Tag Archives: indianapolis

2013 dealer expo lands with thud

Riders Edge captures the mood

2013 event turnout follows disappointing trend

“To me the most important thing we need to do right now is listen to our customers. In order for us to get back on track, we need to talk less, listen more and fully partner with the customers who are the reason Dealer Expo exists.” Harris said. “Our industry has changed. What people need from this show has changed. But, we’ve been somewhat slow to embrace that. That ends today.” – Tracy Harris, Advanstar VP-Expositions

Houston, we have a problem. And we’ve had it for a long time. The buzz coming out of this month’s final forever February Dealer Expo was this: zzzzzzzzz. Most comments run along the lines of being able to talk to company CEOs without a crowd – any crowd – around, as unintentionally confirmed by most of the live (search YouTube for 2013 dealer expo) video already uploaded. (Read more about the issues facing trade shows: Trade Shows At A Crossroads)

While it’s been a few years since I last attended, YouTube reporting now making its way online supports the notion that Advanstar threw a party and nobody came. At least not in numbers unseen since the heyday of the mid 2000s.

move to september in 2014 a hail mary

Next year they’ll move to a (much more sensible, and perhaps fatally too long in coming) Fall event, a perfect time to be in the Midwest. All this follows a series of course corrections that can’t be described as anything other than chaotic.

Adding the IMS public event and a crowd pleaser at that to coincide with the trade only show in the convention center should have produced better numbers but it didn’t. What it did do was lead to small embarassments as many vendors appeared confused as to the difference between trade only, public, and yes dealer price lists. Somewhere, Homer Simpson’s LOLing.

former exhibitor measures event value

Industry watchdog Joel Martin raised his own penalty flag as one of the first to comment publicly on the failure to deliver the dealer head count that is the lifeblood of a trade only event.

What happens next remains to be seen. The overall trend line for trade shows in general continues to head in the wrong direction. As newly added events like AIME elbow their way onto the scene, Advanstars options are increasingly limited but that doesn’t mean they’re dead in the water.

What it does mean is that the powersports industry cannot continue to support the current level of trade only activity at the present level. While hope these days revolves around the private-public EICMA and Intermot models, it’s possible the problems run much deeper than simply throwing open the doors to retail.

parts, drag specialties don life vests

dealer expo fights image problem

traditional event partners vote with their feet

One thing the troubled world of powersports trade events can’t survive and still maintain a credible industry presence is the abandonment of anchored floor space by major distributors.

The increasingly anemic dealer turnout that’s plagued Expo in recent years takes another hit as the persistent rumor of Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties departing Indy in favor of building their own corporate footprint apparently has legs.

move will affect dealer attendance, manufacturer exhibits

LeMans is expected to announce a budget reallocation that shifts marketing funds from Dealer Expo to expand their own self-hosted Showcase dealer show to include bi-coastal (CA and PA) additions, each with up to 200 vendor slots, in a move that further suppresses aftermarket manufacturer participation in traditional venues.

dealer expo credibility gets shredded

everything coming up roses? not so fast

The continuing struggles of the powersports market coupled with the rise of social media haven’t been kind to Advanstar’s Dealer Expo signature event, even less so to its flagship b2b pub Dealernews. This fact was painfully born out when Joel Martin, head of Martin Racing Performance and a leading scooter segment authority, blasted the media giant on his blog for their spin describing last month’s 44th annual trade show. Then he reloaded. In the background I could hear Foster The People humming Pumped Up Kicks.

Mr. Martin took it personally when, after extensively documenting the event for his own blog and YouTube channel, he failed to recognize the franchise version of the very same show.

There’s no disguising how much the exhibitor base has shifted since I vBlog’d the event in 2008 or last walked the show in 2009 while questioning Dealer Expo’s marketing strategy as showing serious signs of strain, an opinion that’s since proven both prophetic and accurate. Meanwhile, Advanstar’s continued attempt to revive a zombie V-Twin show within a show came up snake eyes – again.

winners 0 losers 2

There are no winners here. A shrinking powersport dealer network that depends on industry press for an accurate picture of how the market is performing, where it’s going, and trends to watch for, gets shortchanged on reality. And there’s the brand that is Advanstar, and the issue of trust and reputation management. Independently verified opinion polling? Missing in action – just the self-congratulatory quotes from corporate employees.

It’s true that, especially for first time attendees, the view is more that of green meadows and perpetual sunshine. But for long time participants well aware of the meteoric rise in market performance from the mid ’90’s to the mid ‘oo’s, there’s no masquerading the increasingly dire situation facing brick and mortar retailers.

time to make lemonade

Who then to fault? Aftermarket manufacturers, industry media, and dealers themselves. All can be called to task for repeatedly failing to ask critical questions, invest in essential marketing, and for blindly continuing to embrace a business plan that’s lost its mojo. Other industries have adapted to similar challenges – Performance Racing Industries’ Orlando event comes to mind.

The industry desperately needs a venue or venues that, like any other dedicated channel, provides a well managed opportunity for buyers and sellers to gather in a common marketplace for a couple of days to assess, visit, become informed, learn, and above all profit. It’s a void Marketplace Events hopes to exploit with their newly launched American International Motorcycle Expo set to open next year. Stay tuned.

dealer expo – smaller, better

fewer faces, better experienceThis year’s Dealer Expo was a smaller, more efficient version of the past several years. Surprise hit was newly minted Lucas Oil Stadium venue, which just felt better than the creaky dome it replaced.

Expecting the worst, we were pleasantly surprised. Check out our review and highlights from this year’s show.

ouch! anybody got a bandaid?

Nobody saw this one coming. Hurricane Ike, weeks in the making, barreled through the Caribbean, Galveston and Houston before slopping over Indianapolis Motor Speedway just in time to intersect the inaugural running of the Indianapolis Red Bull MotoGP.

The event marked a resumption of motorcycle racing at the historic venue, which last hosted a contest back in 1909.

Estimated at over 91,000, the crowd braved torrential rain and wind to witness the premiere event. Viewers were treated to the impossiblity of high speed riding that more closely resembled two-wheeled water skiing before finally being red flagged eight laps from the finish.

Get complete details from Cycle World, along with a first ever web cast press conference, here and here.