Q&A: Mike Webster President, Trade Show Division, Marketplace Events
What better time to check in with the American International Motorcycle Expo than in the weeks following the final February Indy show. Indy’s next run won’t be until September 2014. In the meantime, Mike Webster, president of the Trade Show Division of Marketplace Events, producer of AIMExpo, has been busy with his team signing up exhibitors at an impressive rate. Word at Indy was dealers are also becoming more and more intrigued by the Oct. 16-20, 2013, timeframe and location in Orlando. That might have had something to do with the fact that AIMExpo announced that Yamaha would be unveiling its 2014 motorcycle lineup at the inaugural event, and Erik Buell Racing will be holding its dealer meeting during AIMExpo as well. Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon checked in with Webster for an update on AIMExpo.
How did the Yamaha and EBR announcements affect interest in AIMExpo?
The announcements about Yamaha and EBR most definitely created a frenzy of activity from aftermarket manufacturers, distributors and service providers that have been waiting for the announcement of the first major OEM to sign up for the inaugural AIMExpo. The further good news is that we have a commitment from an additional major OEM and expect to announce within the next two or three weeks. We also anticipate additional OEMs will be announced by March 31. Needless to say, all of these developments will continue to fuel the fire of participation in the inaugural AIMExpo this October.
Did you see a rise in booth sales late in the month of February?
Most definitely. Interest in AIMExpo overall is at an all-time high; especially following what, by all accounts, appears to be a disappointing performance of the Indy show. That fact, combined with AIMExpo’s singular ability to promote 2014 goods and services, has placed us high on the radar screen for powersports companies. Our phones have been extremely busy and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future.
What type of feedback did you get from dealers and vendors at Indy?
The feedback that we have heard and continue to receive daily via phone conversations and personal visits provides unwavering reinforcement of what we learned starting 2½ years ago when we first began aggressively researching all segments of the powersports market. The input gained by listening to the needs of hundreds of companies who are vested in the motorcycle and powersports industry ultimately led to our vision for AIMExpo. Disappointment and dissatisfaction are terms that we have heard and are continuing to hear daily about their experience at Indy. It is quite clear the industry wants and needs change. We represent that change and via AIMExpo, the entire industry will finally come together in one place at one time for an unparalleled celebration of motorcycling, the motorcycling lifestyle and the business of motorcycling. One very telling fact is that online dealer preregistrations on the AIMExpoUSA.com website jumped significantly following Indy.
How confident do you feel that you can deliver in Year 1?
It is our full intention to deliver on the AIMExpo vision, which is to serve as the catalyst to bring together industry, press, dealers and consumers in a single arena that creates a grand stage for motorcycling and powersports in the U.S. and North America, and deliver an efficient and energetic market-timed expo platform for B2B and B2C in the motorcycle industry. From the very start we have actively listened to the market, and we will continue doing so. Using ongoing input we will make adjustments along the way as necessary to ensure a successful event that will benefit the industry-at-large. So stay tuned, we’ve got some exciting announcements just around the corner, and are looking forward to sharing them with you and the rest of the industry!