LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA (BRAIN)—DealerCamp’s final tallies showed that 648 retailers from 352 storefronts traveled to the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, to see and test 2012 products. That’s up compared to last year’s 220 retailers from 120 stores.
Still, to most exhibitors, retail attendance seemed lighter than the numbers suggest.
“It’s hard to say, but it felt like less than that,” said Bernie Doering, senior vice president of global sales action sports for Easton-Bell Sports, which had separate booths for its Blackburn, Easton, Bell and Giro brands and 25 sales reps on hand to talk to dealers.
It was a sentiment echoed throughout DealerCamp and in the days that followed. In fact, lower-than-expected retail turnout was the only widely heard criticism among exhibitors who generally praised the event for its timing, scenic backdrop, slower pace, riding opportunities and overall atmosphere.
“The dealers that were there and stopped by we were able to spend more time with,” said John Georger, national sales manager for Felt Bicycles. “Dealers thought it was great because they could take several bikes out. Some had ridden all the different platforms we brought out there because there was no waiting in lines. They loved the riding.”
Organizers offered subsidies to 125 businesses to cover part of their travel, lodging and food costs—about 90 of those extended the subsidy came out. Scott Sports flew in 88 buyers from 51 shops as part of its annual launch, which started a couple days before DealerCamp. And Cycling Sports Group also brought in retailers for its annual dealer event held the same days as DealerCamp. QBP shuttled 43 retailers who were in town for its expo and outdoor demo the weekend prior at its Ogden warehouse.
But many vendors felt most retailers who were flown in spent more time in private product presentations in nearby lodges than at the outdoor expo. They also noted that some who flew in for Scott’s event left town after the first day of DealerCamp.
David Guettler of River City Bicycles admits he spent the bulk of his time looking at new bikes from Cannondale at the Snow Park Lodge. “They flew us out so we felt somewhat obliged to give them our attention,” he said, adding that he also test rode new models from Scott and Raleigh.
Still, Lance Camisasca, president of Lifeboat Events, stands by his attendance numbers. He said retail counts were tallied by checking individuals off the pre-registration list when they picked up their badge; counting registration forms completed onsite; and cross-referencing both lists with signed waiver forms.
He thinks traffic felt light because it was spread out over three days, several acres of exhibits, miles and miles of trails and two vendor events. “What we can do next year is schedule things better and work closely with book-ended partners to make sure the expo has certain peak hours where everyone is at the expo or riding at certain intervals,” he said.
That said, getting more retailers to come to DealerCamp—subsidized or not—tops his priority list for next year when DealerCamp returns to Deer Valley, July 22-24. “For 2012, the bulk of our focus will be on retail buyer attendance and event enhancements,” Camisasca said. “We’d like to see the retailer number grow.”
Overall, 1,729 people attended. That number includes 740 that manned the booths as exhibitors and another 341 that were unique guests, non-exhibiting manufacturers and industry affiliates.
DealerCamp drew 128 exhibitors representing 200 brands. Retailers came from 43 states, and a handful traveled from Canada, the UK, Mexico, South Africa and the Dominican Republic, organizers said.