Although they met at Interbike and were in the midst of ongoing discussions, the Portland Oregon Visitor’s Association (POVA) did not expect Messe Friedrichshafen’s big announcement to bring a major bicycle trade show to Portland in September of 2007.
In a conversation today with POVA’s VP of Sales, Michael Smith, I learned that the two groups were still in the “qualifying stages”, and that the announcement caught them completely by surprise.
“We were talking with them, trying to determine if Portland would work for them. We thought we were in the early stages. But once we heard the news we were thrilled.”
Smith said POVA didn’t think the Eurobike Portland (not the official name) show would compete with the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), whose director withdrew plans to hold his show in Portland in 2008 after learning of the announcement.
“We’re not bike people here at POVA and we didn’t understand all the implications of the announcement. We have been in contact with Don Walker (director of NAHBS) about his show…we feel it would be a great complement to a larger show. We respect his decision to not come to Portland in 2008, but we’d still like to work with him if possible.”
I have questioned POVA’s handling of the announcement and wondered why they decided to not tell anyone (including Commissioner Sam Adams) about their ongoing discussions with Messe Friedrichshafen at a meeting full of Portland bike industry leaders just days before the announcement.
Smith says he regrets that situation but that they were “sworn to secrecy” by Messe Friedrichshafen,
“We did not share the information at the client’s directive and because of concerns we had about litigation if their intentions were leaked. We didn’t even tell Sam (Adams) who sits on our Board of Directors.”
Smith also said he was very sorry for how the announcement might have affected Jennifer Nolfi’s work as a representative of the PDC to the bike industry,
“We put her (Nolfi) in a bad situation. We’ve apologized to her and have made it clear that we want to be partners with the bike community from here on out.
We have incredible respect for Portland’s bike industry and community. There’s so much passion and energy…I only wish we had the same interest from other industries we work with.”
At this point, according to Smith, Messe Friedrichshafen has still not signed any contracts with the Oregon Convention Center or with any local hotels.
From my perspective, their plans for a show here in September of 2007 seem highly unlikely, although I could see them re-adjusting their schedule and coming here in 2008.
Unfortunately Erich Reiss — Messe Friedrichshafen’s US representative — has still not returned requests for comments so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens…stay tuned.