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Is a Change of Scenery Really Necessary?

Larry Little and Mike Webster (pictured) started AIMExpo in Orlando in 2013. Now moving into it’s fifth year, the show will take place near the end of September in Columbus, OH. The show will move again in 2018 to Las Vegas.

As we all know, Dealer Expo had a long lingering death. It was like watching a beloved pet decline, finally unable to get out of its own bed. The last time I went to Indy, it was very sad. I was finished seeing everything I needed to see, and had talked to everyone I had gone to talk to by Friday afternoon.

In previous years of the Indy show, it usually took me well into Sunday to do so. It was indeed very sad. I swore I would never go back. I never bothered going to Chicago when they moved there.

Then, confirming rumors I’d been hearing, AIMExpo was announced! And it was in October! It was also in Orlando! Hallelujah! Here we were; a new show in a great place at the best time of the year to get away from the shop, and see the new products well before they needed to be ordered for the next season. Motorcycle season was basically over, and winter not quite here. And I wouldn’t have to tell my wife that I would be missing yet another Valentine’s Day.

The Orlando show was wonderful. The weather was perfect, with not one flight delay because of ice or wind. Flights were more direct. And I saw a lot of new products. There were companies there that I had never talked to before. I talked to a lot of suppliers about accessories for the shop. Several OEMs were using the show to reveal exciting new products. I heard all about the new Orlando Ace Café.

I could walk to the show without gloves and a heavy jacket. There were lots of great restaurants nearby; enough that it would be several years before I would have to go to the same ones over and over. To me, this was heaven.

Then I find out that the 2017 AIMExpo is going to be held in Columbus, Ohio. In September. I was told it was moved there because more of the dealers and manufacturers were able to get there easier and quicker. I’m sure Columbus is a nice city. I’m sure Columbus is a nice city in the fall. I’m sure that the Columbus Convention Center is wonderful.

I’m really trying hard to not be the “Negative Nelly” in all of this, but I know that in my shop we are still quite busy in September, and I may not be able to get to the show because there’s too much going on at the store. And flights are not direct, either.

I really want AIMExpo to thrive and grow. Really. But this latest move has me concerned. Can a convention thrive when it’s moved around like this? I am crossing my fingers.

But wait; there’s more! I also have heard that AIMExpo will move to Las Vegas for 2018. Isn’t this far from all of the dealers that were close to Columbus? Isn’t Las Vegas further away from them than Orlando is? I realize that Vegas is an exciting city, but, over the last two decades, I’ve been there an average of twice a year, mostly for business meetings and dealer shows.

I’m not an expert on tradeshows, I only know how I feel about the whole matter; I was always unhappy about certain aspects of the Indy show – mostly the timing and the location. But AIMExpo got it right in Orlando, and I’m always one to not mess with success. Did Orlando work as a location? Was it the right time? As far as I’m concerned, it was.

We’ll see how it goes over the next few years. Then we’ll talk again.

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