Rumored 2011 Interbike/HFB date change conflict with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market creates uproar

Unconfirmed rumors in several publications about an Interbike/HFB date change have created an uproar because the alleged new dates would overlap with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011. Both show events would supposedly take place the first week of August. Read more about SNEWS’ confirmation that no dates are yet final.
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It’s no secret that Interbike has been considering a date change to August from its traditional late September time for a while – SNEWS® first mentioned this in a January 2010 story

But in the last few days unconfirmed rumors in several outdoor and bike trade publications about a date change have fueled a firestorm because the alleged new dates for the Interbike/Health & Fitness Business shows would overlap with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011. Both show events would supposedly take place the first week of August. Nielsen Expositions owns and manages all three.

SNEWS has confirmed these rumors remain just that – rumors. Interbike/HFB show director Andy Tompkins said to SNEWS that no dates have been finalized or published.

“We are still looking at various scenarios,” Tompkins told SNEWS, “and the dates that have been publicized for 2011 are at this point unconfirmed rumors.”

The 2011 dates for Interbike noted by other trade publications as a done-deal were rumored to be Aug. 3-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center, with a two-day pre-show equipment demo day slated for Aug. 1-2. Outdoor Retailer is set for Aug. 4-7, with a one-day pre-show demo day on Aug. 3. This year, the Interbike show is slated for Sept. 22-24, with the two-day demo Sept. 20-21.

“We understand this is a sensitive issue,” Tompkins told SNEWS, “and it wouldn’t help to have the Interbike dates overlap with Outdoor Retailer.”

In April, Tompkins discussed with SNEWS that earlier August dates would place the show more mid-cycle for bike industry buying and selling that has moved forward in recent years. (Click here to see an April 23, 2010, SNEWS story, discussing the likelihood of earlier dates.) The traditional late September dates have become out-of-synch with manufacturers’ needs, he said then. Europe’s largest bike show, Eurobike, traditionally starts about Sept. 1 – sticking to September partly because it cannot conflict with European traditions of August holidays.

Although the much smaller fitness market would likely see the date change as beneficial – assuming this first year of HFB location is successful and the event continues – manufacturers who exhibit at both Interbike and ORSM expressed shock and disappointment at a possible overlap in the first year of a potential three-year contract in Anaheim.

CamelBak, one company which does large portions of business in both outdoor and bike, expressed immediate dismay about a potential conflict after hearing the rumor. CamelBak’s vice president of global sales, Layne Rigney, told SNEWS that any move with a date overlap was “downright predatory.”

“I can’t explain their thinking because no one talked to us in advance of making the decision,” Rigney said. “Interbike is making many major accessories suppliers choose between trade shows, and I can’t see how the independent dealer can benefit from that.”

Osprey’s Gareth Martins said simply that he hoped the show would rethink and rework the 2011 dates because his pack and hydration company couldn’t afford two booths – but it was too early to determine what to do.

Such date conflicts often burden smaller companies more than larger ones, with Matt Patterson of hydration specialist HydraPak still puzzled over what his company would do.

“I’m flabbergasted by it. It puts a strain on our resources,” Patterson told SNEWS. “We’re shaking our heads asking, ‘How could this be the proper solution?’”

Still, with a growing outdoor business in the last four or five years, Patterson said he felt obligated to figure out a way to divide his company of 10 employees between the shows.

After hearing the unconfirmed rumors, Outdoor Industry Association sent an open letter to its members Sept. 13 expressing its surprise and dismay, vowing to fight the change:

“It is OIA’s position that this scheduling conflict will create significant resource challenges for the nearly 70 OIA members who exhibit at both trade shows. It will also cause more than 300 retailers who frequent Outdoor Retailer to choose between one of two shows,” the letter from OIA President Frank Hugelmeyer stated.

“OIA has requested that Nielsen either immediately shift Interbike away from the 2011 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show dates or postpone the move of Interbike until 2012, when non-conflicting second week of August dates become available in Anaheim,” the letter continued.

“As the OIA members most directly impacted by this decision, we strongly urge you to contact Nielsen and ask them to immediately rectify this unnecessary scheduling conflict with Outdoor Retailer,” the letter said, asking any concerned members to email Tompkins (andy.tompkins@nielsen.com), OR show director Kenji Haroutunian (kenji.haroutunian@nielsen.com) or Nielsen Expositions President David Loechner (david.loechner@nielsen.com).

Date conflicts aside, CamelBak’s Rigney also questioned the reality of asking bike retailers to leave their stores during peak bike sales summer months.

“They are asking dealers to leave their stores in the height of the season,” Rigney said, “and they’re asking vendors to abandon a show, and therefore a customer base, that is a meaningful part of their business. I expect trade show organizations to help us grow our business, not complicate it. We are going to have to make difficult decisions on how to spend our dollars in the future.”

For retailers who do business in both outdoor and bike, the date conflict in 2011 with Outdoor Retailer may give Interbike the losing card, said Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike in Lawrence, Kan. (www.sunfloweroutdoorandbike.com)

“When it comes down to an allocation of resources, unfortunately, I don’t know that I’ll go to Interbike next year (if the dates change). That’s just too much time away from my store, especially in a college market where August is huge for us,” Hughes told SNEWS.

“As a retailer who does both specialty bike and specialty outdoor, I understand Interbike wanting to move it earlier in the buying cycle so that they’re not eclipsed by Eurobike or the Trek, Giant or Specialized shows,” he added. “Interbike is fun, but I don’t do a ton of business there since my open-to-buy has pretty much been decided by the Trek show and the Specialized show. At Outdoor Retailer, on the other hand, we have a lot of appointments with small vendors, and we need to look at product.”

Prior to its co-location this year with Interbike (www.interbike.com), the Health & Fitness Business Expo (www.healthandfitnessbiz.com) had been in early August; the late September dates were one of the main complaints in SNEWS surveys earlier this year about the co-location.

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market dates for 2012 are Aug. 2-5, and in 2013 they are set for Aug. 1-4. Tompkins declined comment about potential dates for Interbike/HFB in 2012 and 2013.

SNEWS Readers: We’d love to hear what our readers think, whether you are in outdoor, bike, fitness, or two or three of those industry segments. To have your say and share your opinions, click on our SNEWS Chat, below.

--Therese Iknoian

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