2019 Interbike Trade Show Canceled

December 6, 2018 by  

2019 Interbike Tradeshow Canceled

Emerald Expositions, parent company of the Interbike trade show announced late Thursday that they have canceled their 2019 show, set for September 15-19 in Reno, Nevada. The announcement comes following a move from its long-time home in Las Vegas (BMX News, August 4, 2017) to Reno for 2018 and, some say, a lower-than-expected turnout by both exhibitors and dealers for the relocated show.

Darrell Denny, Executive Vice President of Emerald Expositions’ Sports Group said, in a release:

The past four years have been difficult for the U.S. bicycle market. The substantial increase in tariffs on bike related imports during 2018, and announced for 2019, is compounding these challenges. As a result, we are rethinking how to best serve the cycling industry and will conduct a review of the possible timing, locations and formats with dealers, brands, distributors, reps, designers and media over the coming months. Our goal is to develop and deliver thoughtful solutions which provide strong returns on investment for all industry participants.

As a result of this decision, Justin Gottlieb, Show Director, Andria Klinger, Sales Director, Andy Buckner, Art Director and Jack Morrissey, Marketing Manager, will be leaving the company, effective 12/31/18.

This brings new attention to a long-running discussion in the business community (not only cycling) as to whether the traditional tradeshow format has out-lived its usefulness, as markets change and e-commerce/social media compresses the distance between manufacturer and consumer.

Exhibiting in a trade show, such as Interbike, is a pricey proposition. The smallest space, a 10×10 (ez-up size) rents for $2,825, and brands can go as large as they like–such as the 25-booth “islands” Shimano and other heavy hitters had at the 2018 show. The space alone for those exhibits is upwards of $70,000.

That gets you the blank floor space. Now, you have to build the exhibit, pay for labor to come set it up, then outfit, fly-in, house and feed staff for the five days of the show. Plus, have sufficient marketing materials printed, video demos produced and staff training conducted–all before you even write one dollar of orders from the show. But to have a prayer of success, you have to lay out all this money in advance. If you think you’re going to cheap-out, you may as well stay home.

For a small brand, it’s a $10,000 investment at a BARE minimum, and for the larger brands, it can run into the hundreds of thousands. So, what happens when you don’t write as much business as you once did? What happens when you don’t write ANY business to speak of?

Modern dealers are used to ordering on a “just in time” basis now, so they are not writing the size orders that show exhibitors could once rely upon. The new product announcements that used to be a key reason to travel to a show are now rolled out to dealers and consumers alike, around the world, via Facebook live, from the conference room.

These, and many other market conditions have changed since the golden age of the trade show, in the 1980s and 90s. Imagine a time when you didn’t even have fax machines to send your order in to the manufacturers or distributors (pre-1987), and you can start to appreciate why it was so convenient to have everyone in one place, and order-up your season’s worth of stock at the show.

As the release said, this move will also see the departure of the key Interbike operations and sales staff, so our guess is that if the show does make a re-appearance in future years, it will be as a ride-along to one of Emerald’s other shows, as opposed to the stand-alone show we have known since 1982.

Interbike has been a big part of our industry since its inception, and it’s heartbreaking to see it lose the battle against market forces. But the cycling trade show is not dead yet. Even before this news, organizations like Chicago-Area Bicycle Dealers Association (CABDA) show are expanding (CABDA with a new show in So Cal next month, then home to the Chicago area in February). BMX News will bring details on those events as they unfold.

—Mike Carruth