You might recall that I boycotted the new OutDoor by ISPO this year for various reasons, though my friend Lighthiker lives in Munich and went to visit the show. Here are his impressions from a stroll over the fair, with very little gear focus (that comes later!).
Disclosure: All text besides the Intro and Outro are ©Lighthiker and also all Images are ©Lighthiker and are used with Permission. You can follow the author on Twitter where he is known as Lighthiker.
Twice every year the professional Outdoor industry (= brands and dealers) meet at a fair to present the next season goods and allow the dealers to order. Since many years the winter fair took place in Munich and the summer one in Friedrichshafen at lake Constance. Since this year both fairs are in Munich. I’m visiting the summer edition since at least ten years and you could feel the nostalgia leaving Friedrichshafen and the anxiety what Munich will be like last year. This year all will be new and exciting, right? Well, not everyone buys into that and Hendrik himself decided to go somewhere else this year and skip the fair for a good number of reasons.
I live in Munich anyhow and the fair area is literally next door so it was a no brainer for me to go there. So was it worthwhile? Actually it did not feel that much different. In its core the fair remains as it was: An industry gathering, looking at what the competition does and hoping to leave with full order books. But the vibe felt a bit different this year. Less relaxed, not such a familiar atmosphere compared to Friedrichshafen. Business itself felt even more in the forefront than ever. On the other end you could see all the well-known brand names, the floor space was much wider, the AC and the Wifi was actually working. You had small relaxation areas and opportunities to buy finger food in each hall. The lectures and presentations took place in the middle of the halls and not in separate areas or in the corners like in Friedrichshafen. The lake outside in Friedrichshafen moved indoors in Munich, and in-between two halls they put a Bavarian “beer garden” as you would expect when you stay in Munich. The mandatory outside area was essentially a car park area outside of the halls, it was not the place you want to be and smaller compared to Friedrichshafen - I hope next year they will move it into an area in-between the halls as well.
The basic setup of the halls remained the same. You had areas where the Scandinavian and UK brands where close together you had the tent hall, climbing and shoe sections. All felt familiar. On the other hand the hallways where much wider and it felt more lofty. The organizers added a “Basecamp of Inspiration” area into one of the halls giving Outdoor Startups the possibility the present their innovations. I found this was always a missing piece in Friedrichshafen and whilst some of the companies showed products where at least I had a hard time seeing the relation with the Outdoors it was great to look outside the box.
The number of the prestigious Outdoor Awards grew significantly this year. On top of the “Gold Winners” in 17 different categories they nominated 20 “Winner” winners. Amongst those two from Six Moon Designs (the Lunar Solo and Gatewood Cape) stood out for me. First of all an UL cottage company and second they won the price twelve and ten years after those products have been introduced into the market. Whilst they fully deserved it I was joking with the company representative that it only needs more than a decade for UL companies to receive the recognition they deserve. There also was a “Blogger and Influencer Lounge” as well. Sadly not much more than a separate area where you could sit and have some ad-hoc meetings. Here I missed the public talks and the buzzing atmosphere from Friedrichshafen.
One thing stood out though: Aside some major brands missing almost all booths, especially from the large brands where significantly smaller. It was obvious that the Munich fair charges more for the booth space. This and the fact that Munich in general is one if not the most pricey city in Germany makes a booth and sending people over more costly which brings me to the visitors. While Sunday was a day when it was nearly empty, Monday saw the average number of visitors compared to Friedrichshafen. I’m curious if the expectations from the brands and dealers will be fulfilled in the end. For sure whilst I saw a lot of similarities compared to Friedrichshafen you could also see new developments but the question remains if a traditional fair is nowadays still the right form of bringing the business together. A lot of the brands present their new articles to their dealers in their own format allowing them enough time in their home setting to get their messaging across. With the US counterpart fairs, the OR shows in Denver, taking place shortly before Munich now a lot of the novelties mainly from US brands have already been released. Especially those brands are on a kind of roadshow for at least two weeks across two continents and the question is if that makes a lot of sense.
So… a lot of same, same. Something different (mostly in a positive way) but will that be enough that companies will continue to spend their money for such a show? The future will tell as always…
Lighthiker’s generell impressions from the fair mirror what I have heard from other friends and blogger colleagues who have visited the show in Munich: Some things were an improvement over Friedrichshafen, while other things were not so good. While the ISPO themselves present numbers which make it look like there were an equal amount of visitors as in the past, the comments from various people that visited the fair was that it was amazingly quite. Many missed the atmosphere from Lake Constance and the nearby Alps, and for me it was also positive to hear that many missed a much better Blogger Base (which also was hidden away in the furthest corner of the fair) and programme, though some of the Blogger Walks have been good and the Blogger Party and Get-Together must have been enjoyable. Coupled with the recent News that the Messe Friedrichshafen postponed their new Outdoor Fair to 2020 probably means that at least for now I might be visiting the fair next year…?!
Thanks again Lighthiker for sharing your first impressions with us - give him a follow on Twitter if you want see some more Gear News (or make sure you’re following Hiking in Finland on Facebook and Twitter when our Gear Article from the show goes online)!
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