Tag Archives: trade show

aimexpo set to launch

Powersports Gets New Show

Recent news from Advanstar that the Dealernews February Dealer Expo, held in Indianapolis after moving west from Cincy in 1998 but suffering badly from lagging attendance and exhibitor disinterest since the high water mark in the mid ’00s, will move to Chicago in 2014 means the newly formed AIME consumer show faces a much lower bar to overcome as a cross-channel powersports industry marketing event.

Orlando has enjoyed major motorsports industry success as a destination for years. Ironically, after welcoming thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of attendees since moving the event south, the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) expo, held in OCCC’s North-South venue since 2001, returns to Indy this December as part of a SEMA brokered reunification with the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS, aka, hard core racing).

I’ve enjoyed many industry events in Vegas, Indy, Cincy before and after, and in Orlando – in both the West Building hosting AIME’s inaugural outing and the massive North South venue across the street. Considering Orlando’s in my back yard – midway between where I grew up on Merritt Island an hour south of Daytona and where I now live on the Gulf shores – it’s with some amount of satisfaction that the move I’ve long recommended to the powersports industry has now come to pass.

“We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here!”

SEMA registrationI’m proud to identify myself as an advertising and PR professional who attended his first powersports industry event in the lobby of a long forgotten Daytona Beach hotel while studying Journalism and Communications as a PR major at the University of Florida in the late ’60s.

So yes, it comes as somewhat of a rude shock to discover that the critically important marketing professions have been explicitly excluded from the B2B portion of the event by way of a regressive, considered, exorbitant admission fee. In my own home state no less.

“Non-exhibiting manufacturers and service providers can obtain credentials to attend AIMExpo during the exclusive trade-only days on October 16, 17, & 18, 2013 by paying a mandatory $400 registration fee per person.” (Emphasis added)

This, despite the occupations’ marquee status as a major advertised component of the event’s announced educational sessions. Well that’s just stupid. Nothing like slamming the door in the face of an industry you’re only too happy to promote from a short list of insider presenters.

Unfortunately, AIME management seems content to continue to fail to grasp the critical role pr and marketing communicators play in the age of global social media or the technical nuances that go with. Note to organizers: the hot topic in mar-com these days is the merging of journo and pr as creators of much coveted retail content.

  • Exhibit A: Google “AIME” – discover why product and event naming is an art, not a commodity, in an SEO ruled universe.
  • Exhibit B: a Facebook invitation to this pr pro to “like” the event’s Spanish language page. Uh, yo no hablo español.

“Please note: Media credentials will be provided to reporters, writers, editors, videographers, photographers and producers. Advertising, sales & marketing and administrative staff are not considered working media and will not be provided with media credentials.” Ok, got it. Marketers are pariahs. Insult to injury, message received, message understood.

In the all important social media promoted message sweepstakes (including blogs), organizers have said no and no again to any WOM publicity on behalf of their aftermarket and OEM clients – the exhibitors.

For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.

As a content manager for a powersports dealer and other aftermarket clients, say so long to any professional mar-com generated event coverage or mentions. For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.

So with that not so slight slight out of the way, here’s some of what you might expect, might need to know, and might want to discover if you make the trip.

One Booth You’ve Got To Visit

For first time – and nearly all will be – powersports visitors to the massive OCCC facilities on International Drive, here’s a little insight into what you can expect compared to Indy’s mid-winter experience.

Weatherwise, October comes in as our second most active month for major storms, including hurricanes, behind September – which right now is pretty soggy. Just saying, come prepared for the occasional raindrop and although it’s early Fall for us it may still seem like the height of Summer, depending. Here’s what else you might want to know.

GoPro is an announced exhibitor, and based on past experience not only is their booth a blast, it’s the best chance you’ll (probably) have to score an on-the-house camera. They always bring game, and theirs is one of the hippest and smartest booth marketing efforts you’ll see. Free beer’s a definite possibility, but even if it weren’t the show and tell theme makes this big dog and pony a must see.

Where Ya’ At?

When it comes to a place to stay, the sky’s the limit. Metro Orlando is second only to NYC in lodging. One of Indy’s major draws was the ease of pedestrian access between downtown lodging and the convention center. OCCC? Eh, not so much.

Odds are you’ll want to stay reasonably close by on International Drive, and there’re plenty of options to choose from, from lux to how many can we cram in a room.

Who’s Driving!

