations we have personally had with retailers and exhibitors regarding the future dates and location of Interbike, we are reversing our earlier decision to move the 2011 show to Anaheim in August.

While we will never be able to achieve a complete consensus among the global audience of 24,000 people and more than 5,000 businesses that attend and exhibit at Interbike, at this point in time it’s clear that the industry prefers September dates in Las Vegas. Given that, we are announcing that the 2011 Interbike show will return to the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas September 14-16, with the OutDoor Demo taking place at Bootleg Canyon on September 12-13. The 2012 show also will be held at the Sands in Las Vegas September 19-21, with the Demo to be held September 17-18.

Interbike has always been--and will continue to be--the industry’s show and will always keep the needs of our retailers firmly in mind. At the end of the day, your commitment to cycling retail drives this industry, and without your participation Interbike doesn’t exist. We have heard your passion and commitment to this event and we want you to know that we are listening. We believe the new direction will best serve the current needs of the marketplace.

As we craft future strategies for Interbike, we will make every effort to ensure we are working with a broad base of retailers, exhibitors, media and advocates to continue to deliver a dynamic, efficient and unifying event for the US marketplace. We also will continue our commitment to providing more value at Interbike by showcasing emerging trends, increasing industry networking opportunities, and continuing to provide relevant and timely business education.

Thanks again for your support in 2010 and we’ll see you at Interbike in 2011,

Andy Tompkins
Interbike Show Director


Personally, I find this fascinating. Was this planned all along? Rumors have flown back and forth all summer about the fact that Interbike was having to compete with The Big Three -- Trek, Specialized and Giant -- who were holding their own separate, miniature trade shows earlier in the year and pulling dealers away from Interbike as a result. The announcement to move Interbike to Anaheim and to move the show to the first week in August was met with reactions ranging from enthusiasm to skepticism; a couple of large wholesale houses asked their retailers what they thought of the change. Clearly, a lot of shops would've had a hard time freeing up anyone to go to an Interbike held in early August. Another consideration was the possibility of adding a "consumer day" -- something that might have made sense in Anaheim, with its proximity to the largest retail bicycle market in the country -- there are hundreds of bike shops in Southern California and all would've been within a few hours' drive of an Anaheim Interbike. But with the show staying in Vegas, there will likely be no "consumer day" anytime soon.

I have no real insight into the dog-and-pony show that goes on behind the scenes in the bike industry -- and frankly, our shop is too little for Interbike to really care about anyway -- but after all the press involved in trumpeting a move of the show to Anaheim and to an earlier summer date, this turnaround seems almost too good to be real. Was it planned all along, some elaborate choreography to get the largest bike makers and Interbike to play nicer together? Who owns what in the bike industry, anyway, and who has their fingers in which pies?

These are questions that I, in my position as the buyer for a fairly small and rather funky bike shop, will probably never know the answers to. My only regret is that, by retracting its earlier intention and keeping the show in Las Vegas, Interbike -- and the powers that really run the bike industry -- have shown once again that, in the parlance of an old saying, "money talks, bullshit walks and small change rides the bus." I, and thousands of other bike shop owners/workers just like me, are definitely small change in this big picture.

That said, I still don't ever want to go back to Las Vegas, even if someone else pays my way. I'd rather stay home and teach a roomful of middle-schoolers with ADD how to fix their flat tires than go through what I went through in Vegas ever again. Interbike and Vegas can have each other.

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