In the US, intimate and exclusive events like PressCamp and DealerCamp are making some in the industry question whether the 'one big show' model is right for bikes.
Last week, while at PressCamp in Deer Valley, Utah, I reported that Scott Montgomery, general manager of Scott USA, said events like PressCamp for journalists and DealerCamp for bike shops - both organised by Lifeboat Events – were more in keeping with the ethos of the bike trade than Interbike in Las Vegas.
PressCamp and DealerCamp were "more pure" than Interbike, said Montgomery: "I'd rather see my money going to events that reflect our industry, not pissed away in a town with strippers."
Montgomery's views are echoed by many others in the industry, albeit not always quite so colourfully. Many of the brand managers present at PressCamp – who also exhibit at Interbike – privately expressed their agreement with Montgomery. Some even said they'd have to pull out of the 2011 Interbike if it moved to early August.
"That would conflict with Eurobike," said one brand manager. "And we'd be worried about the desert heat at the OutdoorDemo. It's just about bearable in Fall, in Summer it will be lethal. If Interbike moved to early August we'd be forced to withdraw and we wouldn't be the only company."
With his press and dealer events, Lance Camasisca, founder of Lifeboat Events and former event manager for Interbike, is making companies re-evaluate how they demo their new products.
At PressCamp, exhibitors get unhurried, two and a half day access to top journalists. And not just from the bike trade. PressCamp is hot on 'non-endemic media', mags and newspapers which can generate mainstream editorial content.
For CatEye's Ellen Hall, this is a major advantage: "It is important to continually branch out and connect with potential consumers who may not already be familiar with CatEye products. Next year I'd prefer more non endemic editors participating to maximise our participation efforts, and less 'preaching to the choir' with the publications and editors we already know and work with."
PressCamp attracts journalists from Outside magazine, USA Today, PopularScience and others. [The pic above shows Outside's John Bradley with Scott's Adrian Montgomery].
Race Face marketing director Julian Coffey said the one-on-one access to mainstream media was key:
“That was very important. It was one of the main draws for us."
The Canadian manufacturer is planning on doing less events like Interbike and spending more time and effort on localised events, said Coffey.
Camasisca agreed that the mainstream media journos had pulling power, but plugged the bike-specific press, too:
"The non-endemic publications and websites are a huge hit with the manufacturers. Having said that, the vertical pubs and websites are the main stay. If I had to lean one way or the other for 2011 I would likely opt to fill in the editor list with a couple more strong non-endemics to match the great vertical pubs and websites we hope will return in 2011."
PressCamp is all about column inches, a point rammed home by Scott Montgomery: "It was a very effective week, we are seeing a ton of internet press and have already had dealers calling to see when they can order new 2011 bikes because consumers are clamouring.
"I really liked having more competitors and high quality editors there. In the end we need good competition as it brings more excitement and thus more value for all of us as suppliers."
The media present at PressCamp also liked the format. David Bernstein of the FredCast podcast said:
"[PressCamp] was flawless in its execution and unparalleled in its casual elegance. The product info and access to manufacturers was more than I could have imagined."
Exhibitors paid anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 to attend the event, depending on company size and the number of employees attending.
DealerCamp, the event for bike shops, takes place in the same upscale resort later this month.
The Deer Valley resort was a huge hit for editors and exhibitors at PressCamp.
"As much as I hate to admit it – because I love Sun Valley, my home town (venue for last year's PressCamp) – Park City and Deer Valley were very convenient. The fact that the lift and condos and restaurant were all so close was great. The food at Deer Valley is off the charts, I think I gained 3lbs there."
Get out your diet diary, Scott, the dates for next year's event have already been set: PressCamp 2011 will take place June 20-24th, in Deer Valley again.
DealerCamp, new for this year, is based on the same intimacy and great rides idea as PressCamp. From booked-in exhibitors and IBDs it's already successful but the 2011 event could be even bigger, said Camasisca.
"As it looks today, from the limited information about the date changes we have from the Interbike team, we will preceed Interbike with a bigger and better understood DealerCamp 2011. Our event will be more intimate than Interbike, in a far better location, greener, in a recognized cycling community, have no third party vendors reaching into the pockets of the industry and will be more targeted and effective by its design to introduce 2012 products.
"In 2011 we see a huge potential to help facilitate the industry's national and international sales meetings just prior to our event. This year there are already two companies, representing eight brands, having pre-DealerCamp national sales meetings in Deer Valley.
"We believe we could have one of the top US bike brands book-ending our event with their private dealer meeting. Nothing guaranteed, but highly possible. All of this could create a 'bike week' in 2011. Imagine, several key national sales meetings, potentially a private dealer meeting, all culminating at a larger and better DealerCamp? We have a lot of confidence in our new event next month and for years to come.
"We are meeting the demands of the industry, plain and simple. DealerCamp will likely be much more than it is presently. Deer Valley/Park City is ready to serve the bike industry and will welcome us with open arms."
Interbike was contacted about the move to early August but has yet to respond.