Nobody drove to and fro in Indy. Make that virtually nobody, as downtown parking was a sparse commodity. Whether you were holed up out by the airport or in more recent years downtown, private show shuttles and the connected airwalks were the way folks got around.

Orlando’s different. Unless you’re staying across the street from the West Building in either of the Rosen properties or the Peabody, best bring your hiking boots.

In fact, even if you did snatch a room at one of those facilities, the walking distance still might come as a shock compared to, say, Indy’s Hyatt.

PRI, to its great credit, put together a fleet of convenient and timely hop on board show buses that operated around the clock during event hours and included the (understatement) popular Beer On The Bus after each day’s close. AIME hasn’t said, but the difference in scale probably precludes anything similar.

If you’ve got a car, you’re in good shape. Parking’s plentiful at the OCCC – $15 at the venue lot. On street? No and no. Otherwise, you’re likely marooned and will have to depend on public transport and private taxis to get around.

What’s For Dinner?

Unlike Indy – very unlike – you won’t find a dense downtown collection of closely connected destinations reachable – weather permitting – within easy walking distance. And also unlike the business oriented downtown Indy vibe, Orlando – make that Florida – is mostly indifferent, what with close to 70 million annual visitors tracking up the front hall.

If there’s going to be one major complaint, it will be the lack of memorable and/or quick dining options. Forget anything like St. Elmo or Palomino, although Tommy Bahama offers an interesting menu – the crab bisque in particular. Orlando is home to the Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) Group, and that means you’ll most likely end up at a theme inspired franchise, take a number, and wait for your server to hustle up touristy drinks and mostly mediocre fare.

If over the years spent at Indy you’d grown accustomed to making a dash, quick or otherwise, outside Expo to grab a burger at Steak and Shake, a Happy Meal at Mickey D’s or one of Palomino’s fabo pizzas, well hang on to those memories. You wish.

I can say this without equivocation: OCCC food is nothing if not expensive, considering it’s mediocrity. You’re pretty much a captive audience while at the event – $15 for the cardboard inspired All American Cheeseburger, fries and a soda may have you begging for mercy after a couple of days.

What To Do Besides

Wellllll, besides Biketoberfest, there’s Disney some miles west or Universal just up the street – where you can grab a Duff beer at the brand new Simpsons’ Springfield attraction. Just around the corner there’s Sea World and dicey off-road adventure can always be had on S. Orange Blossom Trail (not on any tourist map or ticket kiosk). Or you could head 45 minutes east and spend some time hanging out at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp for a taste of the kind of food I grew up on, finishing up with an airboat ride around the St. John’s River fed Lake Poinsett.

Then, if you haven’t been yet, continue your journey up to NASA’s excellent Kennedy Space Center (KSC), then out to Cocoa Beach and a run through home boy Ron Jon’s original Surf Shop for a memorable dude experience before heading home.

Welcome to Florida!

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.

pri celebrates 25th motorsports expo

Performance Racing Industry 2012 PRI 25th Trade Show

pri ends orlando run with successful show in sunshine

December’s 25th annual Performance Racing Industry trade show was the first under new owner Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) and recorded a solid three-day run of attendees in search of merchandise.

Just before show open, SEMA announced the purchase of PRI rival International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS), which has hosted a December trade only show in Indianapolis since forming nine years ago. Beginning in 2013, SEMA will combine both shows and move the event to the new convention facilities in Indy. continue reading here

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.

five ways to tune your event marketing

This month’s announcement by Advanstar that the International Motorcycle Show added Indianapolis to their circuit to coincide with the annual Dealernews Dealer Expo trade only show offers a buffet of engagement oriented marketing opportunities from which to pick and choose. Here’s a short list to get the ideas flowing.

event marketing strategies engagement starter list

  1. QR Code: if you’re going to include one be sure to test first before committing to collateral or digital. Smaller isn’t better – just less likely to be read by apps, resulting in potential customers unhappy with their smartphone, scanner, or your code when nothing happens.
  2. Event Web Page: update and include consumer and dealer side engagement. Why? Live feeds and updates, repost to fb, twitter, etc. all deliver credibility.
  3. POP/POS: Show your dealers a little love, which by the way works to increase your bottom line. How? Fresh kit of high ROI poster, counter mat, floor talker.
  4. Engagement: Connect with consumers and dealers at the same level with the goal of bringing them together for the sale. How? #hashtag
  5. Social: Think irresistible booth situations to encourage photography/video by new to you customers/dealers. Make sure posting tags are suggested so all roads lead to you. How? If appropriate, make sure product display is camera friendly.

