Messe München, the organizer of the Ispo shows in Munich, Beijing and Shanghai, won a clear majority of more than 65 percent of the votes cast by the members of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) in the contest for the future venue of the OutDoor show, starting in the summer of 2019. The EOG declined to give out the scores of the other two contenders, Messe Friedrichshafen and Messe Hamburg, but we understand from a good source that they were not too distant from each other.

The management of Messe Friedrichshafen reacted immediately to the EOG's announcement by declaring its intention to stage a new version of the trade show from 2019. Stating that it had received support for an independent event from “several” EOG members and many of the 869 other exhibitors who participated in last year's OutDoor show, it said it will be conducting talks with the industry to consolidate the new project. Dates and other details will be announced at this year's OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen on June 17-20.

For the time being, Munich feels confident that its own version of the OutDoor show and collateral activities will be a success, as the members of the EOG represent something like 70 percent of the outdoor market in Europe, with the exception perhaps of private labels like Decathlon's Quechua, so the buyers will feel compelled to attend it. Messe München has agreed to keep calling the fair OutDoor, without changing its name to Ispo Summer or something similar, but it has received inquiries to hold a bike show, which would be in competition with Eurobike in Friedrichshafen. A new battle of the fairs has just started.

In response to Messe Friedrichshafen's announcement, the EOG pointed out that it surveyed around 90 percent of the market and spent more than 90 hours of face-to-face interviews with key stakeholders to determine what the industry and its retail clients wanted from the show through its Vision 2020 project, which began more than two and half years ago. “The EOG's key aims have been to keep the sector united, and to ensure that it has the right trade platform for the 21st century digital outdoor industry, ” it stated, adding that all three shortlisted venues had an equal opportunity to propose their solutions.

Klaus Dittrich, chairman and chief executive of Messe München, said that OutDoor is the perfect partner of the Ispo group because today's consumers tend to participate in a number of sports activities, rather than just one, and the industry has moved beyond the traditional areas of mountaineering and climbing, entering areas like water sports, running, urban lifestyles and fitness. Besides, he noted that Messe München is the only exhibition center around the world to have received TÜV Süd's certificate as “energy efficient company”

In the ballot for the show's future venue organized by the EOG, each of its 97 members had one vote, irrespective of size, and 94 percent of them participated in the contest. They all attended the presentations made by the three candidates at the EOG's annual meeting on Jan. 27 in Munich, on the eve of the Ispo show, or they were given subsequently access to the related videos and documents before casting their digitally secured vote online.

Prior to the annual meeting, the board of the EOG had narrowed down the choices for the future location of the OutDoor show to the three German cities, after discarding the proposals made by the trade show organizations of Stuttgart and Milan.

The representatives of the national trade associations affiliated with the EOG were not allowed to participate in the vote. It was decided to announce the winner if one of the three candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote by Feb. 7. If not, there would be a second online ballot where the members would be asked to choose one of the leading two candidates. The final result would have been announced on Feb. 14.

The first ballot closed at 5 PM on Wednesday Feb. 7, as planned, but the independent provider of electoral service chosen for the process was given time to verify and count the votes. The final result was announced on Thursday.

Messe München, which hosts many outdoor companies at its winter Ispo shows in Munich and China, probably won the contest for many reasons including the easier access to the city for foreign travelers, Munich's ample accommodation facilities and the strong development of its internet-based services all year ‘round.

The choice of Munich as the venue of the OutDoor show was a clear victory for Tobi Gröber, who started to work for the Ispo organization 17 years ago, for a while running its outdoor section. Ispo had lost the outdoor community 25 years ago because the former management had not given it the prominence it deserved at its former summer edition.

The selection process was conducted in a very professional way as part of a new Vision 2020 program under the leadership of Mark Held, the long-time secretary general of the EOG, who is planning to step down after the 25th edition of the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen in June. The recruitment of his successor should be finished by then. He told us that he was happy that the decision was made on the basis of knowledge, rather than emotion.

The management of Messe München seemed to be quite confident about the final outcome during the recent Ispo Munich show. No wonder that Gert Boyle, the 92-year-old “tough mother” of Columbia Sportwear, one of the world's biggest outdoor companies, was selected to be the first non-athletic celebrity to get the annual Ispo Cup at the show's gala dinner on Tuesday last week.

Among other testimonials, a video showed Phil Knight paying tribute to her ability to turn around and grow a company that was nearly bankrupt after the premature death of her husband. Gert's 68-year-old son, Tim Boyle, picked up the award at the ceremony.

Dittrich expressed his wish to turn Ispo's traditional VIP dinner into a twice-yearly event, obviously alluding to Ispo's bid to host the OutDoor show. Dittrich, who is now 62 years old, is an outdoor enthusiast himself, and he is planning to make a second attempt at reaching the summit of the Mont Blanc next September. It will be one way to celebrate today's victory.

More in the next issue of The Outdoor Industry Compass.