The intent of the co-location of the Health & Fitness Business Expo with the Interbike show in Las Vegas seemed to have rung true: Buyer and attendee numbers more than doubled, exhibitors said they liked the energy exuding from the sprawling Interbike show down the hall, and a few retailers took a gander down each other’s aisles.
“The cross-over was a success,” show director Andy Tompkins told SNEWS on the last day. “We merged two like-minded groups.”
Perceptions aside, preliminary numbers from the Sept. 22-23 show attained by SNEWS back up the assertion of success. On the first day of the two-day Health & Fitness Business show, 704 stores were represented, or just about four times the year-ago total from both days of 171 stores. Those stores brought 1,626 buyers or nearly five times the two-day total of 322 in 2009. This year’s numbers even surpassed 2008 show numbers of 325 stores and 640 buyers.
“That’s a pretty impressive jump,” said show marketing director Richard Kelly.
For those who were at the Sands Expo venue in Las Vegas, the HFB hall gate-keepers were vigilant in scanning badges as attendees walked in and out. Normally, the show does not scan all attendees as they enter and exit the hall, but Kelly said it was vital with the combined venue to keep tabs on who went in which doors. All scanned badges were then picked through and duplicates were tossed — SNEWS may have accounted for about 20 a day or so! That’s why only first day and not final totals were available since “deduping” was still in process. In the weeks to come, Kelly said, the show will review store names and find out how many bike retailers wandered the HFB aisles.
Even cautious exhibitors — some feeling a bit burned after the dreary 2009 event — came back, with numbers hitting about 70 companies (about 100 brands), just barely eking past the 2009 number of 65. Relative to that gain too was the slight increase in show size from 22,600 square feet to just over 23,000 — even demanding the Nielsen Expositions show management to expand the floor just weeks ago to accommodate requests.
“There’s a lot of pent-up enthusiasm,” said Brian Davidson, fitness division manager for Diamondback. “Everybody needs to be cautious, but they want to be ready.”
Said Louis Stack, founder of FitterFirst, “It’s been really busy. This (co-location) has been really good for the industry.”
Although many fitness retailers didn’t seem to venture to the sprawling Interbike side (about 300,000 square feet and 1,100 brands among 750 exhibitors), they still indicated they liked what the co-location did for fitness.
“Overall, the show had good energy even though it was still small,” said Jimi Bowman, buyer for FitCorp of Texas. “I think the move to Interbike was good.”
We know of at least one fitness buyer who did make it to the bike side — where among other freebies you could get realistic-looking gashes and bruises painted on at the Ryders sunglass booth. (See photo, right, of Greg Feeder, AtHome Fitness co-founder, looking mean with his personalized cheek gash.)
The question raised by many on both sides of the aisle was whether the two shows could actually sit on one floor together to encourage more flow back and forth.
Bowman agreed: “I think combining the halls may have been better… Who knows?”
Tompkins did tell SNEWS that option was being considered for Anaheim.
“These markets aren’t that dissimilar,” Tompkins added. “They both serve audiences that are interested in participating in activities indoors and outdoors.”
As announced in mid-September, both shows are moving to Anaheim, Calif., in 2011 and the dates are shifting to early August. Click here to see that Sept. 18 SNEWS story.
In the next days look for additional show reports. Meanwhile, check out SNEWS TV (www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/snewstv) for live reports during the shows as well as trend and product reports in the next few weeks.