COMMENT: On with the shows

The cycle trade's show season is almost at a close,with notable exceptions like next week's Moore Large seminars still to come. We've dedicated plenty of pages, online and in print, to previews, reviews and guides to some of the key bike trade events taking place up and down the UK.
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And while there’s plenty of slinky new kit to talk about and feast your eyes on, it’s also a busy period that has, as ever, stretched dealer’s resources thin. The jam-packed show season inevitably means precious hours will be spent out of the shop, with dealers facing tough decisions on what show, or shows, are essential and which are not.

And it’s not just a predicament for retailers. Trade shows and open days can be cash-hungry events that dent distributors’ wallets, and added to the cost of shows (consumer and trade) later in the year, they’re a sizeable additional expense, recession or not. But perhaps the most pressing concern of all for show organisers is ensuring that dealers attend their events. Show-specific deals and incentives are some of the key methods of drawing in the crowds, and they’re proof of the importance distributors put on the shows.

And it’s not hard to see why trade shows are so heavily invested in. What better way is there for distributors to let retailers get their hands on the latest products and initiatives on offer? Financially, the pros of getting everyone to come to you to outweighs the cons, despite initial bills. And when else will retailers get chance to provide feedback to manufacturers, reinforce product knowledge and get a handle on the burgeoning trends of the season?

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the trade show is the chance it provides for the trade to get face-to-face with the names and voices they phone, email and dare I say bitch about on the forum every day.

The cycle trade rightly places a high value on meeting up in the flesh, cementing relationships and getting the kind of feedback that you can only really get in person. So despite the numerous benefits of social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, it seems you just can’t beat a good old fashioned trade meeting.

One of my overriding impressions from the shows, other than the fact that the trade knows how to sink a drink or two, is the passion and enthusiasm that industry has for cycling, and not just for making money, which not even liberal doses of cynicism can seem to dampen. And that’s another reason why the cramped show season is here to stay.

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