The list of resources to leverage both the existing customer base and a brand new Indy market is long, while budgets to carry out event activities can be contentious. The trick is figuring out which are affordable and offer the best opportunity for  continuing the conversation.

dealer expo makes big news, adds ims

languishing event nails two birds with one well thrown stone

Answering the challenge posed by upstart promoter American International Motorcycle Expo’s rival show launch, scheduled for Orlando in 2013, Advanstar’s Dealernews Dealer Expo threw down on the new kids by dropping a bombshell that goes a long way towards restoring lost luster to the long-running event.

Dealernews announced today that the co-promoted International Motorcycle Show has added Indianapolis to their popular coast-to-coast tour. The public event, to run concurrently during February’s Dealer Expo, elegantly solves the thorny question of whether or not troubled trade-only industry events should host separate consumer access to the same exhibits as a survival strategy in the face of dwindling attendance.

IMS, backed by the considerable resources of Progressive Insurance in the role as title sponsor, has long been a popular destination for tens of thousands of consumers during 12 stops annually. Next year, with top of the line venues Lucas Oil Stadium and the freshly expanded Indianapolis Convention Center hosting their respective events, the opportunities for powersports marketeers are substantial, with both B2B and B2C reach available at the same time, in non-competing, comfortable, and convenient environments. For both established lines and just out of the gate startups, it’s a golden moment to engage and promote.

competing venues outstrip marketeers resources

Even as the ink on SEMA’s (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) takeover of PRI (Performance Racing Industry) is still drying, that event’s tepid courtship of the two-wheeled trade has so far failed to make hearts beat faster. Meanwhile the Easyriders branded V-Twin Expo mostly Harley weekend get-together in Cincinnati two weeks pre-Indy limps along to shrinking attendance and mixed reviews.

Can Dealer Expo slam the brakes on their downward trend by convincing a reticent powersports aftermarket manufacturing community to reinvest in what has become an auction and Pan-Asian agri-scooter free trade zone? At a time when industry trade shows in general continue to time out, thanks mainly to a sluggish economy and the power of the internet, the proof may well lie in imaginative promotion. This is a great start.

See past coverage of Dealer Expo, SEMA, V-Twin Expo and PRI here.

performance racing industry pri expo

Performance Racing Industries Returns To Orlando

PRI has found a permanent home at the Orange County Convention Center. Though exhibitors and attendance was somewhat smaller than in years past, the net result was an event that was easier to navigate and absorb. The 2011 event featured live, knockout kart racing and a list of vendors that represented every sector of automotive related performance. Read the complete article here.

taking a break from dealer expo

dealer expo: the early yearsIt’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

dealer show trade wars

more shows, fewer dealers - something doesn't add upMotorsports has another performance oriented venue for dealers to put on the go – no go list: upstart International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) now goes head to head with the well established Performance Racing Industry (PRI) event, both held the first week in December: IMIS in Indianapolis, the former home of PRI, which was successfully transplanted to usually sunny Orlando and a much larger exhibit facility a few years back.

And both of those shows compete for many of the same dealers normally attending the granddaddy of all automotive events, the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) Las Vegas spectacle traditionally held less than a month earlier in November.

SEMA, meanwhile, padded their portfolio with a newly created Powersports and Utility Vehicles channel which, according to their March press release, “…will feature manufacturers of power-driven equipment, such as personal transporters; motorcycles; motor scooters; two-, three- and four-wheel ATVs; pocket bikes; specialty golf carts; mini-bikes; dirt bikes; and accessories and services that support these vehicles.”

Good news – not – for long established powersports event leader Advanstar who this week conceded more collateral damage to their brand when they announced the Lucas Oil Stadium venue would not be part of their mid-February 2010’s Dealer Expo, also held in Indy after vacating Cincinnati for larger digs in 1998.

And it was that relocation decision that opened the door for Easyriders V-Twin Dealer Expo to move back in with a v-twin centric show of their own in 2000, held a week before Dealer Expo and next year celebrating their 10th anniversary as a trade show producer.

Five major shows covering powersports and motorsports between November and February. If you’re a powersports or motorsports or, worse, a cross channel dealer, be prepared to spend a lot more time on the road wearing out shoe leather and traversing TSA inspections.

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.