Two years of intensive market research and one-on-one conversations with key industry players led to the launch of the American International Motorcycle Expo in October. That data-centric, information-gathering approach has continued through its first year.
Though Marketplace Events’ first show in the motorcycle sector—it primarily produces home shows—drew more than 13,000 attendees and almost 400 exhibitors, organizers have decided to cut the show by a day in 2014 (Oct. 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando).
Larry Little, general manager of Marketplace Events Motorcycle Group, explains what evidence led his group to make the decision, and why he’s still projecting 20-percent growth, even with the streamlined schedule.
Expo: Why are you shortening the show?
Larry Little: As a first-year event, we had a plan to have two-and-a-half days of trade and press, followed by two-and-a-half days of consumer, and we closed the show down for four hours between them. For a variety of reasons, it just wasn’t as smooth of a transition as we’d hoped.
We got a lot of feedback from exhibitors saying that, with one less night of expense at the show, they could probably do what they wanted to do. That was a lot of the on-site feedback we got, and we followed that up with surveying of not only the exhibitors, but the trade visitors and the consumer visitors. It was clear that a four-day show was what people wanted.
Expo: You had a 4-hour space between the trade and consumer shows where exhibitors could convert their booths over to a retail setup. How many exhibitors actually took advantage of that time and, logistically, how is the transition going to work now?
Little: We really didn’t need that bridge day in between. It was going to be much cleaner if everyone changed their booths after the show closed on the last day of trade. [Now,] the trade day ends at 6 p.m., so the exhibitors that go to a retail setup will have the opportunity to change that evening or before the consumer show opens in the morning.
In the inaugural year, there weren’t a whole lot [of exhibitors changing setups], so that was another motivating factor for us. I’d say less than 20 percent went from a trade setup to a retail one.
Expo: Specifically, what data did you look at to inform the decision?
Little: We sent an exhibitor survey out a couple of weeks after the show, then a survey to the trade attendees, then a bit after that, we surveyed the consumers. It was clear, not only from our one-on-one interaction at the show, but from the surveying done afterward, that four days was enough right now.
Expo: What else did you learn?
Little: The surveys told us that the trade attendees were very happy with our education and seminar program. The fact that we had not only indoor exhibit space within the hall, but outdoor exhibit space where motorcycle manufacturers were offering demo rides, was a big hit with retailers as well as consumers. That was one thing that made our show unique—not only could you see our product on the showfloor, but you could go outside and ride on it.