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Analysis: For smaller brands Interbike is irreplaceable

Published September 18, 2017

RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif. (BRAIN) — Imagine Interbike being the least expensive and best way to meet up with your dealer base and reach out to new dealers.

Imagine year after year making good contacts at the show, writing pre-orders and finding people interested in what you have on offer.

Sounds like a dream doesn't it? Not for bike suppliers that continue to go to the show, Interbike is the biggest and best way to spend limited marketing money.

"It's why we still go and plan to go again in Reno. Its the most efficient way to meet the most dealers," said Wayne Gray, KHS Bicycle's vice president.

"Which is what the value of a tradeshow has always been and what Interbike continues to be," he added.

Interbike 2017 opened Monday with the Outdoor Demo at Bootleg Canyon, in Boulder City, Nevada. The demo continue through Tuesday and the indoor show opens Wednesday at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

For the suppliers that invest in the show, they say it has been getting better and better for them.

"Last year's Interbike was still a big success for us. We signed new dealers and many of our South American distributors attended the show," said Chris Cocalis, Pivot Cycles' president and CEO.

"We had enough meetings booked with our entire sales staff that we were having to double book meetings. As long as we continue to see this same level of success and can keep the show costs in check then Interbike will continue to provide value," he added.

As the larger suppliers have dropped out, the show experience is only getting better. There are fewer big brands to distract dealers and tie up their time. And fewer bike brands means they get more attention from dealers and media coverage.

"I cannot think of a better event to roll out a new bike than at Interbike. I could never get the number of eyes that I do at the show," said Steve Boyd, Tern Bicycle's general manager for North America.

"Even if I brought a Sprinter van and traveled all year showing off my bikes I could not meet the number of dealers I do in the few days of the show. It really is a great value to me," he added.

David Reed, Bianchi USA's vice president of marketing and communications said every brand that pulls out brings more dealers to their booth.

"We are happy being a dealers second or third brand, and with the big brands gone the dealers coming to the show are more open to what we offer," Reed added.

And exhibitors agree the quality of the attendees is going up. Shops are trimming down who they send to just the owner and a buyer or two. So every contact is with a decision maker.

"There maybe fewer big "A" level retailers now, but the "B" and "C" level dealers are focused and ready to do business," KHS' Gray noted.

There are mixed feelings about the move to Reno next year, in part because it will be harder for dealers to get direct flights there. While most are committed to a presence at the show they may down size.

Van Dessel Cycles had a great show last year and is looking forward to another great show. And it committed to Interbike's Southeast show Cyclofest as well.

"We are a small relatively new brand and Interbike brings us a lot of new interested dealers. We do good business at the show," said Robert Vander Veur, Van Dessel Cycles' vice president of sales and development.

While exhibitors are solidly behind the show, they like the rest of the industry, have to deal with a tough market.

"Even if the attendance is down a bit, we have positioned ourselves well within the show and have done some things to reduce our costs," said Pivot's Cocalis.

"I do think that a U.S.-based industry trade show has importance, and if Interbike does their job to make it a good value proposition for both the supplier and the retailer then the show can continue to have success."

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