Editor's note: Watch for more coverage of DealerCamp in the August 15 edition of BRAIN.
DEER VALLEY, UT (BRAIN) — This was DealerCamp’s fourth year to build a relevant dealer event that could attract more than several hundred retailers. On that score, Lifeboat Events failed to deliver.
But some exhibitors are giving Lance Camisasca, the event’s founder, a temporary reprieve thanks to a consumer day that injected much needed energy into what could have been an immediate death sentence. DealerCamp had its smallest exhibitor footprint since its inaugural launch.
Nonetheless, several key exhibitors have told Camisasca that he needs to return to his home base in Southern California and rethink the structure and perhaps the location of DealerCamp if he hopes to sign them up next year. And Camisasca tacitly acknowledges as much.
“It’s so early right now that I can’t really tell you much, but we have to make some decisions. I need to get more feedback from exhibitors and I hope to meet with them again at Interbike,” Camisasca said, as he and his crew packed up before leaving for home.
So what happened at the three-day event, which launched Thursday and closed with a consumer day on Saturday? Here’s a look:
- Day 1—Accell North America (ANA) and its many brands (Lapierre, Raleigh, eFlow, iZip, Haibike, Redline, Torker and its XCL accessory line) was the event’s major anchor along with Pivot and Intense. Earlier in the week, Accell had brought in 42 key U.S. dealers plus three from Mexico. Accell paid their way and concluded its product presentations before DealerCamp opened. Still, retail traffic was slow. But the first day ended on a high note with Raleigh’s Midsummer Night’s cyclocross race. Raleigh also brought in a waffle wagon that kept dealers and spectators fed with hot waffles topped with everything from fried eggs to raspberries.
- Day 2—There’s no other way to describe the second day other than dead. Exhibitors spent the day visiting one another’s tent, checking out competitors’ products, grabbing bikes to ride on the road or in the mountains, and later chatting among themselves—beer in hand—as they closed up, sarcastically dubbing the day “Vendor Camp.”
- Day 3—Saturday began with overcast skies and the start of a 100-mile Ride to Recovery, which began and ended at DealerCamp. More than 150 riders rode a 25-, 50- or 100-mile loop bringing in family and friends. Electric bikes were the star attraction—Currie Technologies’ staff sent out e-bikes all day long as consumers buzzed through the area. Many said they were locals from Park City or guests staying in the valley. By Camisasca’s count some 766 people passed through DealerCamp Saturday.
So where does this leave Camisasca and DealerCamp? The majority of brands on site want the event to succeed. Many have known Camisasca for years. But how do you get dealers, many of whom spend more than two weeks out of the summer at various dealer events, to pencil in DealerCamp.
Most would have to pay their way to DealerCamp and—if they fly to nearby Salt Lake—will spend upwards of $1,500 for airfare, car rental or shuttles, hotel rooms, food and miscellaneous items to attend the three-day event.
Camisasca admits it’s tough to get retailers to recognize the value of an event like DealerCamp, but without dealer support it’s tough to build a sizable exhibit area.
Still, DealerCamp has been a boon for companies like Pivot and Intense Cycles and several others. Why? They helped generate their own weather. Pivot’s Chris Cocalis timed the company’s sales meeting with the event and made certain that key dealers were on hand to see his 2014 bikes. Cocalis jokingly called it “Pivot Camp.”
Intense Cycles’ Jennifer Gabrielli sent Camisasca an email, which he shared with BRAIN: “Wow! What an awesome time we had this week. Thank you so much for putting on such a great show. I really can't tell you enough how much I appreciate your flexibility and willingness to be so accommodating.
“Such a breath of fresh air compared to the convention center gigs. We look forward to next year and hope you'll let me know if you need anything from us in the meantime,” she wrote.
And as DealerCamp’s consumer day closed dozens of people stood outside the Intense booth cheering as the company gave away prizes and T-shirts. For consumers, it was a great day.
Photos by Chip Smith