Visitor numbers at this year’s Interbike have yet to be “cleaned” but the show director believes the total will be about 21 000, a little less than the 22 000 last year. With the bigger US companies scaling back spend on their booths, thanks in part to summer house shows, it could be time for a change of both venue and date.

Las Vegas until 2005; Denver in 2006?

Interbike has a contract with the Sands Exposition Centre through 2005. After that, Lance Camisasca, the show director believes the new Denver expo centre – double the size of the existing centre, opening next year – could be a good venue for Interbike.

Flights to Denver are not as cheap as those to Las Vegas but the city’s environs are bike-friendly and there are plenty of good ride areas suitable for Outdoor Demo days. The try-out days at Interbike are getting more popular. Last year 4000 industry folk attended the one day demo at Blue Diamond. 5000 were expected at this year’s two day demo at Bootleg Canyon. In fact, 6000 turned up.

The Outdoor Demo part of Interbike is now one of the show’s key selling points, believes Camisasca:

“The road shows in the summer offer the first opportunity to see new product, but Interbike is the place to firm up orders and ride the bikes you weren’t able to ride at the road shows.”

With Interbike no longer being a launch show, it’s harder for the bigger suppliers to justify huge, expensive booths. Most of the big hitters had pruned back expo spend this year. It was a bike show, but relatively light on bikes. Specialized had a booth many times smaller than in previous years, and the other larger bike companies were also similarly conservative with their booth budgets. (Cannondale was back on the expo floor having previously been hidden away in an invite-only room).

Conservatism is a trait advised by Interbike. VNU Expositions, the owner of the show, runs expo seminars for exhibitors, demonstrating how costs can be cut without losing impact. US expo centres are heavily unionised. You can’t move anything, install extras, without paying through the nose for it. VNU advises exhibitors to use fabric backdrops, not MDF dislays: it cuts down on rigging costs.

Last year VNU polled the US bike industry, asking where the majority of companies wanted to exhibit. A return to Anaheim was ruled out (although there’s an all-new expo centre there now) and Las Vegas was given the thumbs up. Denver, though, is now on the industry’s radar. A date change could also be on the cards, a move that would be welcomed by many. Dragging a Denver show back into September would make Interbike a product launch show again. Eurobike Friedrichshafen is currently the place to go to see all the latest product from the bluechip bike brands.

If the show was to move, there would be a question mark over attendance. Currently 25 percent of show visitors are from California (”drive in visitors” in show parlance). There are more West Coast IBDs than East Coast ones. Denver could be a drive too far for Californians, but with the meteoric success of the Outdoor Demo perhaps a show in Colarado – a core MTB playground – would boost attendance, not dent it.

The new $268m Colorado Convention Center will have 584 000 sq. ft. of exhibit space when the building is finished in January 2004.

The Colorado Convention Center will be 15th largest in the US. Thanks to 1100 rooms at a new Hyatt hotel, linked to the convention centre but still to be built, there will be a total of 6400 upscale rooms within walking distance of the halls and 36 000 total rooms in Denver as a whole.

Next year’s Interbike will run October 6-8th, with the Outdoor Demo days (if there are to be two days, which is likely) being 4th and 5th.

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