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What does the industry think about Interbike's move to Reno?

Published August 3, 2017
Is the 'reset' enough to revitalize the show?

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Following Interbike's announcement Thursday that it will move from Las Vegas to Reno-Tahoe starting in 2018, retailers and suppliers said they are largely upbeat about the new location — but many are unsure the change of scenery and new show format will be enough to prop up sagging attendance or bring major bike brands back to the show floor.

"Honestly, anything would be an improvement from Vegas," said Davis Carver, owner of Carver Bikes and retailer Bath Cycle and Ski in Woolwich, Maine. "All in all, I think the proximity to better riding, Lake Tahoe, etc. is a good thing. I was campaigning for Denver or Atlanta, just to change things up, but I'm generally happy with the decision."

Retailer Michael Paese of Gotta Ride Bikes in San Antonio said he is also happy to see the show leave Las Vegas, but the move to Reno will make travel more difficult for him.

"There are pretty much no nonstops to Reno from anywhere outside of the nearby West Coast. For us in Texas, that will nearly double my travel time — that's now a six- to seven-hour flight. What's it going to be like for those on the East Coast? Vegas at least had great nonstops," he said. "If they had gone to Denver, they would have made the show much more accessible for the rest of the country."

Additionally, the change of venue doesn't address what Paese believes are Interbike's two most challenging issues: a dearth of major exhibitors, and late timing by sticking with September dates.

"It used to be that we saw products and wrote orders there, but not anymore. Those are either done already, or will be done very shortly. And what is there to see when most of the top companies don't come — the same knockoffs in the Chinese trade booths, or TENS units and skin cream?" he said.

On the other hand, Sunnyside Bicycles co-owner Vanessa McCracken said she would like to have seen the show move later on the calendar.

"We are super excited about the move to Reno-Tahoe and already have the dates blocked out on the calendar for next year. It's all the staff is talking about this morning," she said Thursday from her shop in Fresno, California. "I personally wish it was moved to mid-October since we are still pretty busy in September. Mid-October would make it easier for us to close and bring the whole staff. Everyone is so excited about the move to Reno, though, that we will figure out a way to make it work in September."

In announcing the venue change Thursday, Interbike noted that the Reno-Sparks Convention Center is a nonunion facility, which should mean fewer setup restrictions and lower costs for exhibitors. That was good news to Detroit Bikes president Zak Pashak.

"I've never been a fan of Vegas, and it's all so complicated and expensive to set up the booth. That might be true of any trade show, but Vegas didn't make it any simpler. There are so many layers and it seems like there are a lot of people wanting to extract money from you in Vegas, coming out of nowhere to give you a bill," he said.

"It will be neat to have a fresh start, and Reno seems like an exciting place to check out. Vegas is such a busy city, and I think it will be easier and more enjoyable to be in Reno. And being outside more instead of stuck in a giant mall will be great," Pashak said.

Wayne D. Gray, vice president of KHS Bicycles, which has one of the largest booths on Interbike's show floor this year in Vegas, said he welcomes the new two-day consumer festival at Northstar California Resort that will precede the trade demo and expo portions of the newly minted Interbike Marketweek, which will now stretch over six days rather than five.

"Especially if we're all dedicating all our resources to get there and we have the product there, it's great to invite consumers up. We do several demo days throughout the year, so I have no problem having consumers in advance of the trade show. And I like separating the two. I support that wholeheartedly," he said.

However, Gray doesn't believe the changes will have a significant effect on exhibitor participation — especially among the major bike brands that have left the show in recent years to focus on their own dealer events.

"I can't see this move being the impetus for Specialized and Trek and Giant and Cannondale all to come back. I just don't. Maybe I'm wrong — I hope so. I would like to see them back at the show. It's our industry. We'd like all the players to participate," Gray said.

Pivot Cycles founder Chris Cocalis said that getting more people on both the dealer and exhibitor side to support the show will make or break Interbike's success, but he doesn't foresee the major bike brands returning to the prominence they once had inside the expo and at OutDoor Demo.

"It's only realistic that you might get them back to an extent to attend this demo event and maybe have a smaller presence at the show. But I think it would be unrealistic for someone the size of Specialized or Trek to abandon their own show for a show where they're going to be sharing their customer base with every other brand on the planet, when they're big enough to host their own event and have a more captured audience," he said.

And although Cocalis said staging OutDoor Demo at the lift-served trails of Northstar could be a significant draw for dealers, he believes Interbike faces a tougher sell with Reno as the expo venue.

"The biggest things for me are: Can I get there? Will the dealers come? And do we have a great place to have an OutDoor Demo? And they've got two of those covered. I just don't know how they're going to market the excitement of Reno to get the dealers to find the value in that. And I hope they do. Even since my Titus days, I haven't missed an Interbike since 1989. We're still supporting it and are excited about the demo days for consumers," Cocalis said.

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