We sat down with Ingo Riedeberger, Project Manager for INTERMOT. Ingo is essentially the head of show and all that goes on inside the Koelnmesse center biannually in early October.
MPN: From a U.S. perspective, many in the industry previously viewed INTERMOT as a European market show. Do you think that perception has changed?
IR: First of all, it’s probably been your perception that INTERMOT has not been an international show, but indeed it has been. We usually have visitors from around 100 countries, which really shows that it is global. It seems we have had a breakthrough in the number of premieres being shown. At the press conferences, during Press Day, we saw around 40 new models unveiled. I believe this really puts INTERMOT in a leading role internationally.
MPN: With the Press Day being such a success, how do you feel the Trade Day performed?
IR: We decided to launched a trade-only day in 2014 since we realized that it can be difficult for the international and domestic companies to do business, and for the exhibitors to distinguish between a trade visitor and someone who wants to place an order vs. an enthusiast who wants to know the details of a specific product or model. Exhibitors really appreciated when we introduced a trade-only day. It has been a big success from the beginning. I think the day we had yesterday underscored this. It was very well received and the booths were jam packed. Exhibitors couldn’t move from their booth because they had so many meetings. As of today, however, we will have a nice mix of trade visitors and consumers. During the weekend, of course, there will be more and more consumers.
MPN: Do you use any different types of badges to distinguish buyers from the general public, especially during the public days?
IR: We work it a little differently in that we designate those specific days for media, trade and public. We have designated business only areas of the show (Dealer’s Lounge). Many industry people register online for a badge so they can go through like a consumer. This made it difficult in some respects, which is why we have the trade-only day.
MPN: You have always held INTERMOT every other year. Do you think that will ever change?
IR: Nothing is carved in stone. So once the market tells us there’s more need for an annual show, and we see there’s a need to do one, we definitely have the capacity to produce an annual show at Koelnmesse. But for now the industry tells us that a biannual schedule for Cologne and a biannual schedule for other leading shows would be ideal. That way there is only one place to show the new products per year instead of multiple places. I think the number of products that we have seen during the Press Day clearly shows that INTERMOT is the leading event. And there would be no more need for any other international shows except for, of course, other national shows for the domestic markets.
MPN: Where do you see INTERMOT growing in 2018-2020?
IR: I can see two things: the one is that the motorcycle market in Europe and Germany is regaining strength. We are starting to see more young people buying bikes, so that is giving a new new lift to the motorcycle market. Also there is a different type of customer looking for motorcycles, so the manufacturers have had to adapt these needs to their products. Another new thing that we see will continue to grow is INTERMOT Customized. It’s a new “show-within-a-show” event. That is a very strong development in the market. We have seen it growing in Europe, and we know it has been big in the U.S. for a long time, but it’s no longer that special interest group or segment it used to be. It’s standing on a much broader stage and gaining interest from a much larger base of motorcycle enthusiasts as well as parts and accessory companies. Two years ago we staged the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, with builders and a few parts and accessory manufacturers. And now we have an entire hall dedicated to custom. There are 100 exhibitors with about 400-500 bikes. Someone told me that it was the nicest and most valuable collection of custom bikes that he’s seen in a long time.
MPN: It looks like an OEM hall. OEMs have the money to put together very highend booths, but the custom section looks up to par with these manufacturers.
IR: They not only show the products, but they also show the heart and soul of the builders. It really plays off what these builders create. But it’s not only for builders, you see parts manufacturers participating, and now even some OEMs are joining the scene. They are building bikes and showing how their bikes can be reimagined as a custom machine.
MPN: One of the things with motorcyclists in general is that most of them want to customize their ride in some way. Motorcycles represent the rider’s personality in some ways. And bike builders are creating art. They’re rolling art, right?
IR: Customizing these days really reflects a lifestyle. You can see that in the riders not only by what they ride but what they wear. It goes all the way to the beards and the tattoos. It’s the scene that these people want to associate themselves with. And that is what we are representing with INTERMOT Customized. It’s not only bikes, it’s clothing and accessories. So obviously we see a lot of potential for growth in this area.
IR: I would like to stress the B2B side of INTERMOT, especially the parts, helmets and apparel companies who like the show because of its business building aspects. Exhibitors have repeatedly given us positive feedback on the amount of business they conduct here. It shows that with the VIP Program for importers and distributors (or on their own through invitation), and the 55,000 to 60,000 trade visitors, there are a number of ways to do business at this show. Most trade visitors don’t come here to sit on bikes but to buy products for their businesses back home.
MPN: It’s a chance for these global companies to really get together and present as one company instead of having multiple divisions and headquarters who may handle a specific region.
IR: That is exactly what happens. Companies don’t come here to serve just the German market, they come with an entire international team to handle all of the markets.
MPN: Sounds like INTERMOT has covered it all from the outdoors for consumers to the dealers and distributors on Trade Day to the media on Press Day. Thank you Ingo for taking the time to speak with us, and good luck with the rest of your show!