Richard, of Cyclelicio.us, commented recently in response to my post that retailer registration was open for this year’s Interbike by wondering how the bike industry would respond given the current condition of the economy. He hinted that it could go either way with high energy prices encouraging more bike use but also a sour economy that could cause many people to re-evaluate their spending habits.
Are retailer registration numbers a bellwether for the condition of the bike industry as a whole? Obviously, to some degree they are, but I’m not sure as to how much. Regardless, numbers are looking very strong early in the game here for 2008: individual buyer registration numbers are up about 42% compared to the same number of weeks out from the show as last year. The number of businesses (primarily stores) that have registered already is showing an even larger percentage increase being up 52% over last year. For what it’s worth, the numbers for Interbike’s sister show, Health+Fitness Business, are up even higher.
I sincerely don’t mean this as a shameless sales plug here, just an informative look into a statistic that represents something about the state of the industry. There are many factors that could effect this number and one of them to not overlook is that we have a renewed emphasis on retailer outreach with a marketing person dedicated to the job. We also take pride in the fact that we’ve continued to try to make the show increasingly relevent, effective, informative and, yes, entertaining to attendees.
With that said, we also know that this is a mature industry that isn’t growing by leaps and bounds, as all of you in the biz know too well. We can’t realistically expect to have 42% more people showing up in September, but the early interest in attending is surely a positive sign for the industry. Are people just registering earlier than last year because we’ve been communicating better? Are more people more interested in attending this year because of the opportunities or challenges that the economy is presenting us? We’ll see. 17 weeks to go…
OK, shameless plug time. Despite all the great networking and communicating that takes place online between all the great industry blogs, podcasts, videos, Twitterings, etc., we still believe in the value of the face-to-face social networking that takes place at a trade show–especially in such a passionate and tight-knit industry like ours that has so much to gain by getting together and working together.
See you in Vegas! (and Providence!)