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Show Stopper!

The MMIC says shows will return in 2022 

The inevitable was put off as long as possible but if wishes were fishes we would all be going to motorcycle shows this winter. Power Sport Services, the show-managing arm of the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council of Canada, announced its winter motorcycle shows in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City have been cancelled for 2021. The pandemic might have been manageable over the summer but as we all headed indoors for the winter the situation has become worse as infections spike across the country. The jostling cheek-to-jowl nature of the popular series of events wasn’t going to fit into anyone’s idea of a safe environment. It wasn’t just MMIC’s call to make: the decision also came down to the willingness of the major distributors represented by MMIC as well as other exhibitors to send people out to the events. Some had staff in lock-down long before the announcement was made. 

The motorcycle shows are a big attraction for riders across the country with total attendance exceeding 200,000 in the good years as motorcyclists shake off the chill, -25C weather in Edmonton and the occasional brushes of snow in Vancouver where a little snow makes a big difference. No matter what was thrown at them in the depths of winter riders would turn up at the venues, stand in line and walk the floor with a bag of mini-donuts in hand dreaming of new bikes and planning purchases. 

The new model year motorcycles were the big attractions crowding booths of the manufacturers but it is the smaller vendors that will likely feel the pressure of the missing 2021 shows. It was always an opportunity to showcase a new product, for dealers to reach new customers and for some to blow out a big selection of discounted jackets, pants, gloves, tires, helmets and various other parts and accessories. Tour operators, authors of motorcycle books, charitable groups, and even motorcycle magazines, found the shows an important outlet for their products and to make contacts. These smaller exhibitors will now have to rely on other outlets for potential customers to find them or, in some cases, stumble upon them. So wish them all luck and seek out the unexpected as well as the obvious.

Power Sport Services has already said the shows will be back and better for 2022 but that too may be a bit of a challenge. Some of the smaller motorcycle manufacturers were in and out of the shows, sometimes relying on local dealers to carry the load but the big guys—Harley-Davidson, BMW,  Honda, Yamaha among others—were perennial attendees for 20-plus years. They will now be able to see what effect not being at the shows has on the bottom line and get a clear idea of the return on the large investment of travelling with displays and personnel for a substantial portion of the first quarter of the year. That knowledge is  going to be front and centre when it comes time to sign the contracts and pack the trucks for the 2022 season. There will be a lot of number crunching and handwringing before the booking deadline. Some of the shows are probably a lock while others might be less so. Toronto might be a question with two large shows within a couple of months. The western shows are very popular but having two in Alberta could also be a question that comes up. Would alternating years work for each city—or picking one to be the host? The Vancouver show clearly illustrates that attendees will come a long way to attend the show with many making trips longer than the time required to drive from Edmonton to Calgary or visa versa.

It all comes down to how 2021 shakes out. The unexpected does happen: for example, I don’t think many anticipated motorcycle sales would surge back amid the pandemic. With luck, tenacity and good planning, all the shows will also return for the chilly winter months of 2022. We hope.

  • John Molony Canadian Biker Issue #351


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