It's nearly nine months until the 2011 edition of Interbike but I find myself in Las Vegas, for the first time this month no less. No one should actually go to Las Vegas to begin with, so I’m certainly not here for fun. I’m here as a reporter to cover another trade show.
Early January means the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It’s an event that remains among the world’s biggest trade shows and for most attendees the biggest headache of the year – at least we get it out of the way early.
Having attended many a trade show around the world, it's safe to say they all sort of blur together after a while – and not a long while, at that. There's the usual registration process, followed by waves of new products as well as cocktail receptions on the show floor, as well as endless seminars and generally too much to do and too little time to sleep.
That said, the Sands Convention Center, which serves as Interbike’s current home, looks very different in January. The crowd is different – older, dressed in suits and a tad more jaded about the future. The show is loud, big and frankly a bit too much. Anyone who can’t believe the cost of high-end bikes should check out the high-end home audio, where just speaker cables can set you back a few thousand dollars.
While the crowd is different, the name of the game is the same. Size may matter when it comes to buying a bike, but it matters too when buying a TV. And in yet another parallel to our industry, they also become surprisingly thinner and lighter. According to the show’s producers, innovation is what will save the American economy. Isn’t technology grand?
While CES will continue on at full speed in the even larger Las Vegas Convention Center (now I really wish I had a bike as the buildings are two miles apart and the bus line can be an hour long), the Sands is taken over by another show that helps Vegas sell out yearly (of hotel rooms; the city sold out long ago). This is AVN, as in Adult Video News.
That’s right, the same halls that will be filled in September with the latest and greatest bike gear are now filled with porn stars and “adult” focused products. AVN is – at least in this reporter’s humble opinion – the least sexy thing you’re ever likely to see. Let’s hope they bring in a truckload of bleach after the silicone-enhanced products leave town – and we’re talking about AVN, not CES.
It's hard not to think about Interbike while at some of these other shows. While the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which is the biggest video game trade event in North America, happily remains in Los Angeles not Vegas, it has a Vegas feel. The attendees are similar as well. Lots of tattoos, everyone is wearing shorts and there's a constant smell in the air – at least at Interbike I know it's because people rode a bike in the desert heat, not just because they haven’t showered in days.
All that said, am I thinking too fondly of Interbike because I’m writing as I attend other shows? Perhaps, but it's also because I wear the aforementioned shorts and ride a bike at Interbike – whereas at CES I’m usually wearing a suit and riding buses. Maybe the other thing is that Interbike comes at the end of the trade show season, which means I’ve made it through another year.
January is filled with CES, the Detroit Auto Show and SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) – yes I get to shoot guns - before February’s North American International Toy Fair in New York (talk about cold, and yes I get to play with the new toys). I’m not really complaining; it's fun to see the newest stuff, first, but I just wish I'd brought my bike to ride.