Emerald Expositions, a public company best known for the trade show events, Surf Expo and and Outdoor Retailer, this week announced the acquisition of Lodestone Events, the company responsible for the Overland Expo Series. In the outdoor lifestyle world, this is is a major development with Emerald diversifying its mission to now include consumer facing events in its portfolio, rather than simply having a business to business focus. On a personal note, it also feels like our little Overlanding Industry just got recognized as an accepted recreational category and that, my friends, is a positive.
So what does any this mean for you, the reader and everyday overland adventurer? Well, on the surface and immediate future, probably not much. However in reality, we’re likely to see the Overland Expo Series grow in scope and potentially locations. That’s a good thing, as it will allow you, the participant, greater access to what’s new in Overlanding and the Outdoor recreation space.
Luckily, today TAP was able to grab a few minutes of conversation with Jeff Davis, Group Vice President of Emerald Expositions and the man behind the acquisition. Here’s a couple of take-aways:
What’s the broad brush strategy behind the acquisition?
Jeff believes in growing the Outdoor Recreation space overall from an industry and participant point of view. In his opinion, the Overlanding category has become significant, and is a natural fit within their portfolio. Also, with the pandemic, they’ve seen a massive interest in outdoor recreation, particularly in the overlanding category, so Jeff believes that speaking to the consumer directly makes sense.
Expansion and consolidation vs. expansion and diversification?
I asked him if we were going to see the Overland Expo Series grow while remaining an overland specific event, or are we going to see expansion and diversification into the middle ground of Vehicle Supported Adventure? I asked this question because the average overland consumer is also diversified in their adventures. They’re surfers, mountain bikers, hikers, climbers etc. and use their built rigs to support these pastimes. With the purchase of Lodestone, Emerald also acquired the Outdoor Adventure X Festival and it will be interesting to see if these stay separate or combine into one Vehicle Supported Adventure series. Jeff was non-committal and said that time will tell.
Change is inevitable, but personally I feel it’ll be positive. This week, the Overland Category came of age as an Industry and today we have a bigger voice and influence. Having a voice at the “recreation table” potentially keeps trails open and educates the sometimes over zealous “trail closure folks” about our purpose and needs. I’m excited about the future and for now, I’ll simply get back to having fun in the backcountry!
See you on the trails!