Editor's note: The following story first ran in the November issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. It was published before Interbike's decision to allow consumers to attend the show and has been edited slightly as a result.
LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) — When Interbike opens next September at Mandalay Bay, it will be just two miles south of its longtime home at the Sands Expo Convention Center. Interbike show director Pat Hus believes the short move will reinvigorate North America’s largest industry gathering with a fresh floor plan and a full slate of new events.
“It was time for a change for Interbike,” Hus said. “We felt that Mandalay Bay offered amenities that the Sands could not, and we felt like they wanted our business more than the Sands.”
Nielsen Expositions, Interbike’s parent company, negotiated a three-year agreement with Mandalay Bay, a result of its contract expiring with the Sands at the close of this year’s show. After reconsidering Salt Lake City, Denver and Anaheim as future locations, Las Vegas remained the universal choice as host city for the show, Hus said. That left the Sands—Interbike’s home for 12 years—the Las Vegas Convention Center and Mandalay Bay on the table as venues. Mandalay Bay, which will also host four other Nielsen-owned trade shows starting next year, won out with the appeal of space for Interbike to organize parties and races that weren’t possible at the Sands.
The large, flat, open parking lot outside the hall (think USA Crit Series 2007-2009) will be used as an e-bike test track, potential space for booth overflow and possibly an after-hours super-sprint triathlon series finale or criterium race. Hus is also lobbying Sinclair to move its annual party to Mandalay Bay’s new nightclub and is scheming a signature after-hours party for the pool area.
The idea is to keep the bulk of the events during the three-day indoor show within close enough quarters to compel exhibitors and dealers to linger, similar to the format a show like Eurobike has perfected with its beer gardens and popular industry party.
“It just feels like [Mandalay Bay] allows us to create more community and keep people more engaged in one area,” Hus said. “Now, as soon as the show’s over everybody dissipates into the streets of Vegas.”
The down-Strip move to Mandalay Bay doesn’t seem to have raised many industry hackles, with “It’s still Vegas” being the overarching sentiment.
From a logistics standpoint, exhibitors will have a few key benefits working in their favor: access to three large loading docks instead of the one over-crowded ramp at the Sands, and the ability to run electrical cables through the numerous columns on the new show floor, which avoids ceiling drops. The biggest financial headache of paying high rates for drayage and electrical, however, remains unchanged with the move as that is union labor and not venue-specific.
Exhibitors will pay a 5 percent increase for booth space in 2013, or $100 more per 10-by-10, the first Interbike rate hike in five years. At the same time, Interbike is upping its commitment to Bikes Belong, as required in its contract, to 12 percent of total revenue, which should mean $250,000 to $300,000 in additional revenue to the industry organization.
Though cost is always an issue for exhibitors, with many companies spending several hundred thousand dollars in total costs to attend Interbike, the far more pressing priority for most is the new floor plan. This year, Interbike sold about 315,000 square feet of space, about the maximum capacity on the main floor at Mandalay Bay. (The Health + Fitness Business Expo will be staged in a separate ballroom.) That means space will be tighter and there will be fewer 20-by-20 and 20-by-30 islands on the floor, and more shared walls.
“We’re starting with a clean canvas, and that will allow us to put some logic into the floor,” Hus said. Without legacy locations to worry about accommodating, Interbike can design more category-specific villages and main aisles that pull people to the middle of the show.
That appeals to BMC USA marketing manager Devin Riley, who attended an Interbike-organized tour of Mandalay Bay on the Friday morning of this year’s Interbike.
“It’s a refresh. Those that had been there for the last 10 years had their spots,” he said. When BMC took over its own distribution from Quality Bicycle Products two years ago, options for its large 2,000-plus-square-foot booth were limited to the back portion of the main floor. “We’re looking forward to improving our placement,” Riley said.
Because of the time-consuming task of laying out the floor from scratch, Interbike started several months earlier this year, dropping 2013 contracts at exhibitors’ booths at this year’s show so it can figure out sooner who’s returning and assessing their specific needs.
Interbike will offer hotel blocks again this year with rooms closer to Mandalay Bay, although it will run shuttles from select hotels on the north side of the Strip.