In addition to increased floor space, Indianapolis offered an easy-to-negotiate downtown — hotels, restaurants and bars all within easy reach of the convention halls. It had all the benefits of Cincy but provided a much larger venue. And the show filled up; by 2000 Dealer Expo had grown so large that it was spreading into a couple of the adjacent hotels. Consideration once again was given to move the show to yet another location.
Only a few other locations (including Indianapolis) were large enough to accommodate Dealer Expo. All others were ultimately rejected, perhaps because dates were not available, or venues were too expensive for exhibitors, or hotel rates were too expensive for dealers. Plus, Dealer Expo had to be within driving distance of a large swath of the U.S. dealer population.
Fortunately, Indianapolis expanded its convention space and added downtown hotels and other venues. Indy’s infrastructure continues to improve with more hotels and dining options. And it’s worth noting that a majority of the nation’s motorcycle retailers are within driving distance (or a short flight) of Indianapolis.
THE NEW BENEFITS
This final February show also will see another change — the co-location of the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows which adds Indianapolis to its nationwide tour. This not only provides dealers with the ability to visit with their OEs in Indy, but it gives the industry (and the dealers) an opportunity to gauge initial consumer interest in the new aftermarket offerings when the public is granted limited access to Dealer Expo for four hours on Sunday afternoon.
I think both the 2014 date change, and the (limited) consumer access are welcomed changes, and will be of significant benefit to both dealers and vendors.
I remember when OE dealer meetings were held in December and January. We had two dirtbike releases, one in the fall and another in the early spring. Streetbikes made their debut in time for Daytona. No more! These days most OEs release product year ‘round and typically hold their meetings in the early fall. Moving Dealer Expo to a fall timeframe will probably put a little more pressure on some vendors who supply model-specific accessories, but for the majority it shouldn’t be a problem.
For dealers, it should be great. If you’re driving, the weather in September 2014 won’t be an issue — in fact, it should be downright pleasant! It also will give you more lead time to analyze new and existing products to determine which ones suit the needs of your clientele — and then be inventoried by the time the 2014 holiday season begins.
The new format and dates seem to me to be positive things and more reason to attend Dealer Expo in the future. As Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change: To be perfect is to change often."
This story originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Dealernews.