By Jeffrey Stern
More than a handful of years in the making and landing not a year too soon for an industry looking for a spark, Pat Haus of Emerald Expositions, the parent company of Interbike, made the big announcement earlier this summer that after nearly two decades based in Sin City Las Vegas, the show would roll on in the Reno-Tahoe area for 2018. It’s a change that the industry has been yearning for for the last few years.
Back in the mid-80s, Interbike was actually held in Reno at the end of October and in moving back to the area, Haus and his staff are recognizing the importance of a larger outdoor playground in lieu of the ritz of the Strip, as the key to positive change for the annual event that brings together nearly the entire industry from around the globe.
With a small-town feel and featuring some schedule changes, including a consumer festival the weekend before at the Northstar ski resort, the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and supporting venues have signed on to play home to Interbike through 2022.
Realizing the need to for the trade show to be more than just a product launching pad and finding a greater desire for increased educational opportunities, that hands on feel, to draw new consumers to the sport is an integral part of the move as well. For most industry leaders, adding elements that increase the experiential piece is critical in moving forward and finding sustainable growth in a struggling industry.
There is no doubt that the greater Lake Tahoe region provides an absolutely stunning backdrop for Interbike moving forward. A much different look than what Las Vegas has offered over the years.
Another benefit is the proximity of Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area, only a short three hour drive away. Somewhat of a mecca for all types of cycling, from road cycling down Highway 1 to the mountain bike trails of Camp Tamarancho and Mount Tamalpais, there are a plethora of outdoor/cycling brands, both large and small, that could play off the relocation to a closer destination.
More events leading up to and following directly after Interbike could lead to great participation and further develop that education element that so many companies are looking to implement. I can already see a group of die hards planning a ride to and from Interbike and starting from somewhere like the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Fairfax, California. Imagine the involvement non-industry players, the community and enthusiasts alike will bring to the table. The content opportunities around events like big rides are endless and exactly what many brands are searching for – telling authentic stories about places and people using their gear. It’s a marketers dream.
With organizations like the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) located across the Bay Area and leading the charge for the cycling’s largest growing age group, the philanthropic partnerships are bound to be available as well.
Beyond that, food, beverage and hotel options are less expensive than Las Vegas for attendees, flights to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport are on the upswing and the weather is typically quite a bit cooler than the middle of the desert at the end of summer. Three-time tour de France champion Greg LeMond even grew up in Reno, so there must be something in the water.
What’s not to like about the Interbike move from Vegas to the “Biggest Little City in the World” Reno? With four years to sample the differences, I’m sure it won’t be the perfect solution, but with a need for change, the Sierra Nevada high mountain air will surely be refreshing and full of new growth opportunities for the industry as a whole.