Thursday, December 27, 2012

AIME, Dealer Expo, and the show to go to in 2013

So this is a follow up to yesterdays post regarding the 2013 shows.

Seems more people read the MRP blog than I realize because on a slow news day word goes out quickly. 

The big question for small importers, distributors, and dealers is which show to go to in 2013?
Most shops can only afford one or the other. The past few years despite what SEMA, DealerExpo, or anyone else claims fewer "real" buyers went to these shows most buyers attend the open house shows because of all the freebies.

I already stated avoid SEMA if you're a small Powersports Dealership. 
The return on investment as a small shop is negative on that one, it's great as a fan and if you're in the Automotive sector, but they just use motorcycle and scooter distributors for extra cash, there is little or no effort whatsoever on their part to really bring that crowd in. I have about 100 emails worth of exchanges between committees, organizers, and the people at SEMA who never got their act together since the last time we exhibited there. All in essence a reflection of the chaos that engulfed the Powersports Industry in 2008-2011. 

Now 2013 is upon us. I get calls from dealers asking which show they should attend and I give them the same answer. I have no idea. I don't even know. Obviously as an industry person I will attend the shows, but as an exhibitor where is the ROI? The only main exhibitor is Tucker at Dealer Expo since Parts Unlimited pulled out, it might as well be called the Indianapolis Tucker Show / Chinese Expo. This isn't exactly what you want in a show and Dealer Expo despite several emails from the new guy in charge last year hasn't followed up with me on what changes they were going to make. 

No update on the EV test rides, no update on the Scoot Magazine talk I suggested, no update on helping bring a consortium of scooter companies. Nothing. I gave Kerry Graeber a full half hour of suggestions and there was no follow up to my knowledge. They love the low end Chinese scooter exhibitors because they don't ask for anything, but if you want to build a real sense of community you need to motivate people to go back after ten years of dwindling returns on Indianapolis.

There is a real chance here for either Advanstar to make a real effort and show they actually listened or AIME to step up and show they are a player. Both have kind of stopped pushing at this point. You can't just have a scooter roundtable in 2010 make some traction have people exhibited about doing it again and cancel it the next. Then in 2011 not even co-ordinate with the US top scooter dealers, the top editors, or even the top scooter guys in the country.

For 2012 Dealer Expo was going to have actual EV test rides and then cancelled it last minute. How do you actually bring media attention to the show if you drop everything that made it interesting for the scooter people. Having Chinese OEMs there doesn't make it interesting I can go to Canton or Taitra for that. We are down to the wire for Dealer Expo and Advanstar just completely forgot about all the stuff they called me on February 2012 to discuss wanting to know how to make the show better, and why I thought the 2012 show was such a failure. To this day they haven't called Josh Rogers @Scoot to hire him, or any of the other techs I suggested to teach the basic repair classes for new stores and new entrepreneurs looking to open a shop.

Both sets of show promoters are showing an incredible lack of urgency and a basic failure to communicate! These smaller importers were their most lucrative segment the past few years and Dealer Expo has dropped the ball on them year on year. Advanstar did announce they will be skipping the fall 2013 show they previously announced and postponing the 2014 show until October so there will be a 19 month gap between Dealer Expos, which might be enough of a window of opportunity for AIME to get their promotion together. Being the AIME is in Orlando Florida home of a fast growing scooter scene this would be the ideal location to invite year round riders, exhibitors, and scooter professionals. 

Months ago I emailed them the names and contacts for the top scooter mechanics, custom shops, the editors of Scoot Magazine Josh and April etc... none have been contacted by AIME. It's easy to look at the big names and figure they have money and will bring dealers, but Kawasaki already had their Orlando Dealer meeting last year and so did Suzuki so you would have to move mountains to have them exhibit there and back out of the International Motorcycle Shows. Same goes for Honda or Yamaha.

So what is the incentive here for the smaller guys to spend money?

If anything AIME has the advantage here being the new guys in town. They need to make the sure more like INTERMOT which was a success this year. 

Part of that was the EV industry and becoming the main launching point for new Scooters outside of Italy.

Include the Electric Vehicle industry. Test rides. Even if its not making money it brings media attention and so does the scooter scene. Amerivespa brings out the newspapers and local media so why not help organize a Vespa ride to Disney or a classic big exhibit in the middle of the show. Many of these things don't really make any money, but they do bring out a sense of community and attract more attendees. They also bring out exhibitors because there are over 30 Chinese Scooter importers left and only a handful of big motorcycle brands. So you need the scooter guys to fill the hall so it doesn't look like Dealer Expo 2012 again.

Food for thought.

I hope in the next 30 days one of these groups steps up to the plate. Scoot Magazine, the top former techs for Piaggio, Genuine, Yamaha all these scooter guys are available to teach classes and help organize there's a lot of good talent out there. You still have time to make something special happen.

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