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Reactions and thoughts on Eurobike Portland

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 31st, 2006 at 1:26 pm

"I know that the point may be to shut down Interbike, but let's be realistic, it isn't going to happen in a year or two or even five. What happens in the mean time?"
--Donna Tocci
Kryptonite

Reactions to yesterday's big news that Eurobike boss (and Hood River resident) Erich Reiss plans to launch a major US bike industry trade show in Portland this September (which I'll call "Eurobike Portland" until an official name surfaces) has quickly spread around the bike biz and the web.

As I've talked to people involved (still waiting to hear from Reiss) and read reports on blogs and bike news outlets, reactions have ranged from shock, surprise, confusion, excitement and concern.

If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, just consider the size of Interbike (currently the major US bike industry trade show) and Eurobike. Not that Eurobike Portland would be nearly this size 11 months from now, but just for perspective...

According to the Eurobike website, this year's show drew 31,810 trade visitors from around the world, 19,684 cycling fans on Open House Day, and 1064 journalists from 32 countries. Interbike on the other hand drew 22,000 people which included individual exhibitors, manufacturers, buyers and members of the media.

The Man Behind the Show

[Erich Reiss of
Eurobike]

Erich Reiss is the force behind Eurobike's success. I've yet to meet him and I don't know much about him, but apparently he's a very smart and capable businessman and he comes with solid credentials. According to industry veteran Michael Nover (formerly head of Mountain Cycle),

"Reiss is the head of what I consider the best trade show in the world. He's definitely not just some guy with a big idea...he is responsible for making Eurobike a world class event."

It certainly bodes well for Eurobike Portland that Reiss will be the man calling the shots.

The Location

Obviously the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) doesn't even compare with the Sands Expo Center/Venetian Hotel gargantu-plex where Interbike currently resides, but that's OK for now.

According the the Portland Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the OCC has about has about 250,000 square feet of space for the show. Compare that with Interbike, which uses 750,000 square feet. And don't even ask about the disparity in hotel rooms (OK, the Venetian/Sands alone has 4,000 rooms, as much as all of downtown Portland combined).

So for the first year or so, the OCC should be fine, but if Eurobike Portland is to ever reach its full size and potential, a new location would have to be built or found.

Also, don't forget that Reiss lives in Hood River, just minutes from epic off-road trails which would be perfect for mountain bike demos (now, if he could reserve a sunny day that'd be great).

The Date
The exact date has not yet been confirmed, but according to Bike Europe, Messe Friedrichshafen (the group behind Eurobike) has said it will happen sometime, "between mid and end of September.” That would put it smack-dab at the height of show season, which prompted Kryptonite's Donna Tocci to write this over at Bicycle Marketing Watch:

"Do you do four shows? That's a strain on personnel, not to mention finances...you can only be in so many places at once and only be away from home so long before you get miserable and aren't that good at your job."

The upside of an end of September show is that the weather is usually fantastic in Portland that time of year. I just hope Reiss doesn't pick Cycle Oregon weekend; now that would be a difficult choice.

The Politics
I'm still amazed at how this huge announcement was leaked to the media before I heard anyone talking about it. In fact, at a big meeting of Portland's bike industry task force a few weeks ago, the Portland Oregon Visitor's Association (POVA) had three reps in the room and none of them said a word about it.

The news about this show has also caused Don Walker of the popular North American Handmade Bicycle Show to abruptly shelve his plans to bring that show to Portland. This seems like a big downer for the PDC and Commissioner Sam who were working hard to get that show. So not only did they lose NAHBS, but it seems like they didn't even know much about the Eurobike plans until yesterday (I think POVA has been the main player thus far).

It makes sense that Reiss worked solely with POVA on this (if indeed that's what happened). He's a shrewd businessman with serious backing, so he doesn't have any reason to look for handouts and concessions from the PDC or City Hall.

The huge upside for the PDC is that this show will put Portland on the map around the world as a great place to not only live and ride, but to do bike business as well.

Will the public be invited?
Interbike is an industry-only show, no general public allowed. However, Eurobike and other European trade shows typically have a "Public Day" that is open to consumers. I hope Reiss brings this feature to the Portland show, but I have yet to hear a confirmation either way.

Ramifications for Interbike

This is immense news for Interbike. They've been dealing with grumbling from the Industry over the Vegas location for a long time. This news will force them to respond in some fashion. Whether that means making changes to their format or looking for another location remains to be seen.

Fortunately Interbike has a blog (started in no small part because of this post I made on a bicycle industry blog back in April '05) so they were ready to respond right away:

"...if Eurobike believes that they can help our industry continue to grow cycling as a more visible and important activity in our marketplace by launching a competing show at about the same time as Interbike, then we welcome them to the family. If nothing else, the competition will help us to be even better at what we do. However, the dividing effect it could have on our industry is a concern. We believe that having an annual gathering of the industry community where we can all get together is important."

