Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The "Interbike Golden Ticket": An Opinion

Notice: The following is this author's opinion and may or may not reflect the opinions of anyone else. I base my opinions today on published material from the Internet and my own personal observations and experiences from my Interbike attendance over the past several years. In the end, I suggest you make up your own mind based on your own research. Now, on with the story.....

For the trade only.
 Interbike- The North American bicycle trade show that happens every Fall. I have been to several of these shows, dating back to the 90's. A lot has changed over the years with Interbike since those days, I'll tell ya that much.

One thing that has not changed much is the consumer's desire to "get inside" and see the stuff before everyone else. Well, maybe it has changed a little bit, since you can sit at home and scour the Internet and see almost everything virtually, but actually being there still trumps all. The trade has not ever allowed consumers to venture into those noisey, bustling halls, until next year. That's when- if you are one of the lucky few- you can get what Interbike's Pat Hus describes as a golden ticket of sorts. He is quoted in a "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" article as saying the following, " In year one, we want to make it feel exclusive...."

That's cool. The plan is for Interbike to allow a pre-determined number of "passes" to be made available to independent bike shops who in turn are advised to give  out said passes to "special customers" who will be allowed into Interbike on the final day of the show for a fee of $50.00 a head. The passes will be limited, (but no solid number has been proffered as yet), and will be heavily weighted toward shops in the Southwest. Details on just how this all will pan out will be made known at a later date.

Interbike's Outdoor Demo
Again, I have no horse in this race, so whatever happens is fine by me, but I find it rather odd that on one hand the Interbike folks are 'opening a door" to consumers and not "shutting the back door" that's been open a crack for years. So, is the new Consumer Day really exclusive?

What I mean is this: Consumers, (perhaps only the crafty and slightly cheeky ones, but consumers none the less), have been attending Interbike for years, and Interbike knows this is going on. 

My point is that if you are saying that the trade show is "letting consumers in on the last day only", and you are not providing answers for how the rest of the show will be devoid of consumers, then the whole to-do seems sort of meaningless. So far, Interbike has not provided for how they will police "sneak ins", other than to say that they are being more strict on who is an actual business and who is not upon signing up to get into the show.

Going back to my previous years at the show, one thing always stands out to me. The last day is always sort of a joke. In fact- I quit attending the final day of Interbike a few years ago, since it was a waste of time. Vendors were slowly packing up throughout the day. The last year I attended on the final day, it was not unusual to see several empty booths by noon!

What's more, the booth folk are just about fried to a crispy texture by Friday. And who can blame them? Many of these folks fly into the show a week in advance of the last day or even more to set up meetings, arrange for deliveries, and set up their show booths. Then they have to survive Monday through Thursday doing Outdoor Demo and the indoor show. Friday? All many want to do is chat, have a beer, and get on with getting outta Dodge.

Bicycle riding: The fun part.
Interbike says that with the new Consumer day on the last day of the show, hours will be extended until 6pm. Yep. That'll probably work, right? Consumers will really get a good look and feel for Interbike that way.

Well, I don't think so, really. In fact, I don't think it is a very good idea at all. Put people you want to impress in front of half crazed, bored, dog tired, booth ridden employees and expect that to turn out for the best? It's a little like the parents who expect toddlers to be perfectly behaved after 14 aisles of grocery shopping. Yeah.......right! But maybe I'm all wrong about that. It isn't putting the best foot forward though, in my opinion.

And getting back to the consumers who are slipping through the cracks anyway. Listen- I've seen them, met with them, and have noted some of them at multiple shows. Unless Interbike tightens the reins, I don't see anything changing with regard to these folks, and I feel that if you ever wanted to get into Interbike before, you probably have, and will again. But it won't be under the new "Golden Ticket" policy, I bet. No.....those folks will be at Outdoor Demo and the first couple of days of Interbike, most likely, just as in previous years. Why wait until the last day? All the fun is riding the bikes at the demo and seeing everything before anyone else you know does anyway, right?

The Golden ticket folks? Well..... Interbike says these folks will drive consumer sales at the retail level due to this new found exposure to the inner sanctum. We'll see how that all pans out.

1 comment:

MG said...

Meh... I love bikes, but the only way I'd go to interbike is if there was a need to go for my employer, or a client.

I've worked enough tradeshows to know there is nothing special beyond those walls, so to pay $50 to see what's there is not my idea of utopia. I see why they're doing it (because they're trying to keep the last day of the show valid to increase attendance and stem the tide of exhibitors walking out half-way through the day), but I'm not hesitant to say it's something I don't want or need.

I'd rather use the same money to build a new set of fatbike wheels... Now there's something that makes sense to me!