- Ditch the entry fee. OK, parking was free this year, but who cares? Do you know how many groms were trolling around the parking lot begging for unused wrist bands because they couldn't afford the entry fee? Think they aren't valid customers because they can't afford it? Think again. Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000) boasts a combined spending power of about $150 billion. Aside from some of these kids, how many people do you think opted not to attend knowing that there would be a fee to get inside the gates?
- Get real with race entry fees. I went to Sea Otter this year thinking I'd like to race singlespeed just as I had for the past several years. When you go to Sea Otter to staff a booth, early registration really isn't an option since there are staffing issues that need to be worked out. My race entry fee, combined with the late fee AND the one-day license fee pushed the total damn near $70. I ended up not racing. Truth be told, it wasn't the outrageous fee by itself...I was getting over being sick and the weather was supposed to be bad on race day, but the fee just compounded it all. If the fee were more reasonable, I probably would have bucked up and raced but $70 is a lot of money to shell out. I'd be willing to bet more than a few people opted not to race due to the high fees as well.
- And speaking of fees, get real with the expo fees. As you know, you damn near doubled expo fees on us this year. The cool thing about Sea Otter is the fact that you had the little start-up companies exhibiting side-by-side with the big guys. I know of companies who are still in business today who got their humble beginnings selling at Sea Otter years ago. Let's keep it that way! Consumers come to see and buy new things...why disappoint them? If you keep jacking up the expo fees, you WILL price some of these people right out of your event. Speaking for myself, I came damn close to not attending this year because of the increase. When I mentioned to Skip Latham that it was simply not in my budget, he very graciously granted me a bit of a discount to keep Haro's attendance. I hate to say it, but a huge increase in Sea Otter expo space isn't going to be in my budget next year either. I simply cannot justify to my boss why the cost to attend just doubled. Am I getting anything more than I have in years past? No, I can't say that I will. Do yourselves a bit of a favor...take a look at bicycle sales statistics from a reputable industry source like BPSA. You'll see that the cycling industry isn't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, bike sales are down. Profits are down. Most companies within the industry are looking to REDUCE expenses, not increase them.
OK, well I'm done with my little rant. I hope nobody walks away from this post thinking I hate Sea Otter. I don't. I love the event. For the most part, the promoters have done a fine job at keeping Sea Otter a first-rate event. However, even the best job can still be done better. I'd really like to see Sea Otter remain the wonderful, inclusionary event that it's been for years attended by cyclists of all types, racer or otherwise. Don't give people a reason NOT to attend your event. Moving Sea Otter to May is definitely a step in the right direction. Let's keep on walking, shall we?