Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Thoughts On The Demise Of Interbike

 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Late last week the bombshell announcement that there would be no 2019 Interbike show was dropped on the world.

No one cared but bike nerds......

I just wanted to get that out of the way first, because in reality, only diehard cycling nut-jobs give a rip about any of this stuff. (Which, in a way points out a big problem, but that's another story) Anyway, I figured that I would offer a little bit more in depth thought and analysis from my perspective now that the dust has settled a bit. My initial take can be seen here.

There were a lot of reactions ranging from "it's about time" to all sorts of hand wringing about what is going to become of cycling now that its central gathering force is now going to be absent for the foreseeable future. I have two main thoughts about this and the first stems from what I read in Emerald Exposistions' original statement on the matter, which I doubt a lot of folks have actually taken the time to read.

They (Emerald) said that their hope is to integrate, or set alongside, any future iteration of a bicycle show with any of their several outdoor sports expositions. Emerald owns and operates several sports shows, so this would perhaps make sense in the short term. Also, it was mentioned that any future bicycle show might be regional in nature. This also makes a LOT more sense than one, more or less West Coast-centric show which not a lot of shop owners and employees can get to for various reasons. Travel expenses being tops on that list, obviously.

When I look at what Emerald Expositions states in that release, I am reading that,"Since Interbike is small, and too centralized in the West, it makes more sense to us to regionalize the show in multiple places and on multiple dates to maximize attendance. It also makes more sense monetarily to combine it within other shows which will bring more eyeballs to both cycling and other outdoor sports."

Regional shows like those put on by distributor QBP and CABDA show promise
 Let's face it, bicycling is in a cycle where it is seemingly at a low point. Show attendance has been in decline at Interbike for well over a decade. In that same time, regional bicycle shows have thrived. Sea Otter being the preeminent one, but shows that distributor QBP put on- Frostbike, Saddledrive, and shows like CABDA have drawn good attendance figures for years in a regional capacity. You have to figure that the folks at Emerald Expositions are at least paying some attention to that.

However; my second "main thought" concerning the demise of Interbike has to do with something I saw very, very few folks touch upon in the reactions I saw to the announcement. That is a thing that is as plain as the nose on my face- The Information Age. 

Many of you know I refer to the internet as the "innergoogles" because between all the ways we can share information and Google's search engine, anything you want to know about you can probably find out about within seconds. Anything. Including the latest, greatest bike gear and bicycles. Not only that, but you can likely get that info these days direct from manufacturers, or brands, and if not directly, through their PR firms. Whatever the case may be, the end result is that news can be found fast. You don't really need magazines, radio, T.V., or trade shows. All you needed was someone there to upload it all to the "intergoogles" and BOOM! End of traditional business model, baby.

This cultural shift, which happened over a period of the last 20 years, has completely upended, or what current marketing likes to say has "disrupted", everything. Literally everything. Media, schools, retail, business, music....... You get it. Everything. This includes trade shows like Interbike. Even the Interbike people tacitly admitted this when in 2017 they made a big push for everyone to attend the next Interbike in Reno, Nevada because it was the only place the industry could meet face to face.

Notice- they didn't say we needed to go to "get business done", or to "see the latest bicycles and technology", or that we should even go there to ride bicycles. They harped on the "face to face", meet people angle, because, well..........that was the only reason left to go. Meanwhile industry expo attendees were left to foot the bill for a show they brought their wares to that had no relevance in the marketplace anymore. Their return on investing in the show? The meeting of other people in the industry? I'm sorry, that's all great and stuff, but the accountants aren't down with it so much. Those accountants probably would rather that you meet people on your own dime. On the other hand you had bicycle dealers who had already placed pre-season, (if that is still a thing) orders, and had already seen the latest gear and bicycles debuted, reviewed, and forum dissected to death for weeks before Interbike ever opened their doors for that particular year. Nothing to see why go? 

From my perspective, Interbike lost relevance altogether eight years ago. The last few times I went I was pretty much wasting time and money. The decision was made in 2013 not to ever go again, and frankly, I was completely justified in that decision over the years. As a person who could be said to be loosely associated with the industry in some capacity, I suppose, I wasn't missing anything that had any relevance to my sites, I was certainly saving money, and saving time. For me, it was a win-win not to go to Interbike.

Finally, I do not see anything like Interbike ever happening again. If there is another, centralized, all-encompassing bicycle convention, it won't be "Interbike". It will be something completely different.

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