New motorcycle show set for 2013 launch

Little, Webster bring industry experience to 2013 event

Marketplace Events has big ambitions for 2013 — the home and garden show producer plans to launch a trade and consumer motorcycle show emulated after Italy’s EICMA and Germany’s INTERMOT.

But the company isn’t flying blind into the motorcycle world. Larry Little, Motorcycle Industry Council Chairman of the Board and former Cycle World publisher, was recently hired as Marketplace Events’ vice president and general manager of the motorcycle group. Marketplace Events VP Mike Webster joined the company about four years ago after a long tenure with Dealer Expo-producer Advanstar.

Little was brought into the motorcycle show project about a year ago, when Webster asked Little, who was working as a self-employed marketing contractor, to research the motorcycle market’s missing link.

“People were looking for something. They were looking for another alternative over here in the U.S. market,” Little said, adding that over his year of research, he learned what was working in the industry and what needs weren’t being addressed.

Using Little’s findings, Little and Webster drafted a show proposal that was soon approved by Marketplace Events. Little was excited to work on such a project because he had been hoping a larger-scale motorcycle show would be launched in the U.S. market sooner rather than later. Two decades ago, he returned from one of the international shows disappointed that such a large trade and consumer event wasn’t happening at home.

“It’s not rocket science,” Little said. “If it’s something successful, and no one’s doing it on your home turf, why not emulate it?”

Larry Little, shown during the launch announcement for the American International Motorcycle Expo, plans to draw on market needs and his extensive industry experience to make the venture a success.

Marketplace Homes announced in January that its American International Motorcycle Expo (AIME) is scheduled for the fall of 2013, though dates and times have yet to be revealed. The event is expected to feature two days of a trade and press show, followed by three days of a consumer show. Eventually, Little hopes OEMs will also hold their dealer meetings in the days before the opening of the trade portion of the show.

With the fall schedule, Little also hopes OEMs will unveil never-before-seen models at AIME, and aftermarket companies will reveal their latest products while dealers are considering spring orders.

“A lot of the dealers’ yearly budgets go to spending on their spring and summer lines in the fall. By the time they get to Indy, their money’s been spent,” he said.

Little has already talked to one OEM that was frustrated because in the past, it had interest in unveiling a model in the U.S., but had no avenue to do so.

“The concept for the show and the decision to run this show was based on what the market needs are, and those needs aren’t being met,” Little said.

He added that despite his addition to the staff and Webster’s experience in producing shows, they won’t have sole influence over AIME.

“I think the show will be shaped more by what the market needs are, not just what one particular person wants it to be,” he explained.

The goal is to draw most of the motorcycle industry, including manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, consumers and others, to one place at one time.

“It’s the four Es: energize the market, get customers excited, find a more effective way for the industry to do business and a more efficient way to do what already exists,” he said, “and I think this show, we have all that already.”

AIME postponed hosting its first show until 2013, so as to not have to compete for attention with this fall’s presidential election and also to give itself enough time to host a quality event. Little hopes that with the right preparation, the show will quickly become a must-attend for the industry.

“We want the first show to be a really good show and reflect what the long-range model is, and for it to have a long-range effect on the motorcycle industry in this country,” Little said.

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