It’s been 15 years since I took a time out from the annual powersports trade show pilgrammage. Fifteen years of slogging north (why?) into the snow, sleet and slush, usually followed by a bike week encore, first in the mid ’60s but later abandoned as full on lifestyle turned 100-percent commercial. This year, I’m giving it a rest and using the time to concentrate instead on overdue hardware and software upgrades while dedicating a serious investment in time to integrate the latest high tech applications into a leaner, more efficient production and marketing workflow.
What’s changed? Plenty. Before the web, annual trade shows were the only opportunity for new product, catalogs, trends and personalities to converge. Schedules were built around catalog production deadlines. Business publications targeted show issues to preview a limited number of the latest products selected months in advance, and dealers learned about what they’d be selling during the coming year only after they got to the show. Life was orderly and well behaved. Marketplace control was top down and ironfisted in a traditional analog way. That was then. Continue reading