Thursday, July 26, 2012

Scooters at SEMA - Dealer Expo 2013 vs AIME 2013

I am really looking forward to the AIME Show. I'm hoping the Orlando show has a space dedicated to scooters. Test rides, industry speakers, and a real place where both electric and gas companies can talk.

So a few months ago I commented on the changes we needed in the Dealer Expo for 2013 to make it relevant again. After a wave of comments online they added a consumer show side to the Expo. Yet some in Powersports World had their doubts.

Its funny, I got a bunch of emails from industry heads after I openly said the Dealer Expo for any small scooter company without seminars and without education classes was a waste for both the exhibitors and dealers.

Back in 2010 I was asked to speak and gave a class that received a lot of positive feedback with Josh Rogers from Scoot! Magazine. It was so popular that SEMA asked us to do the same show for 2011 only to backtrack at the very last minute. SEMA instead went with classes from Motorcycle Product News and its contributors who didnt exactly cover anything related to scooters despite a bunch of Chinese companies compromising the majority of exhibitor space in the Powersports section. Again reality not lining up with what the advertisers, show management, and the magazine would like. The truth is Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki could care less. Last I checked Suzuki and Kawasaki organized their own conventions at the Marriot World Center in Orlando with a company called Hello Florida and it went off a million times better.

Both shows in terms of scooter displays have gone downhill. SEMA is now a place where only the bottom tier Chinese manufacturers will exhibit. No education classes and the ones they had again didn't reflect who was exhibiting. It was a price point exhibit with Chinese brands that have no concept of branding to consumers. So you had a show of mostly car enthusiasts again without consumer financing, without dealer bases, and a bunch of Chinese importers pandering to them. Honestly, without any guidance that is what Dealer Expo 2013 will become. Let me explain now that the Consumer Show and the Dealer Expo are joining forces what is going to happen when consumers walk the floor. Honda display offers consumer financing, dealer networks, warranties that work, but look over here you have the Honda Ruckus clone by Peace or Roketa for one fourth the price. It will be a complete consumer melt down in understanding of what is going on in the marketplace.

I mean seriously who cares about seeing a ZNEN or SUN L or Roketa bike on display, consumers dont go to the show for that. The management at SEMA should probably fire themselves if it wasnt for the fact they outsource everything so they cant. They dont know anything about Chinese scooters much less about educating their consumers or dealers about them. So in that aspect Dealer Expo is about to commit the same mistakes SEMA did if they dont change the ballgame.

Now that Parts Unlimited has bailed on the show it they have to put even more energy into the show.
My suggestion bring back all the ideas that we were looking forward to in 2012.

Seriously there were some great ideas, they were promised, we thought they would implement them. Nothing happened.

The Advanstar Brand Director Kerry Graeber called me right after my blog for Dealer Expo 2012. I gave him my ideas. I haven't heard from him since. Reminded me exactly of the top management at SEMA 2010 and SEMA 2011, nothing could be done. Lots of promises for seminars. "We're gonna have you, the guys from Genuine, Kymco, and Yamaha there and we'll have you ask educators." then they dropped the ball. Sorry.... Im seeing the same approach by Dealer Expo. They didn't like what I pointed out, promised to listen and make some changes. Its been 5 months since top management at Advanstar called.

Mistakes in 2012 they need to make up for:
In 2012 they cancelled the electric test range, the scooter rides, and all the suggestions Josh and I made in 2010 went nowhere. 

So you can't wait until the last minute. Make the changes now. Make a test range. Make a seminar and bring people together.

Have someone point out the reality of electric vehicles. Bring investors, educators, industry professionals to talk about the future of EV scooters and Motorcycles to the show. Dont charge these guys to speak, make them bring their connections and reinvigorate the dying Chinese only export mentality that Dealer Expo has fallen into. Re-energize the brand with renewable talk. Doesn't matter if its real or not, I dont even know if given today's gas prices anyone can make a profit because gas has been going down, but go ahead and invite them anyways. 

Bring back the test zone idea. 

If you're going to have a dealer exhibit section and consumers there then you might as well bring some world class entertainment. Give us a reason to fly to Indianapolis in the winter. I mean we're based in Miami and I would rather stay somewhere warm in February unless Im on vacation.

Its pretty clear the bigger guns in the industry voted with their feet. They need to take some drastic action to bring back the Expo.

Don't take my word for it other industry experts have started to let their opinions be known.

Can Dealer Expo slam the brakes on their downward trend by convincing a reticent powersports aftermarket manufacturing community to reinvest in what has become an auction and Pan-Asian agri-scooter free trade zone?

This week he answered his own questions:

traditional event partners vote with their feet

One thing the troubled world of powersports trade events can’t survive and still maintain a credible industry presence is the abandonment of anchored floor space by major distributors.
The increasingly anemic dealer turnout that’s plagued Expo in recent years takes another hit as the persistent rumor of Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties departing Indy in favor of building their own corporate footprint apparently has legs.

move will affect dealer attendance, manufacturer exhibits

LeMans is expected to announce a budget reallocation that shifts marketing funds from Dealer Expo to expand their own self-hosted Showcase dealer show to include bi-coastal (CA and PA) additions, each with up to 200 vendor slots, in a move that further suppresses aftermarket manufacturer participation in traditional venues.

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