For the last 25 years, the outdoor industry has made an annual pilgrimage to the town of Friedrichshafen in southern Germany, on the north shore of Lake Constance (known locally as Bodensee). Thousands of exhibitors and visitors have gathered there for OutDoor, Europe’s main summer trade show for the sector.
Friedrichshafen is lovely and it’s flanked by plenty of other lovely towns and villages. And the trade show itself is excellent – for a few days, the global outdoor industry is focused on the event, which is a great opportunity to showcase innovative products, new marketing and other initiatives, and to network.
However, and it’s a big ‘however’, Friedrichshafen is not easy to get to (think ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’!) and the infrastructure there has limitations. As the industry and the OutDoor show have grown, the location has struggled to cope. I have been attending for around two decades and this year I ended up staying in the gorgeous town of Lindau, about 20km away from the show.
That presented some challenges in getting to and from the event and though I actually enjoyed my early morning walks along the lake shore to catch the first train to Friedrichshafen, the experience did remind me why the outdoor industry has decided (after a long, exhaustive process led by the European Outdoor Group – owner of OutDoor – and a clear democratic vote of members) to relocate the show to Munich from 2019.
I will remember Friedrichshafen with great fondness (and gratitude) and I’m sorry that I won’t be returning there (or Lindau), on business at least. The 25th edition of OutDoor was a great finale, and for me at least, the last show there was very busy and productive, working with the EOG, It’s Great Out There Coalition, Helinox, WakaWaka and Berghaus. As the saying goes, I wore plenty of hats, and occasionally I needed to take the weight off my feet (on a Helinox chair of course).
And then came the journey home – a three mile walk, followed by a train, then a boat, then a train, then an aircraft, then another aircraft, and finally a lift home from the airport. Phew!