Sea Otter Europe in Spain is a growing bike and mobility festival, adapted from its US counterpart. CEO Albert Balcells talks BikeBiz through the concept
This piece first appeared in the July edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Can you give us a little background on Sea Otter Europe?
Sea Otter Europe began its history in 2017. We previously spent some time talking to the people in charge of Sea Otter Classic, the great cycling festival in the United States, with the idea of bringing that success story to Europe. We had our reservations about how the European market would accept the idea of transferring such a great success story as Sea Otter Classic in the United States, which has been a global benchmark for many years. Actually, it was better than expected and the market acceptance was far beyond what we thought. It was clear that the European cycling sector was long overdue for such a festival and this was demonstrated by its rapid growth and consolidation. Obviously, Covid-19 hit us hard, but we overcame it thanks to the great effort made by everyone, as was the case in so many other sectors and aspects of life, and all this has made us even stronger, as we can see from the current figures. We are happy with the progress, but we still have a long way to go.
What area of the market do you target?
Sea Otter Europe was born in the image of the Sea Otter Classic in the United States. With the idea of bringing that successful idea to Europe, Sea Otter Europe has already established itself as one of the three largest international cycling festivals in Europe. The franchise is completed by Sea Otter Canada and Sea Otter Australia. All European markets, brands, companies, professionals, visitors and fans are our main target.
What makes your event unique?
Sea Otter Europe’s success is based on a number of key factors:
- A festival open to everyone, visitors and amateurs, professionals and brands, event participants;
- A very large Expo area with the presence of more than 400 brands and the latest products of the next season;
- Demobikes to test more than 500 bicycles of more than 40 brands of all types, with more than 3,000 tests;
- Extensive sports programme with all kinds of sporting events for amateurs and top professionals;
- An infinite number of parallel activities for all audiences: live music, entertainment, restaurant and relaxation areas;
- Girona as a venue, is one of the favourite and most renowned places in Europe for cycling in all its forms;
- An exceptional and privileged climate for cycling all year round;
- Easy access from across the continent by air, rail and road.
What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
These comments are in line with the success and acceptance we have had during these first years. The industry had long been looking for new formats of festivals and fairs, more open to the public, with more participation and with a stronger connection between brand/exhibitor/visitor. In general, brands are very happy with the format, the organisation and the participation and dissemination of the event. More and more brands are present at Sea Otter Europe, others are expanding their exhibition space, taking advantage of the festival to make global presentations of new products. The fact that the parent companies of the brands are present, and not only the distributors, indicates the value they place on the event on an international level. The loyalty and growth we see year on year is our best indication of the brands’ satisfaction with Sea Otter Europe.
What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?
For this 2023 edition, we continue to consolidate and grow in terms of space and activities for Sea Otter Europe. Additionally, one of the major novelties for 2023 is the independent consolidation of the Euro Mobility Festival in its second edition. The great festival of urban sustainable mobility, which for the first time will have its own identity and character, its own space, specific urban test, other test circuits and specific access to the Euro Mobility Festival space. It will continue to share a space and dates with Sea Otter Europe, but now as a completely separate festival that is set to grow in the coming years, as it is a mobility segment with great potential and totally complementary to cycling itself.