Ausbike is now in it’s fourth year and is still in the process of defining itself. Two significant changes this year have helped it become a more important show for exhibitors, retailers and cycling consumer; the timing of the show and the location.
I spoke with the show organiser Simon Head about Ausbike. He was relaxed and had a smile on his face, while we spoke were no mini-emergencies or issues he had to tend to, I got the feeling that all was well.
Ausbike is the bike show that Australia needs, when the Bicycling Australia Bike Shows stopped there was a gap – as time passed it became harder and harder to setup a big show because winning the support of the industry takes time. By moving the show back, after Eurobike and Interbike, wholesalers can return to Australian and present the next seasons gear.
“You can’t run a bike show in September because of the AFL finals and NRL final” notes Simon Head. “We responded to our exhibitors and if they want the show on at this time of the year so that they can get their [new] product, then that what we do.”
The new location has been welcomed by exhibitors and visitors alike. “We have been able to make the move from the showgrounds which doesn’t attract people to the royal exhibition building which is a magnificent expo and suits the bike industry.” says Mr Head “It’s light and airy situation in beautiful parklands in central Melbourne. All of the exhibitors are very excited that we are here and we have just signed on for the next three years.
“They have allowed us to do a lot more next year, in particular a demo track upstairs [in the 2nd level observation level that circles and overlooks the hall].”
Based on the exhibitor list on the Ausbike website, I was expecting a few brands to be exhibiting that were however not at the show (as exhibitors) and asked Simon Head about this.
“It is not as if we don’t invite them. Trek bikes don’t do shows, they don’t even do Eurobike or Interbike, they do Trek World. Giant was listed as an exhibitor and you will notice that they have bikes on some of the stands. Giant had other commitments.”
Simon Head continues “There are probably about 20 top companies, mainstream big companies. If we can get ten of those each year we are really happy. From the trade perspective, most retailers have stitched up their number one big brand so they come to look at niche markets, second brands, parts and accessories. The show started for the small to medium wholesaler who cannot afford a fleet of reps driving around the country. The shops come to look for things they haven’t seen before. Certain products in certain years have just excelled because they have been the product of the show, people who don’t have them, they miss out.”
There was a healthy mix of products, both SRAM and Shimano were well represented along with top brands such as BMC, Focus, Felt, Fuji, Specialized, Jamis, Rocky Mountain, Cervélo and Zipp. The stands for these big name brands were big with lots of gear on display.
Simon Head discusses the stands and response from exhibitors, “One of the biggest things we have notice this year is the amount of effort and resources people have put into their stands, it is really noticeable. And the amount of work that exhibitors have put into getting trade here such as with show only deals for the trade. I know that some of the exhibitiors did very well [getting orders on the trade day]. Like all of the trade shows, you only need one really good retailer who you don’t deal with to come to your stand and it can make an amazing difference for the whole year.”
Ausbike Show Organiser Simon Head
The trade visitors day was also conveniently placed on the Friday followed by General Public days on Saturday and Sunday. Even with the improved schedule it remains tough to encourage interstate retailers to visitor Melbourne for the show: retailers already get regular visitors in their stores from brand reps and bigger brands often have roadshows in each state to present the next season gear.
The trade day this year was particularly cold, an open door out to a test-ride area put some exhibitors in this area on the test, many returning of Saturday rugged up and prepared though warmer weather made it more bearable.
As expected, on the friday with entry restricted to trade visitors, the visitor numbers were low though many of the stands remained busy. On Saturday a long waiting line out the front was welcome news for exhibitors now looking to present their products to the public. It was a busy day and I asked Simon Head whether he was happy with the attendance.
“Yes very, we charge $5 [concession] and $10 [adults] on the door, it is not about making money on the door tickets, it is about getting a good crowd in. I am happy if the exhibitors are happy, and the exhibitors are happy.”
I spoke with exhibitors and received a lot of good reports, for smaller brands exhibiting and trying to get into stores, some confided that they were able to connect with retailers who were interested in taking them on board. As expected, visitor numbers on Sunday were down on Saturdays numbers.
I was expecting a well-executed show, assuming that the organisers were able to build on their experiences since first launching in 2009 and wasn’t let down. I hope to see growth and more big wholesalers and brands committing to the show next so that it really is “the place to be”.
This also makes it more attractive to the general public and retail visitors, including interstate visitors who can then justify the time and expense to come to Melbourne. This however shouldn’t be at the cost of loosing younger brands and entrepreneurs. Though the exhibition was well planned and spacious, it was also booked out so brings the challenge of how to use the available space to cater for more exhibitors.
Photo Highlights from Ausbike