The parallels drawn between Eurobike and Cycle at this year’s London show do credit to the growth of the UK trade. Exhibitors flew in from as far afield as New Zealand, just to get in on the surging interest in a market that is desperately chasing the rest of Europe’s cycling renaissance. But despite the bustling halls and the friendly vibe, was the show a success story in terms of business?
Yes, as expected, the show swelled in size, particularly from a trade perspective.
Show director Andrew Brabazon commented, post-show: “Numbers of trade attendees rose by a considerable margin. Externally audited figures are due to confirm this shortly, but from our calculations and the visual presence of crowds, we can say that the show has grown again.”
As seen on the other side of the Atlantic last year, with growth comes the need to constantly review how to best serve the widest possible audience. For the time being, location is not causing the UK trade too much of a problem (although there are calls to select a more central location). Earl’s Court is easily accessible for the majority of the UK and foreign bike trade due to its extensive network of railway routes and airports.
However, with the swelling numbers, the timescale that trade participants had to work within seemingly shrank.
According to Brabazon, 30-plus consumers were turned away on the trade day for the purpose of giving exhibitors and retail attendees the perfect environment in which to discuss business. The following day, when consumers were allowed in, a large number of trade members bolstered the consumer figures.
Simon Nash of Green Oil commented: “Although, personally, I’m comfortable with just the one trade day, I’ve noticed that the trade are attending on the consumers’ days, too.”
Acknowledging that once meetings and networking has taken place, the majority of dealers would have little time to spare, he added: “I suppose that the typical dealer has a lot to fit into a tight schedule. With meetings, travelling and networking taken into account, I imagine that there’s little time to whip round the stands and talk business with current and prospective contacts.”
Stands were of course rammed with customers for the majority of the trade day, so in that respect the show was a triumph. By no means is the demand for a second day unanimous – many attendees held the belief that it would be possible to fit a hectic schedule into one day, but “only if the industry invests in improving its communications training”.
Post-show, one of the first threads to appear on the BikeBiz.com forum discussed the difficulty in accessing exhibiting personnel. But was this due to stands being busy?
Gary Lee Cooper of Zone Cycle Centre in Nottingham described a “complacency” among a portion of exhibitors who ought to pro-actively seek to keep people on their stands. He spoke to BikeBiz shortly after the show and said: “To maximise the value for money aspect of having a stand, personally I would ensure staff are trained to be able to politely acknowledge those waiting to be seen and say ‘I’ll be with you shortly’. With a show as busy as Cycle it’s not always possible to see everyone on your list, but it should be the exhibitors looking to drive conversations. I often find it’s the reverse.”
Although appreciative of the volumes crowding some stands, Cooper added: “There was one particularly important stand that I visited three times and was unable to catch an opportunity to speak with a rep. We took along four staff on the trade day to make sure we had everything covered, too.”
As suggested previously by respected industry speaker Jay Townley, the bicycle trade could benefit from taking advice from outside the industry. Forum comments suggest that Npower, although sticking to a basic sales routine, were actively approaching potential customers – and, as a result, securing sales.
Hannah Piercy from Npower told BikeBiz: “Our staff are all directly employed and many have been on-board for several years, so they’re fairly used to meeting and greeting customers. However, we do put them through intensive training to ensure that there are no confidence issues. There’s no use in a shy salesperson! Cycle is great value for money for us and our pro-active approach certainly secures customers. It’s highly likely we’ll be there again next year.”
VIEWS FROM THE BIKEBIZ FORUM...
“After hearing ‘Company X’ was trying to recruit dealers at the show, I hung around on the stand for a while looking at bikes. But no one was in a hurry to speak to me.”
“I found the stands to be either very helpful and structured in the way they talked to you, or just plain crap. I ended up putting my badge on, which I hate doing, but it didn’t make much of a difference. I remember working for a supplier and always looking out for anyone who looked like they needed assistance. Me and the missus walked off a few stands as we weren’t even acknowledged.”
“It is a problem in the bike trade – it’s full of nerds with no social skills.”
“Some of the stands were very unimpressive. If you’re going to go to the cost of renting the space, you really ought to invest some money in your displays.”
“The NPower lot were professionals. What they were doing was their day job; it’s what they were trained to do and what they are good at, which is why they do the job.”