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After two more months of exploration, the management team at the Health & Fitness Business Expo will announce soon that it has decided to co-locate the shrinking fitness event with its huge Interbike expo in late September — in line with its proposal in late October.
The team at Nielsen Business Media that manages HFB also manages Interbike, as well as Action Sports Retailer, making the co-location more efficient and economical. (Click here to see a Oct. 30, 2009, SNEWS® story about the proposal, HFB attendance history and other event options as discussed in an October conference call with exhibitors.)
“We have made the decision that as a stand-alone show it won’t have the support — even as a hotel-based concept,” show director Andy Tompkins told SNEWS. “The best option we have is Interbike.
“We are trying to create a very special area — a stand-alone but still adjacent event,” he added.
The massive Interbike show, held traditionally in Las Vegas, is scheduled this year for Sept. 22-24. Even in a down economy, the 2009 Interbike bucked trade show attendance odds by hitting 22,500 attendees for its second-highest number in the show’s long history. (Click here to see a Sept. 30, 2009, SNEWS story, “Interbike ’09 attendance indicates retailers feeling somewhat better…at least in bikes.”)
The goal is, Tompkins explained, to place the HFB show in a separate ballroom immediately adjacent to the registration area but only a hallway apart from the main Interbike floor. Signage would help attendees find the area they want and, he said the hope is, to flow back and forth between the two areas.
“I believe we’ll be able to give the HFB event there a larger audience,” he said. “A lot of the cycling dealers are also fitness retailers — or they have indicated a high interest in fitness product.”
In addition, the miscellaneous product brands that never seemed to show up or make it at the HFB show — such as hydration accessories, nutrition, electronics and watches — are already at Interbike, he said. That gives the fitness retailers, as well as the other fitness buyers for sporting goods and mass merchants who have attended HFB, more to attract them to the show.
The downside, as acknowledged by the HFB team during its exploration, is the date — about six weeks or so later than the normal fitness timeframe for product launches. Tompkins said that could make the event more about education and showing product than an actual unveiling.
“With the later dates, education and community will be even more important,” Tompkins added. “From a retail perspective, this can be why they come to these events.”
Interbike has a well-developed seminar series for retail education and special industry workshops, in which HFB attendees will be able to participate. In addition, the show will look to add some tracks aimed at fitness-oriented attendees. Go to www.interbike.com to see more about the show.
On the heels of the Oct. 29, 2009, conference call with HFB management and exhibitors, SNEWS launched a short survey. We found that most agreed with the choice. (Click here to see that Nov. 16, 2009, story.)
The question is, will the industry support it? Diamondback, already an exhibitor at Interbike, told SNEWS the company will think about it, but it definitely won’t mix bikes and fitness in one booth.
“What new and different is happening other than being in Vegas with the bike show?” asked Brian Davidson, Diamondback director of global sales. “Based on last year, we’ll want to see something different — and that’s the $64,000 question.”
Patrick McGinnis, president of FreeMotion Fitness, which in the past has opted in for sponsorships and larger booths at HFB, didn’t exhibit at HFB last year. McGinnis said he thought the time of year was actually better since it was closer to the selling season. But, he added, “We won’t go.” He said his company can use the money better in other ways.
For accessory company Spri Products, the co-location is all thumbs-up, said Pat Miles, director of sales.
“We’ve been a long time supporter of HFB and think it’s a good thing that the industry continues to have a showcase event,” Miles said. “The new format means more traffic, and we’ve seen a lot of retailers carrying both fitness and bike lines, so it seems like a good fit.”
Stay tuned to SNEWS for announcements and developments, as well as to the HFB website at www.healthandfitnessbiz.com.
SNEWS® View: The fitness industry is in the midst of great change — change that we believe will continue well into this year. The Health & Fitness Business Expo in the “micro-format” it had shrunk to was simply not viable, so co-locating with Interbike does seem like a good answer to keep some event for the fitness industry alive. Although the timing isn’t great for fitness currently, there has been a trend for other cycling shows in Europe and Asia in the last couple of years to move their dates forward based on supplier demand. Could that mean that Interbike may also be considering such a move? If so (and that would not affect 2010), the date issue could be solved. The lingering issue is the industry and its future. Since the other products that relate to fitness and wellness, such as nutrition and hydration, never seemed to make it at the HFB show, this is a way to bring more of the wellness and fitness lifestyle together — separate but still together.
We don’t deny that the HFB ballroom at Interbike will be small. And that’s OK. But for those who like Vegas (we know some very much do and some very much don’t!) and for those who also like cycling, and for those who want to support the industry’s future path, the HFB event at Interbike could bring together community, education, fun and networking. SNEWS will be there and we hope again to help out in ways that you need.
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