Interbike, the national bicycle trade show that begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, will allow consumers into the business-to-business show for the first time on Friday — but only under certain conditions.
In past years, Interbike was the exclusive domain for exhibitors, retailers and industry officials looking to scout and order bike products showcased by hundreds of companies in the $6 billion-a-year industry. The problem was exhibitors gave free credentials to their pals, which meant hundreds of nonindustry people who were not interested in ordering bicycle goods sauntered down aisles gobbling up swag.
But this year, Interbike organizers are unveiling an “Interbike by Invitation” program, which allows registered retail bike shops to invite their most loyal customers to the final show day at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
For a $50 per consumer fee, retail shop owners can give their best patrons access to Interbike when Friday’s doors open at 9 a.m. The deal includes a free subscription to Bicycling magazine and a swag bag. The last day’s hours will also be extended from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We needed to involve the retailers,” said Pat Hus, Interbike managing director. “We want to make sure their highest quality customers got to see the latest and greatest.”
There are also two other ways to walk the Interbike floor on Friday.
Participants who sign up for Saturday’s Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo bicycle ride will also be permitted to enter Interbike on Friday. For $20, Viva Bike Vegas riders can enter at 11 a.m.
And if you buy a $10 CrossVegas bike race ticket to watch that event, just bring your ticket stub and pay $25 and you, too, can get into Interbike’s final day at 11 a.m.
“There has been a lot of discussion about letting in the consumer,” Hus said. “There was momentum to add this day, to add a consumer day … We’ll learn a lot this year and build upon it for next year.”
But there’s a hitch to Friday’s show: Purchases will not be allowed at exhibitor booths and security will be beefed up to prohibit consumers from leaving the show with any products. In past years, it was not unusual for some exhibitors to sell products on the afternoon of the final day.
Interbike expects 800 companies representing 1,200 brands to attract 25,000 people to the three-day show, which begins Wednesday.
The show also has changed venues, leaving the Sands Convention Center after a dozen years in favor of Mandalay Bay.
While Interbike serves as a national gathering for the U.S. bicycle industry, some notable companies will not be exhibiting.
The biggest missing brand is powerhouse Trek Bicycle Corp., of Waterloo, WI, the country’s biggest bike maker. Trek has its own annual bike show for its dealers.
“Trek does a phenomenal event. It works for them. We get it. We hope one day they will come back” to Interbike, Hus said.
Giant, another well-known bicycle maker, returns to Interbike after missing it for three years, he said.
Contact Alan Snel at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @bicyclemansnel on Twitter.