In 3 weeks we’ll all discover how good I am as a QB. The upcoming TBI Conference (Jan 25-27, Tempe, AZ) is mine to produce. I hope I don’t throw an interception.
This is the 2nd of these Conferences under my direction, and the imprimatur I’ve stamped on it is: My ardent interest in the future; my look around the corner; at what is likely coming our way; whether we realize it or want it. I’m asking our industry to take the same wager I take: that the enterprising entrepreneur will prosper if he arrives at the future before others do. In my opinion too many conferences, trade shows, summits in our industry are devoted to optimizing the carburetor, rather than embracing fuel injection. In that spirit, some of the questions that animate me are:
Authentic Versus Phantom Change: According to my own polling of Slowtwitchers, about 9 in 10 are entered in a traditional triathlon right now. But almost 9 in 10 are interested in alternative formats and tech. The rate of interest in new formats and tech is outpacing the rate of availability of them. Why? How can RDs, manufacturers, retailers, coaches, clubs choose between what people are talking about versus what people are actually willing to pay money for?
Engines of Change: You want more Generation Y in triathlon? More women? People of color? Zoroastrians. Philatelists? What – no fooling this time – really matters? What are the true catalysts that energize and mobilize a constituency?
The Nature of the IBD: (What you know as your LBS.) In the future, does he stock bikes? Is he a bike fitter? Does he wrench on bikes? Have a Kickr studio? Run an amateur club team? Is he a coach also? An RD? How is each of these a profit center?
Realignment of Sales Channels: How will manufacturers sell? Via customized assembly per exact customer request? With the IBD as the “warehouse”, or at-once, per customer order? Thru fitters? Consumer direct? Which bike maker is pursuing which pathways?
Recognizing Natural Partners: Slowtwitch is the size it is. How do we expand our size? Beyond organic reader growth? By roping in our strategic partners. Our stakeholders. By leveraging their audiences. You’d be pretty surprised if I told you how we did that. Your local race director, your IBD, your club or coach, can do that too. Too often they don’t. But they could.
Messaging: Let’s say there’s information about triathlon relevant to you that you think you might want. A race that’s hard to get into is just about to open reg. We’re about to give out 100 more free foot pods. And how do you want it? By phone? By email? Text message? Push notification? Reader Forum post?
Logistics: How do you know when your bike needs a new chain? When you're running shoes are more worn than is optimal? Can we use workout data aggregation, race calendars, to help? Do you want to take and fetch your bike to your LBS yourself? Have it transported? Have mobile bike repairman show up at your home or work? How will your new bike get assembled? And where? In China? At your LBS? Somewhere else? How many replaced parts will the customer have to eat?
Who's presenting at this upcoming Conference? Jean-Luc Diard is a futurist. I’ve invited him to be our keynote. Most of our invited speakers and panelists are futurists, that is, they're making money now in untraditional pathways. A number of these presenters our attendees won't have heard of, purveyors of consequential tech and processes that haven’t been seen.
Jean-Luc Diard is, by the way, a former chief executive of Salomon, turnaround architect for Mavic, Chairman of Arc’teryx and co-founder of Hoka One One. How do you not just exist, but master, the bike, winter sports, and run footwear industries? (This will be the first time in years I’ve seen both founders of HOKA – Jean-Luc and Nico Mermoud – at the same place at the same time, which will be fun for me.)
The usual suspects will be at our Conference: The CEOs of Ironman and USA Triathlon, the North American heads of IMG, Active Network and others. And me. Just, I'm interested in, animated by, and excited about the next decade because...
I predicted, here in these pages, in 2013, that we were in for a bad decade in multisport. But I also predicted that we’d enter another bull market by 2019 or 2020 (we were flat or slightly up in 2018). It’s a fuel-injected industry who’ll service this resurgent market. Nobody really wanted to hear my bad news in 2013. Who’s listening now?