SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA (BRAIN)—Interbike show director Andy Tompkins said he is forming an advisory board to keep in touch with a broader base of the industry, a need exposed by the resistance to Interbike’s plan to move the tradeshow date and venue.
Tompkins said he expects to recruit five to 10 companies from each segment of the industry including retailers, manufacturers, media and parts suppliers for the board. The new board will be in addition to ongoing conversations and feedback from Interbike’s existing partners like Bikes Belong, the National Bicycle Dealers Association and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association.
The board is one way Interbike will be more transparent with the industry as it attempts to determine what kind of tradeshow it wants, as it’s clear from the past three weeks that holding an event in early August in Anaheim is not the popular choice.
“The U.S. marketplace does need a unifying event. That is clear; the details of it are not. We’re going to try to bring these myriad voices to more of a chorus,” Tompkins said.
Interbike will also communicate with the industry through blog posts on its Web site and will look at hiring a third-party company to better survey the industry. Tompkins said one of the valuable lessons he took away from the past three weeks is that Interbike needs to have a deeper research process, engaging a larger sector of the industry, before making a big decision about the show.
Beginning in January, Interbike polled retailers through a survey sent to its entire database of 12,000 individuals asking if the show would be more relevant and efficient for preseason ordering if it was better timed with the industry’s earlier sales cycle. With a 10 to 15 percent return rate, most responses were either neutral or positive, Tompkins said.
In May, a second survey went to 1,000 exhibitors asking if there was support for a move to early August to better align with the industry’s earlier buy-sell cycle.
The surveys were in addition to phone calls polling exhibitors on potentially moving the show, as well as conversations earlier this year at the Bicycle Leadership Conference.
Although Interbike felt it had support for the move, after announcing the change just days before this year’s tradeshow, it was clear the majority of dealers disagreed with the new timing, and that impacted exhibitor support.
“The weight of the dealers’ reaction weakened a lot of resolve,” he said. “That’s what was really exciting about this. I’ve never seen an audience so passionate about something in my entire career.”
Interbike announced this week that it would return the show to Las Vegas in mid-September next year and in 2012.