By Nicole Formosa
MUNICH, Germany—It could become a slugfest between two German trade shows, Eurobike and Bike Expo. Messe München threw the first punch announcing it would re-launch its show next year with new dates, 13 days before Eurobike.
But if its roundhouse punch hit Eurobike in the gut, no one flinched.
“We don’t have any fear,” said Eurobike’s project manager, Stefan Reisinger. “Of course we see them as a serious competitor. There have been shows in competition with us before like IFMA and EICMA. There will always be competitors. It doesn’t matter where—London, Milan, Cologne. That’s quite normal, you face competition if you have a successful show.”
Bike Expo also will be renamed ISPO Bike as part of Messe München’s rebranding effort. It wants to link the show to its widely recognized ISPO name.
The show will be held Aug. 16-19, 2012, putting it into near head-to-head competiton with Eurobike’s Aug. 29-Sept. 1 dates. The reason, ISPO organizers said, was exhibitors requested it.
For its first three years, Bike Expo was held in the third week of July. Markus Hefter, director of ISPO and Bike Expo, said that, when asked, 90 percent of exhibitors preferred a later date because July was too early for new products to be ready. Mid-August also works better for retailers as it falls later in the selling season.
Hefter said Bike Expo is not looking to topple Eurobike, but rather take advantage of the fast-growing electric mobility segment with a venue near an international airport, easy public transportation, plenty of hotel beds and space to grow.
One challenge facing Eurobike is limited capacity. High demand has forced it to wait-list potential new exhibitors, and the off-the-beaten-path location in Friedrichshafen can make finding hotels difficult.
Currently, e-bike exhibitors represent about one-third of Bike Expo’s overall attendance, and half the 80 applicants for its Brand New Awards were from e-bike companies. With e-bikes on the cusp of new developments, such as automatically shifting drivetrains, that segment is the driving force behind Bike Expo’s untapped potential. Hefter expects to double the space dedicated to e-bikes next year.
“We believe e-bikes will radically change the market in the next 10 years.
If we don’t do it, someone else will,” Hefter said.
Hefter also expects to increase the number of international visitors. He plans to attract potential new Asian exhibitors with a deal to attend a new Extra Energy LEV conference scheduled in Munich directly after the show next year, followed by an organized tour to nearby companies like Bosch, Panasonic and Siemens. That way, exhibitors from Taiwan and China don’t have to travel home between Bike Expo and Eurobike.
Messe München is also investing in a dedicated ISPO Bike director, a position Hefter previously split with his duties managing ISPO Munich and Beijing. Eva Schlangenotto, who had previously worked on ISPO and Bike Expo, will fill that role.
Although Bike Expo attracted more well-known brands this year like Accell Group’s Haibike and Winora brands, Eddy Merckx, Castelli and Thun, the show was quiet. Its 301 exhibitors filled four out of the 16 halls at Munich’s New Trade Fair. It took up only 44,000 square meters out of the 180,000 square meters available, and many of the brands exhibiting do so because they are vendors of Germany’s powerful ZEG buying group. The ZEG backs the show, and occupies large swaths of the show floor with booths for its own brands.
“It’s still a small show, but it’s interesting how we’re talking to brands now that in the first year would never talk to us,” Hefter said.
Still, exhibitors said they aren’t thinking about leaving Friedrichshafen for Munich as Eurobike’s global attendance is pivotal.
Chief executive officer of Derby Cycle, Mathias Seidler, said his company would be present at both shows, even though Bike Expo’s new dates fall on top of its most important three-day house show in Cloppenburg.
“We don’t care about the date. Overall, we have to be where our customers are. If they decide to meet at a different date, it’s our task to be where they are,” he said. With its 1,000 German dealers, ZEG is Derby’s largest customer. Derby will move its house show to fall before next year’s ISPO Bike.
For Eurobike’s part, Reisinger said it would continue to focus on its concept of presenting brands that are relevant to European dealers. However, without space in Friedrichshafen to grow larger, Eurobike may have to look outside its primary show to address growing categories, such as urban mobility.
Last year, the Messe launched VeloBerlin, a consumer show in Germany’s capital city in late March and sees potential with the timing and location to better address mobility. Part of that could include adding trade days to VeloBerlin in the future, Reisinger said.
“We are not planning on that for next year, but mid-term that could be an option,” Reisinger said. “This year we started one day of Congress and had a lot of industry people. That could be something to extend in the future.”