BikeBiz sits down with Marta Torres Ninot, Sea Otter Europe festival coordinator, as the event returns to Girona-Costa Brava
As of three months before the event takes place, how many available places at Sea Otter Europe have been snapped up?
We now have 160 exhibitors and 70% of the expo zone booked up. Many brands made an early decision to take part in the festival, booking as soon as registration opened. Others carried over their booking from last year when the expo zone was cancelled, and some cancelled their participation out of fear but are now set to return more enthusiastically than ever.
Finally, some new brands are joining the event for the first time and we also know of a few that will be making last minute decisions. This year, reservations can be made in a straightforward manner via the new booking platform through which you can purchase and manage your space. It can be accessed through the Sea Otter Europe website and allows you
to select your preferred location and add any services on the spot.
Compared to the 2019 edition, has there been more interest from brands or companies linked to cycling?
We have more brands linked to urban mobility and more electric brands (the sustainable mobility sector is constantly growing). Top brands specialising in bicycles, accessories and components, and services that will be highly interesting for visitors will also be participating once again.
There is also a lot of interest in the bike test riding programme, although some brands are already anticipating stock issues. The fact the Mobile World Congress is going ahead on the weekend of 28th June to 1st July in Barcelona is great news because it indicates a sense of normality and means trade fair events are starting up again (B2B and B2C). We are looking forward to the return of events, especially cycling ones.
How many new brands have signed up so far?
At the moment we have identified a total of 30 new brands. Some exhibitors have yet to complete their profile on the website, so we still don’t have a full list of attending brands, which will be finalised in the coming months. Local administrations, including Girona Provincial Council, the Costa Brava-Girona Tourist Board, Girona City Council and Turisme Catalunya, are still committed to the festival, in addition to the unconditional support of Continental and Canyon as main sponsors.
They go hand in hand with Cetelem, Wear Design and ABUS, who have been firmly committed to the festival from almost the very beginning. In terms of new sponsors, Garmin joins as the technological brand of the festival, together with its brand of Tacx bike trainers, Goufone as the official telecommunications brand of the festival, and Wikiloc as the official mapping brand. Littium by Kaos has also joined as an urban brand by means of the Littium Girona Urban Ride.
How is the bike boom affecting the organisation?
Cycling is undergoing a real upsurge among end consumers and more people are cycling than ever before. The number of people taking up cycling for sporting and health reasons has increased and there has been a real resurgence. We are also seeing cities moving towards a transition towards urban and sustainable mobility.
The standstill brought about by COVID shows how important it is to let the environment breathe. Cycling is the best way to do that and this is having a direct impact on the sector’s growth. Everything related to technology and gaming with online and interactive cycling platforms has also had an upsurge, boosted by restrictions on movement. It’s a great counterpart to traditional cycling and has a long future ahead of it. All this means new exhibitors with more varied backgrounds taking out space in the expo zone.
What reasons for signing up would you give to a brand that has not yet done so?
If you are directly or indirectly involved in the cycling industry, Sea Otter Europe is the festival for you. The festival offers business opportunities and direct contact with final consumers and is the perfect place to continue establishing your brand. It is a meeting point for sector professionals and end users.
Our visitors are keen cyclists and highly committed to the sport. Sea Otter is Europe’s leading event in festival format, held in the city of Girona-Costa Brava, regarded by many as a cycling paradise. We attract 60,000 visitors from over 50 different countries – figures that are on the rise – and 6,500 race participants. We also boast a sporting programme with all the different categories represented (road, mountain bike, gravel, urban e-bike and kids) and the largest bike testing programme in Europe.
To what extent do you expect bike brands to present key new products at the fair?
Sea Otter Europe is an excellent place for a product launch, because it brings together the general public, media outlets and competitors thanks to the festival’s high profile. Moreover, somewhere like Girona-Costa Brava, which has such a long history in terms of cycling and is such an attractive place for visitors, is a perfect place to present a product launch. Brands must seize the moment and try to stand out. Presentations or product launches are a great form of brand activation and in a setting such as Sea Otter Europe, they can be carried out in a very creative way alongside participants.
How will visitors gain access to the festival and what protocols are you working on?
Ticket access (free of charge) is being implemented. Visitors will be able to get tickets via the Sea Otter Europe website. There will be three entrances at the festival and at each one visitors will have to scan the QR code that appears on the ticket. This will serve a double purpose: to control capacity and track visitors in case of a COVID outbreak.
What’s more, it offers us highly-interesting quantitative-qualitative information for post-event analysis. We are still waiting to see if COVID measures will remain in force. It’s looking like we will no longer have to wear masks in September. In any case, for the time being, we will continue with protocol based on capacity control, temperature checks, masks, social distancing and hand washing. The same measures will apply to participants when collecting race bibs, and to exhibitors and media during accreditation.
Are there any new additions to the sports programme that haven’t been announced yet?
The World E-Bike Series, the e-bike world cup, has already been presented as a major new addition for 2021. It will be a double-header, with one competition on the Friday and a second on the Saturday. Another new addition to the sports programme is the Littium Girona Urban Ride. An e-bike ride through the city centre of Girona (in tour format) with a stop for refreshments.
The Canyon E-MTB Experience returns with a new format, more similar to a cycle tour, with a stop at a farmhouse for a hearty breakfast halfway through, and a spectacular route through the forest and along trails typical of the Costa Brava region. The Continental Ciclobrava (the event that won everyone over in 2020), the Girona Gravel Ride (in the gravel discipline), the thrilling Canyon Pirienxus Challenge (also in in the gravel discipline) and the Scott Marathon Cup (part of the UCI Marathon Series circuit) will also be returning for another edition.
The Enduro Sea Otter Europe, a 37-km enduro event that will also be part of the Sea Otter Europe programme, has been added to the programme. It will take place in Riudarenes, just 20 minutes from the festival by car.