It wasn't just Gary Fisher and BicycleDesign's James Thomas giving the thumbs up to Interbike: most folks at the trade show, which finished yesterday, left happier than they thought they would.
There had been pre-show fears that attendance would drop by ten percent or more but, as it happened, overall attendance was almost the same as last year, at 22,500+.
Total store numbers increased, to just over 4,000, due to attendance from more shops from outside the bicycle industry, including outdoor, adventure travel, and winter sports stores. Total buyer numbers were also up, to just over 11,300, with 1,300 from overseas.
Away from the statistics, there was little sense of doom and gloom on the show floor. Optimism was running high (always a difficult emotion to measure, of course) and booths looked busy throughout the duration of the show.
Major omissions from this year's indoor part of the show included Trek and Giant.
Cervelo was also missing, although the Canadian company hosted an after-show party in the same hotel complex as the Sands Expo Center, a fact that rankled with Interbike marketing director Rich Kelly. He asked at the door for access to the party but his request was twice denied. On his twitter page he said this refusal was "lame."
However, on a positive note, Kelly twittered that 'Interbike' was one of Yahoo's top ten search terms for some of this week. "That's awesome," he wrote to his 3200 followers.
Much of this web success was due to an explosion in online social media mentions for the show. Interbike makes a concerted effort to encourage non-traditional media at its show, including blogs, podcasters and twitter fiends.
New for this year – and made to be embedded on third-party websites as well as broadcast live at the show and over the internet – was Interbike TV, a link-up with Universal Sports and Inside Cycling TV. Video interviews were conducted by Interbike staffers and David Bernstein, voice of The Fredcast podcast.
Bernstein was also one of the organisers of a 'tweetup' at Interbike. 177 bike trade Twitter users attended the meet-and-greet party, and a charity raffle raised $1600.
Mentions of Interbike on Twitter.com were many and varied during - and after - show hours. There were also a proliferation of as-live photos shot from the show floor and hosted on Twitpic.com and other social media photography websites.
Back in the real world, real business was done.
On the final day, Blackbottoms Cyclewear president Jay Elgren said: "I think we did more business yesterday than all three days last year." (Perhaps not coincidentally, Blackbottoms has worked hard at following folks on Twitter to build up followers of its own, and now has 24,685 followers).
Blair Clark, Senior Vice President at Smith Optics, said:
"I was really pleased with this year’s traffic and the number of new dealers we have been able to meet with. I wish that we had brought a bigger presence."
Smith Optics, Blue Competition Cycles, Gore Cycle Wear, Pedro's, Camelbak, Scott USA, Delta 7 and some other companies were earlier attendees at PressCamp, an exclusive US show for editors held for the first time in June. All PressCamp exhibitors exhibiting at Interbike reported higher than usual interest in their booths at Interbike, putting this down to PressCamp and the widespread media coverage that followed.
The success of the 2009 Interbike will quieten those who were readying to push for a change in location for the show. Had there been a significant drop in attendance, there would have been calls for the show to up sticks from Sin City.
Last year, Interbike polled show attendees and industry organisations and found Las Vegas remained the favoured host city because of its breadth of lodging, restaurants and guaranteed good weather for the increasingly important two-day Outdoor Demo, run prior to the three-day indoor portion of the show.
In 2008, Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, said:
“While no one city is a completely perfect fit for the show, we are confident that Las Vegas continues to be the city of choice for the majority of our members. In addition to what shop owners and managers say to us and what they put in a survey, retailers’ loudest vote has been with their feet by attending the show.”
Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, said last year: “After so many years in Las Vegas, the simple idea of a new host city is appealing, but the data shows that retailers and suppliers still prefer this city for a variety of good reasons. Thus, we support the decision to stay for the next few years.”
OutDoor Demo, Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, NV
September 20 & 21, 2010
Interbike Expo, Sand Expo and Convention Center
September 22-24, 2010