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Interbike hits its stride at Mandalay

Published September 17, 2014
Traffic is busy in second year at venue, but consumer day appears to fizzle; official figures due later this week.

LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — Interbike’s earlier date this year — the show’s second edition at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center — appears to have been a hit with most exhibitors and attendees.

Although show organizers said they will not release attendance figures until later this week, anecdotally most visitors said traffic appeared heavy, especially on the first two days indoors following OutDoor Demo. Traffic on Friday, when consumers were allowed in, was notably lighter, but the day was probably busier than last year’s final day, when the specter of hordes of consumers caused many retailers, media and supplier executives to stay away. 

“Wednesday was crazy busy from the opening bell to close. Thursday felt a bit like a hangover day with less traffic. Friday’s consumer experience was better than I was afraid it might be, but not great,” said Fletch Newland, North American sales director for Boardman Bikes.

Newland said that despite “an absolute crap location,” the first-time exhibitor had many visitors and he anticipates adding about 10 new U.S. dealers as a result of the show.

After a rocky first year at the Mandalay, the venue generated fewer concerns about navigation and food options. A new food court adjacent to the convention halls made it easier to find a mid-day snack. Last year’s sun-baked outdoor Paddock for overflow and new exhibitors was replaced with an indoor Lab area adjacent to registration downstairs.  

While the show’s relevance continues to be hampered somewhat by the lack of attendance from mega-brands Trek and Specialized, Shimano’s scaled-back appearance was less noticeable. The component company still operated a modest show display and ran a full slate of technical and sales seminars during the show, where retailers could attend clinics on everything from Dura-Ace front derailleur adjustment to tips on selling disc brake pads. 

Shimano also had a substantial tent at OutDoor Demo, where a few lucky testers got to try bikes with the new XTR Di2 group, and others got to experience an XTR ride via Oculos Rift virtual reality goggles. 

Show director Pat Hus said the Demo was the most successful yet, in part because of relatively temperate weather conditions, a welcome relief after last year’s scorcher.

With some of the big exhibitors out of the indoor event, the show offered more opportunities for new and revitalized brands like Blue Bicycles, where traffic was steady for much of the show.

“It all went well,” said Blue CEO Steven Harad. “Busy show and lots of ‘Can’t believe you pulled that off’ comments,” he added, referring to the brand’s reappearance after nearly two seasons off the market.

This year organizers of Wednesday night’s CrossVegas race reported that spectator attendance was up by about 2,000 people. Race director Brook Watts said the event is now working more closely with the show.

“Private VIP areas were bigger than ever. The industry is learning how to use the race to entertain guests,” Watts said.

This year Interbike’s VIP dealers were offered VIP treatment at the race. “We included comp CrossVegas admission in a last-minute effort (Interbike) did, resulting in a nice bump in attendance,” Watts said.

As for Friday’s consumer day, while a Las Vegas newspaper pegged consumer attendance at 1,200, most observers said consumer traffic appeared lower than in 2013, when 750 consumers turned out, according to figures from Interbike. Many exhibitors said they had to adjust to the public’s presence, removing wholesale price sheets and watching for theft. One exhibitor had to chase down a consumer who walked off with an expensive chain early Friday; the consumer said he thought it was “a sample.”

But regardless of where the official consumer tally comes in, it was clear that exhibitors and retailers were less spooked by the whole idea this year. While last year’s final day was often crypt-like, this year many retailers stuck around and could be seen doing business on Friday.

“I haven’t seen many turquoise badges, but there are some retailers still here, which is something,” said Brett Hahn of Continental Tire, referring to the telltale color of consumer badges on Friday. 

Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences, Interbike

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