The first edition of the MotoBusiness off-road trade show and conference held Jan. 5-7, 2004, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, turned out to be perhaps more conference than trade show, say participants and show management.
Some 800 attendees from more than 600 dealerships participated in the show and conference, according to Robin Harfiel, publisher and editor of Motorcycle Product News magazine, the show’s promoter. There were more than 60 exhibitors located in about 130 booth spaces, he said.
The MotoBusiness Conference featured more than 45 hours of business seminars, workshops, and roundtable sessions aimed at helping dealers become more profitable retailers.
Sessions included store design, apparel sales, service department profitability, effective publicity, and add-on sales.
An unusual feature of the show is that dealers were required to pay for admission to the expo and seminars. Dealers were charged about $200 for the event, Hartfiel said.
“The conferences went over really well,” Harfiel told Powersports Business. “Dealers paid their own money; they were there (8 am to noon) to get educated.”
Hartfiel said show management would have “been happy” if 100 dealers were interested. “But more than 250 went through the 14 overlapping sessions; (attendance) kept getting bigger as the days went on.”
Somewhat surprising, said Harfiel, was that dealers came from across the country and as far away as Canada.
The fact that some exhibitors showed cruiser accessories and apparel, also was a surprise, Hartfiel said.
Based upon what show management saw from exhibitors, he said, the scope of next year’s show may be expanded to include street products.
EXHIBITORS SEEM TO AGREE
Many exhibitors seemed to find the event useful, said Hartfiel, according to comments collected by show management.
“We didn’t anticipate that everybody would come the first year, but we’re certainly encouraged,” Doug Muellner, national sales manager of FMF Racing in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., told show representatives.
“What we’re hearing from dealers here is that this is a good thing, and a good location. The business training is the initiative for them to come, but then they come into the trade show and realize the potential. It’s a very good concept.”
The opening day keynote speaker was Eric Anderson, businessman, columnist, and moto-enthusiast. Anderson, wearing a suit and tie, told the audience that success in today’s market requires more than enthusiasm, it requires business skills, as well.
“The keynote speech did exactly what it’s meant to do — get everybody riled up and excited about being there,” Jason Merritt, business manager at Hillsboro Motorcycles, a multi-line dealership in Hillsboro, Ore., told show officials.
The 2005 MotoBusiness Expo & Conference is scheduled for January 2005 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The show is produced by Athletic Business Publications of Madison, Wisc., publishers of Motorcycle Product News.