OutDoor to expand halls; group postpones U.S. bike show, partners with Sea Otter Classic

The management group for the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in the last few weeks has made various moves that speak to its intent to become a larger force and more of a global entity.
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The management group for the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in the last few weeks has made various moves that speak to its intent to become a larger force and more of a global entity.

>> First, the Messe Friedrichshafen show management company, which also organizes the Eurobike trade show, announced it would launch a bike show in the United States to directly compete with Interbike, the U.S.'s large and popular bike show held in Las Vegas. Messe Friedrichshafen said the first U.S. show was planned for 2007.
>> Then, the trade show company announced a deal with the city of Friedrichshafen to expand its hall space on the show grounds to allow for better transportation and more exhibition space for all its shows, including OutDoor.
>> Finally, it switched gears slightly, saying it was going to postpone by a year the launch of its just-announced U.S. bike show to 2008 and partner with the Sea Otter Classic out of the gate.

OutDoor, Eurobike show grounds to expand
At a cost of Euro 50 million (USD $66 million), Messe Friedrichshafen (www.messe-fn.de) has sealed plans to expand the show grounds in Southern Germany, adding two, column-free exhibition halls (A7 and B5), a new second entrance and additional parking.

"The decision for the two additional halls is, of course, good news -- for our business in general, as also for OutDoor and Eurobike, two of our major trade shows," show project manager Stefan Reisinger told SNEWS®.

He pointed out that Eurobike was sold-out this year. The OutDoor show was too, although two halls are still used for indoor tent exhibition that could be moved outdoors.

"We see potential growth for the future and the adequate demand for a bigger showground," Reisinger added. "A second major advantage will be the improved entrance situation at the new fairground. The new east entrance will be equal to the existing west entrance in logistics, capacity and service facilities."

Construction is scheduled to start in mid-2007 and should be on-going during the OutDoor 2007 show, scheduled for July 19-22. The two new halls will add about 161,500 square feet of space (15,000 square meters), making the facility 915,000 square feet (85,000 square meters) and among the 10 largest trade show grounds in Germany. Reisinger said there should be no problems with construction during the show.

"We are already quite experienced in that issue as the showground in Friedrichshafen was already expanded with the Halls B4 and A6 (in the past) without having negative effects in our operational business," Reisinger added. "Construction will not influence our trade show business."

The new facility, which was approved by a majority of the city council, should be completed by fall 2008. The city will contribute about Euro 22 million (USD $29.2 million), leaving the rest as a long-term loan that Messe Friedrichshafen will pay back to the city.

"The decision lays an important foundation for the continued commercial and strategic success of Eurobike and OutDoor," said Rolf Mohne, CEO of Messe Friedrichshafen, in an official statement. "It allows us to continue our successful efforts."

Roll into U.S. with bike show postponed a year
Messe Friedrichshafen initially announced a month after Interbike that it was launching its own U.S.-based bike show in Portland, Ore., calling it an alternative to the huge U.S. show. At the time of the announcement, no specific dates were set, although September was named as a likely month -- Interbike is usually in late September and sometimes runs into early October -- and the show was announced as having not only exhibit space, but also a two-day outdoor demo, like Interbike.

"Over the past year or so, Messe Friedrichshafen has been approached by various bike industry sources about the need and demand for an alternative to the U.S. bike trade show scene," said new CEO Klaus Wellmann. "We investigated the possibilities and came to a unanimous decision to consider organizing an alternative show in the U.S. From the first serious considerations to the final decision and announcement, we aimed for an 'alternative' kind of show, with more of an environmental and educational emphasis."

However, in late November, Messe Friedrichshafen said it decided to postpone the launch of the U.S.-based show, adding that it would still go ahead with it in 2008. Meanwhile, organizers confirmed that a sponsorship of the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, Calif., had turned into a strategic partnership. Wellmann and the management team have said that the group is "still actively pursuing the U.S. trade show project and that preparation remains in high gear."

"Messe Friedrichshafen," said Wellmann, "is committed to raising its profile in the United States."

SNEWS® View: Hmmmm, it looks as if VNU, parent of Interbike and Outdoor Retailer, might have a bit of competition in an arena it previously had all to itself, not that this is necessarily a bad thing. No question that in Europe, Eurobike and OutDoor are very successful shows, run very, very well by Messe Friedrichshafen. One wonders whether a European-based trade show organizer could effectively operate an effective trade show across the Atlantic, in a market it really doesn't understand. We would wonder the same if Outdoor Retailer or Interbike announced plans to run a trade show in Europe.

What we also find most intriguing is Wellmann's final comment in our story above, that Messe Friedrichshafen "is committed to raising its profile in the United States." While focused for now on biking, it does have a very successful OutDoor show. So how long until Wellmann and team begin eyeing the outdoor market -- and the Outdoor Retailer trade shows -- as well?

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