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A traffic jam worth welcoming – January 22, 2007

Almost halfway through its season, the International Motorcycle Shows (IMS) are reporting increased attendance with many of its historically well-attended shows still to come.
Through its first six events, the 13-stop IMS has seen an attendance increase of 5 percent with more than 220,000 people having walked the floor in Phoenix, Houston, Seattle, Fort Worth, Texas, and Long Beach, Calif., IMS Director Jeff D’Entremont told Powersports Business.
The attendance increase is especially good news as the IMS moved one of its early venues this year. The Dallas show was relocated to nearby Fort Worth and was held on a different date after last year’s event conflicted with a NASCAR race, which was held at nearby Texas Motor Speedway.
Even with the time and location changes, show organizers reported a 12-percent increase in attendance for the Fort Worth event.
“Anytime you move an event from city to city it always takes a bit of decline (in attendance) in the first year,” said D’Entremont, noting the event was held in Dallas for six consecutive years before this year’s change. “So we were really surprised and pleased with that event.”
Not only has attendance increased, but so has the exhibitor base. Each event is taking up on average 40,000 more square feet than last year, D’Entremont said.
The shows also have several new showcases this year, including a large ATV presence, a sports bike spin-off of a custom bike contest, and a Hall of Fame motocross exhibit, the latter of which has proved especially popular.
The exhibit, which recreates parts of the American Motorcyclist Association Museum, includes 24 motorcycles from the 1960s to present day as well as a wall of champions.
“That area has really proven to be a big hit with the attendees,” D’Entremont said of the motocross exhibit, noting “it’s helping us drive home that we’re not just a street event, that we do cover all the genres.”
IMS officials last year launched a custom bike show that provided a People’s Choice award for motorcycles brought in by local builders. “That has really taken off this year,” D’Entremont said, noting the event is drawing “upwards of 20-plus units in every market.”
Besides drawing in the custom bike crowd, the IMS also has worked at bringing in off-road enthusiasts. For the first time, IMS are showcasing a number of ATV models. Besides bringing in new units, which has caused some logistical headaches at times, the IMS also added nearly 20 ATV-related companies, both aftermarket and manufacturers.
As a result, nearly 20 percent of the IMS crowd is now ATV enthusiasts, D’Entremont said. It’s a number the IMS would like to grow in the future.
IMS officials also would like to see product debuts grow in the future. Traditionally, the show has tried to have prominent product debuts on each coast. This year, the West Coast show in Long Beach, Calif., included five world debuts and eight North American debuts, including Yamaha’s V-Max concept and Ducati’s Tricolore 1098.
“It’s tough to compete with a Milan or a Cologne because of their scale,” D’Entremont said of IMS’ effort to increase its number of world debuts. “But the manufacturers also are seeing that with the size and scope of the International Motorcycle Shows and the PR that we can get around it” leads to successful debuts.
In fact, D’Entremont noted the IMS has “some pretty cool stuff ready” for the New York show, which was scheduled for Jan. 19-21.
While OEM involvement has increased at this year’s shows, dealer involvement has improved in some markets, but struggled in others. D’Entremont said the latter has been the case at times in markets where the IMS is relatively new, including in Phoenix and Houston.
“If you’re a multiline dealer who has an ability to sell accessories, you have a good opportunity to move product” at the shows, D’Entremont said, noting new vehicles are not sold on the floor but dealers often see a spike in new unit sales in the following weeks.
“Where else can you get on average 45,000 people in a weekend?” D’Entremont said. “And even if you saw only 20 percent (of the crowd), that is still 9,000 bodies.” psb

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