“The industry is looking forward to the festival and this can be seen in the rate at which the expo zone is being booked up”.
We interview Albert Balcells Padullés, CEO of Sea Otter Europe, Europe’s cycling festival, which is to take place on 24, 25 and 26 September, 2021, in Girona, Costa Brava.
You define yourselves as Europe’s Bike Show, how necessary is it to hold such an event?
The importance of organising a physical event, in festival format, aimed at final customers and in an environment such as Girona, Costa Brava, is necessary and practically essential for sales.
The need to continue creating a space for brands so they can carry out branding actions in a close and experiential way, to demonstrate and allow products to be tested first-hand, without resorting to online media, and to create a weekend of networking and contact for the cycling industry is fundamental so that the sector can continue to push forward.
You have chosen September again, are you happy with your decision?
We think that choosing September was a great decision. The idea was to look for dates that were safer. Choosing May to July again would have been very risky. September gives us more safeguards and the confidence to be able to hold the fifth edition of Sea Otter Europe in good conditions, without any postponements or cancellations, and with as much normality as possible.
Are your sponsors the same again?
Our sponsors often return for subsequent editions. We continue to work with Continental, Canyon, Abus and Cetelem, as well as Garmin, which has joined us once again for 2021.
These are brands that are market leaders, loved by consumers and synonymous with innovation and quality. We love building a project like Sea Otter Europe together.
What is the booking rate like?
Since we opened on 9 February, 2021, the booking rate has been high. Brands are continuing to reserve places and the festival map is filling up little by little. At one point we had 85 confirmed exhibitors and 45% of the expo zone snapped up. Now we have 130 exhibitors and 65% of the expo zone reserved.
The reality is that the new booking system is faster and more agile for exhibitors. It allows you to view the map, choose your space and block out the space on the spot.
We’re also witnessing a trend in which brands are choosing to participate in fewer, but more impactful events. Sea Otter Europe, it seems, is one of them.
What do you see as the challenges for the 2021 edition?
The main challenge is that the production and supplies of brands are back to normal and they therefore have all their products available to be seen, touched, and tested by visitors during the festival.
We also hope that international travel will be back to normal
and that sponsors, exhibitors, participants and visitors will be able to get to the festival without any problems.
What can we expect from the bike test programme?
The Sea Otter Europe demobike programme is the main attraction for brands and visitors – the meeting point for these two groups.
Brands have explained to us, in previous editions, that the sales conversion rate is high after a bike test ride. That’s why, at organisational level, we will continue to offer the best tracks for testing bikes: short-, medium- and long-distance circuits for different levels. Also one for testing electric bikes.
We have also improved the demobike booking tool. Users will be able to reserve their bike on the Sea Otter Europe website or in person at the Sea Otter Europe stand. The difference is that you won’t have to go to the company’s stand on the day of the festival to validate your booking. Everything is much speedier and easier.
Will visitors have to purchase a ticket to enter the festival?
One of the extraordinary measures – already planned for 2020– designed to help control capacity limitations due to the COVID-19 situation, was for visitors to require a ticket to enter the festival. For this edition, tickets will be free and visitors will have to download them via the festival website.
What the festival’s sports programme like and what’s new?
The great new feature for the 2021 edition is the E-Bike World Cup – the World E-Bike Series (WES) – which will be included for the first time as part of the Sea Otter Europe sports programme. We would like to thank Girona City Council and Girona Provincial Council for supporting this top-level e-bike competition.
As for the rest of the sports programme, 95% of it remains unchanged. There will be mountain bike races: the Super Cup MASSI at C1 level; the SCOTT Marathon, at UCI Marathon Series level. In terms of road cycling, the CONTINENTAL Ciclobrava will return with three distances; for the gravel category we will continue with the CANYON Pirinexus Challenge adventure, and the Girona Gravel Ride. And, in the DH category, the MINI DH Sea Otter Europe will return once again. We’ll also have electric marathon for amateur e-bike users with the CANYON eMTB Marathon, as well as one new feature: an Enduro event. Finally, the children’s activities for the active families in attendance at the festival will also return.
Costa Brava-Girona is a well-known tourist and sports destination for cyclists, what added value does it give to the festival?
Costa Brava-Girona is a perfect tourist destination and somewhere that Sea Otter Europe feels very much at home.
Its tourism strategy is fully aligned with that of the festival. We both want a large volume of high-quality visitors with a sporty, family profile, who come from European countries and are looking for a tourist-friendly, sport-oriented destination somewhere that has a good climate, great gastronomy and services and infrastructure that respond to their cycling expectations.
Without a doubt, the Sea Otter Europe weekend also offers a great experience thanks to the destination in which the festival is located.
We would like to thank Girona Provincial Council, Girona City Council, the Costa Brava Tourist Board and the Government of Catalonia for the warm and friendly treatment they give us year after year.
We would also like to thank the sponsors and exhibiting brands that have placed their trust in the festival for their support, and finally, the participants and visitors who make Sea Otter Europe an incredible weekend of cycling.