Here, in full, is Bennett's letter to Bikebiz.co.uk:
The current debate regarding the cycle shows scheduled for 2002 that is currently taking place on the bikebiz website requires some input from myself, as Exhibition Director of Cycle 2002, because of the critical inferences, contained in the articles, of both the show itself and the motives of the BDC in organising it.
It all smacks of organisers jockeying for position, not to mention striving to gain the high moral ground at the expense of others – in spite of their protestations to the contrary. In particular I would like to deal with the following points:
a). That only Associations affiliated to the cycle industry should be entrusted to organise a cycle show because “we believe that any profits made on cycle shows should be re-invested in the promotion of cycling.”
b). “shows run by outside commercial interests divert funds away from the industry that could otherwise be used for cycle promotion."
We, at The Business Design Centre, organisers of Cycle 2002, resent these inferences of profiteering at the industry’s expense and of not “promoting cycling” on a number of counts.
The BDC has committed an enormous amount of its own funds to staging an event which will promote cycling generically to an audience, both at the show itself and in terms of the general media exposure it will generate, that has only been surpassed by televised cycling events such as the Tour of Britain, City Centre Cycling, World Cup Races and, hopefully, The Commonwealth Games later this year. Having worked on most of these events I can testify to the impact they have on stimulating the interest of a wider public. That so few of these are still taking place in this country is a tragedy for cycling in general.
I would like to know of any “generic cycling promotion” that is planned in 2002 by other Exhibition organisers using “the profits” generated by the shows they own that will reach anywhere near the scope of the audience that Cycle 2002 will impact on.
One of the major objectives of Cycle 2002 is to present the cycle industry, in all its varied forms, in the most attractive fashion with a view to generating positive exposure and interest from a much wider audience than is catered for by the bicycle titles. We have already committed substantial budgets to that end and our promotional activity is not dependent on “profits”. The cycle industry will gain all the benefits associated with this activity even if there are no profits generated from the exhibition.
To suggest that independent commercial organisations like the BDC should be prevented from, or are incapable of, staging a cycle exhibition because their agenda and motives do not fit with that of any particular industry will not stand up to the slightest scrutiny.
Industries benefit from having professional exhibition organisers take on this role because they bring to the party a thorough knowledge of this particular form of marketing and an entrepreneurial flair that enhances the product. Furthermore they take all the financial risk without jeopardising the funds of industry organisations.
Cycle 2002 will be a success because the organisers at the BDC appreciate that they are in business to serve both the needs of the individual exhibitors and the industry in general – and that these objectives are interdependent.
Cycle 2002 will be the biggest shop window for the cycling industry for years. Companies and organisations who claim to have the positive promotion of the industry at heart, rather than pursuing vested interests, should look to embrace the exhibition for what it is, rather than try to undermine it with spurious claims and inferences that cannot be substantiated in the face of any rational analysis.
For a list of exhibitors see http://www.cycleshow.co.uk which has just gone live