I plan to follow this story as closely as I can so tuned for more developments.

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Comments
  • IB Rich October 31, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Interesting time to be a Portland cycling blogger, huh Jonathan?
    I'll let you take the credit for getting us to start blogging. Thank you, by the way.
    Keep us posted on developments form Portland ;)

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  • Aaron October 31, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    While taking the Portland Development Comission course at PSU, there was a hot discussion about trade show space in Portland. Many people are concerned by the fact that our largest convention centers are tiny compared to other cities, and our available hotel space is miniscule.
    Of course in order for us to house a 700,000 sq. ft trade show, we would need to pave over a lot twice the size of a large Walmart.
    It's very unlikely that such a space would be friendly to bike/ped/transit and it would only be used a few times per year. I would be interested in what the bike community thinks of this issue.

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  • Don Walker October 31, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    I posted a reply under this link.

    DW

    http://bikeportland.org/2006/10/31/eurobike-portland-means-no-nahbs/

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  • dayaram October 31, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    perhaps all this flap is a "plot " by the PDC to get more funds flowing for their so far stalled hotel near the Convention Center. See Jack Bogs Blog for details. Sounds great for PDX though in terms of more cycling visibility!!!

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  • gpickle October 31, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    Having once attended Interbike when it was in California in the mid nineties as well as CABDA (Chicago Area Bicycle Dealers Assoc) several times in the mid nineties I feel that the industry trade show system could use a shake up. CABDA was not nearly as big as Interbike but it was close to home, well attended and fun. I agree that it is good to have a single show that is the "must attend" for industry folk to get together and talk about chamois creams and labor prices in Indonesia and such but I would welcome a return of more "regional" shows as well. Maybe Eurobike USA could pursue a series of smaller shows in 3 locations or so and Interbike could continue to have their show. As to the NAHBS loss, Don Walker seems a bit rash and I think Portland should aggresively pursue him and get his show to come to town. To me his show and Eurobike or Interbike are apples and oranges and with a bit of time to reflect he will realize that he does not need to take his show to the East. I could talk to him if you think it would help.

    gpickle

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  • [...] Bike Portland’s Jonathan Maus is someone who will be at the center of a “Eurobike Portland”. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, just consider the size of Interbike (currently the major US bike industry trade show) and Eurobike. Not that Eurobike Portland would be nearly this size 11 months from now, but just for perspective… [...]

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  • Jo Routens November 1, 2006 at 8:18 am

    I'd go to both shows; I'm a professional mechanic and a hobbyist framebuilder and think that Don (NAHBS) is selling himself and his show short. The trade show would be an excellent alternative to Vegas, and the handbuilt show, which would attract a different audience, would also be wonderful to have here. Having either show here would be good, both would be better! Please reconsider, Don.

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  • RC November 1, 2006 at 10:13 am

    Putting effort into expanding Portland’s convention and hotel facilities would be way better than wasting time with something else of limited use - such as a baseball park.
    Maybe this will be the catalyst for some positive direction in that regard.

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  • David Rowe November 1, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    As a Portlander, I, too, was disappointed by Don Walker's decision to pull the plug on a 2008 NAHBS here. I spoke with Don about his decision this morning, and he is quite clear about his rationale. Some of his reasons he stated here: http://bikeportland.org/2006/10/31/eurobike-portland-means-no-nahbs/.

    Others, as you might expect, are not appropriately published, and have to do with business strategy and the economics of producing a show of this caliber.

    Don's main concern is sustaining a viable consumer show where craftspeople can reach the rider market directly. Every decision that he makes is founded on that vision and his entrepreneurial drive to make it a reality.

    No matter where he winds up siting NAHBS, we can expect it to be well worth the expense of getting there. For riders, it is like being in a bike store where anything is possible.

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  • t-rex November 1, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I can understand Don's reasoning, no one wants to be in the shadow of tradeshow behemouth... but it seems to me that the two shows could easily co-exist. Isn't the NAHBS show a big shopping trip for the best purchase ever, a custom ride? Where as shows like Interbike and EuroPortland are for retailers and industry folk to go place their orders for the next season? Of course there is some cross-over in those groups, but ultimately, wouldn't they be catering to different buyers?

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  • john November 1, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    the Expo center ? 60 acre campus, 330,000 square feet. http://www.expocenter.org/

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  • Cate November 2, 2006 at 10:53 am

    From roadbikerider.com "The bike industry is buzzing over news that North America's major trade show, Interbike, apparently will have competition next September. The organizer of an even larger show, Eurobike, has announced plans for a U.S. edition in Portland, Oregon. One reason: Portland is a much more bicycle-friendly city than Las Vegas, site of Interbike in recent years. Unlike Interbike, Eurobike welcomes consumers on one of its days. It hasn't been announced if that popular feature would be part of a Portland show, but we'd bet on it."

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