Interbike, the largest cycling tradeshow in the United States, will open its showfloor to selected consumers on the last day of next year’s show, scheduled Sept. 18-20 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
“These consumers have been trying for years to get into Interbike,” says the Nielsen Expositions’ show manager Pat Hus.
Hus explained in a press conference earlier today that the cycling industry, the show and the retailers who represent the majority of its qualified attendees face increasing online competition and this is one way to battle it.
“We want to help build and strengthen the relationship between dealers and their best customers,” Hus says.
Beginning in April, retailers who register for the show will receive a limited number of invitations they can pass on to what they consider their best consumers. Consumers will have to visit the retailers to get their invitations and there will be $50 charge for each consumer who chooses to attend Interbike, which either the retailers can cover or pass on to the consumers themselves.
Each retailer will be allotted a certain number of invitations, according to a system based on geographic location. “It is weighted toward those in the Southwest because that’s where most of our retailers are,” Hus says.
The 2012 show, held at the Sands Expo/Venetian/Palazzo, also in Las Vegas, attracted a record crowd of more than 25,000 tradeshow attendees and 1,200 exhibiting companies.
Justin Gottlieb, Interbike communications director, estimated 2,000 to 3,000 consumers would participate. He also noted a number of cycling events will take place in Las Vegas the week before and the weekend following the show, including the Viva Bike Vegas race.
“But it’s not enough,” Hus says. “Our job is to constantly improve the show.”
The annual event will begin with an OutDoor Demo scheduled Sept. 16-17 next year in Boulder City, Nev., before moving to Mandalay Bay for the show’s three-day run. However, consumers will not be allowed access to the OutDoor Demo.
The show, which traditionally has opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 4 p.m. on show days, may open an hour earlier all three days and stay open two hours later on the last day (the one in which consumers will have access to the floor). Hus says the reason for the extended hours is to still allow exhibitors and retailers to complete the work they need to do in addition to working with consumers on the last day.
In order to maintain the true spirit of the B-to-B event, Hus says, under no circumstances will consumers be allowed to purchase products on the showfloor. In fact, he adds, additional security will be in place to make sure attendees do not leave the show with any merchandise and fines will be levied against any exhibitors who do attempt to sell products to consumers.
“This is a big deal,” Hus says, “and we have to mandate the no-transaction policy in order for this to be a success.”
Kevin O’Connor, owner of Gear West Bike & Triathlon in Long Lake, Minn., says of what Nielsen is calling its “Interbike by Invitation” initiative, “It’s a natural next step. Interbike should have implemented a consumer initiative years ago.”