MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—This year’s Bicycle Leadership Conference, which officially kicked off yesterday, expects roughly 210 attendees at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa through tomorrow.
Last year the BLC had 190 attendees. The hotel’s capacity is 220 people.
This year’s panels promise to be the best yet, with some of the industry’s biggest names discussing some hot button topics.
“I think the first day (today) is going to be real exciting, early on we’re going to say we have some problems,” Fries said. “The second two panels are: Here are some solutions. How do we reach all these people that don’t go into bike shops?”
Currie Technologies president Larry Pizzi is part of the last panel on the first day, entitled: “The 90 Percent We Don’t Reach: What Keeps Them Away?”
“Basically we are going to discuss how we can attract some of the U.S. population that don't ride a bike,” said Pizzi, who said that number currently stands at roughly 82 percent. “I’m the industry guy [on the panel] that is attempting to market products that counter many of the objections that Americans have to bike riding. We expect to have some lively discussion with audience interaction.”
Pizzi said he’s most looking forward to gauge the overall attitude of e-bikes during a period where high gas prices are on everyone’s mind. “In 2008 we experienced a significant uptick in dealer interest and opened many of our most successful retailers as a result,” Pizzi said.
Fries said two panels in particular have him the most excited including “Social Networking: What Makes it Work for Business?” He considers the panel to be “rock star” in caliber featuring Matt Haughey, one of the developers of Blogger and a leading voice on social networking.
The other panel that could lead to some fireworks, Fries said, is the one that deals with doping as it pertains to professional cycling. “I think there’s going to be a lot of thunder and lightning from the doping panel,” Fries said. “I think Andrew Messick [president of AEG Sports, which promotes the Amgen Tour of California] will be a real stunning addition. There’s going to be a lot of electricity around that one.”
Dorothy Nichols, director of event marketing for Todson, will lead the “Parts and Accessories” panel on the second day.
“This is an important and highly anticipated topic of discussion in our industry,” Nichols said. “It seems that the issue of parts and accessories gets very little attention, which subsequently becomes an afterthought to in the minds of our IBDs. Parts and accessories is a driving force in our industry and most likely is the very essence of a positive bottom line for the IBD.”
The BLC includes tonight’s Lightlife on the Cannery hosted by Light and Motion, to be followed by the BRAINy Awards, presented by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.