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Taichung Bike Week undergoing growing pains

Published November 7, 2013

TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Too much success poses as many issues as too little, and that’s what now confronts organizers of Taichung Bike Week. Has it become too big? And is it attracting the right vendors?

Steve Fenton, TBW’s organizer and president of Pro-Lite, asked those questions Thursday of an ad hoc advisory board made up of executives from VP Components, Profile Design, NuVinci and DT Swiss. “If we’re not careful, this event could self-destruct,” Fenton warned.

With more than 300 vendors filling rooms at the three key hotels in downtown Taichung, and with several thousand participants constantly shifting between them, TBW has become a key way station on the international trade show calendar.

And there is a select group of companies, members of the RideOn group, meeting at the Millennial Vee, another Taichung hotel about a 15-minute cab ride from the Tempus, Evergreen and Splendor.

Nonetheless, there appears to be little desire on the part of most vendors to formally shift the event to a central exhibition hall. “This is a chance to have conversations in a private atmosphere—to talk business and to nail down facts for the season,” said Urs Keller, DT Swiss’ vice president and managing director for the Asia Pacific region.

Keller, like others, said there is little desire to increase trade show costs by formalizing the event with booths at a show hall. “We don’t have an endless budget for trade shows,” he added.

Mark Vandermolen, Profile Design’s director of product development, said TBW is being held at that right time and in the right place. “We really value the private and relaxed atmosphere here. We don’t want to set up a booth and go from the hotel to a convention center and then back,” he said.

But the elephant in the room was how to define the so-called “quality” of some of the vendors exhibiting in the three hotels. There are a number of vendors here without any visible “brand” identification. Most are from China and are attracting few product managers. 

And complicating that is the complex relationship between Taiwan manufacturers with factories in China and the growing influence and technical know-how of some Chinese companies as they compete for business at the possible expense of Taiwan-based manufacturing.

It’s a delicate issue. But as Vandermolen pointed out, TBW should be about the brands that support the industry—primarily IBD-quality vendors selling bikes worldwide.

 “It should remain a branded show with high-quality exhibitors,” he said. DT Swiss' Keller echoed that comment. “We need to keep it a high-quality event,” he added. 

NuVinci’s David Hancock pointed out that continued expansion without some review of vendor quality poses an issue. “There is a danger of damaging the event with too much expansion,” he said. 

Too many vendors, many with no visible ties to key brands, would essentially turn TBW into just another trade show when the focus has traditionally been on product managers from IBD-driven companies. As one executive told BRAIN before the meeting, “There’s only 100 product managers in the world who really count.”

But keeping it an event for recognizable brands would mean establishing criteria and telling vendors who is in and who is out—a prospect that left the group uneasy with such a process.

On the other hand, executives at the various hotels are interested in filling rooms and selling exhibition space—they have a vested interest in seeing the event continue to expand. 

Topics associated with this article: Taichung Bike Week

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