After attending industry shows since 1980, I consider myself something of an old hand at doing the tradeshow shuffle. Trust me, after three full days of hiking through our industry’s largest dealer-only event in Indy, you will have the same barking dogs and glassy-eyed stare even if this is your first trip to the mecca of the motorcycle industry. To help you pre-shop the Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo, we have provided our annual Indy preview (Colleen’s comprehensive run-down starts on page 75).
It is twisted, but I still get excited about shows, especially Indy. You think I would eventually learn my lesson, but the chance to see the latest widgets and just soak up the powersport’s industry vibe still gets my motor running.
I started sneaking into various off-road events and press conferences in high school, and by college I was actually a credentialed member of the media (talk about a shallow talent pool!). In previous magazine gigs I have covered beverage industry trade events as editor of All About Beer as if that could be called work; the SEMA show in the automotive industry back in my VW and 4WD days; the SHOT show for the gun industry as a contributing editor to American Survival Guide; the IMTEC show in the marine industry while on staff at TrailerBoats; and even the porn industry show, courtesy of friends in low places.
On the motorcycle side, I have been to more dealer meetings than most dealers I know, and probably twice as many warehouse shows and national sales presentations from the big distributors. In my 13+ years with Advanstar, I worked the old Distributor Expo before it was scuttled and the Dealer Expo from the inside, in addition to now attending as an exhibitor (Motorcycle Product News will be in Booth 1121). Here at my "new" gig, I have even been the presenter for the MotoBusiness Expo.
I have been to the Bologna Motor Show a few times; international races like the Geneva Supercross and the old Fastcross in Italy; the original Cologne show; the NEC event in the U.K.; INTERMOT when it was launched in Munich; etc. Basically, I have been there, done that and have the photos to prove it when it comes to trade events.
Given this backdrop, I was still stunned and surprised by the 2006 EICMA show in Milan (see page 52). No surprise that the grandaddy of all motorcycle shows still retained its capo tutti capo status when it comes to drawing a crowd. More than 530,000 folks from around the world flooded the show halls, in spite of the show date becoming annual (and moving back into November after most of the other international shows). However it was a bit of a surprise to see a full house for the panel discussion on doing business in the U.S. that I sat on … those misguided folks actually paid money to see me blabber! Fortunately, Vince Marazita our moderator (and EICMA’s U.S. rep) and MIC president Tim Buche were able to save the day.
No, the real shock came on my last night in Milan when I was hustled off to a reception at a ritzy five-star hotel after working the show all day. My Italian is nonexistent, but I could tell EICMA promoter Costantino Ruggiero was talking about me for some reason. Seems that he remembered when I invited him to attend a Top 100 dealers award program a few years ago during his first trip to the Dealer Expo in Indy. All the people gathered in this ballroom in Milan were representatives of the best dealerships from each of the regions in Italy! Dottore Ruggiero was returning the invitation from years earlier by letting me crash the first Italian "Top Dealer" party.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I am certainly flattered to see the concept go international. I was even more impressed by the level of professionalism of the Italian dealers. I just can’t wait to see the U.S. winners in Indy!
I was knocked off my feet to see the very first Gran Premio dei Concessionari presentation in Milan, Italy. Fortunately for the top dealers in Italy, the trophy girls presented the awards after they hustled me off stage.