Matos Vélo limits its plane flights for cycling press presentations

Matos Vélo limits its plane flights for cycling press presentations

On April 22, I posted this on X (the Linkedin article in question can be found here):

With some explanations below:

Too many planes, too many connections, to sometimes ride 60 km on a bike. Likewise, when it is to visit work tools (factories, etc.), it is debatable, but sometimes, the trip does not bring much except being in nice places….

But is this added value for readers? When the journey is by train, it is much less problematic for me. By plane, there are multiple connections. My last trip, Venice… via Munich. It remains to be seen whether brands will see this favorably.

Because it is not them who are targeted by these refusals of invitations, but rather these excessive trips which are super nice, allow you to meet colleagues, engineers, but do not always bring a real plus in terms of experience presentation and testing of a bike.

And what I can afford today when I am “leader” in France in terms of traffic, it doesn’t mean that I can do it the day I am no longer in this fairly favorable position….

Press presentations that have advantages

Meet technicians, engineers, managers from the European region, make yourself known to the brands (even if, in general, when you are invited, it is because you are already known), also build relationships with colleagues, whether they are French or foreign…..

The press presentations (Press Camp for short) are a pleasant moment, in contact with brand representatives, engineers and colleagues who we often only see on these occasions. And during the meals we have together, we discuss this and that and we always learn things about the world of cycling, which we sometimes cannot publish, but which are useful for our general knowledge and know the ins and outs of certain decisions.

You can also ride on roads different from those you usually ride on, without having to worry about mechanics (no bike to assemble or adjust) or all the logistics around. And we generally benefit from a professional photographer who takes the photos that we can use in our publications.

But there are many reverses of the medals

So yes, it’s nice to go to nice places to go cycling. Spain, Italy, Asia, Tenerife, …. and so on. But the carbon footprint of all these plane trips is catastrophic. One of my last trips to Italy, near Venice, is a perfect example of extended flights:

  • Toulouse – Munich – Venice on the outward journey
  • Venice – Frankfurt – Toulouse on the way back

Nearly 3000 km round trip! As the crow flies, at the most direct, it would have been 1800 km round trip.

Not to mention the taxis that take us from the airport to the hotel…. and vice versa… for each journalist. Even if for my part, I always try to fit into a colleague’s taxi, even if it means arriving 4 hours in advance at the airport, to avoid an additional round trip with a shuttle that only transports ‘a single person.

By all being in the same place at the same time, we all have exactly the same information… and therefore, very often the same writings, the same words or even elements of language when we publish our article. Because even unconsciously, we hear the same words from the brand’s teams… which we pick up quite easily. Almost the same photos too, since we are all in the same place.

All this time spent on planes and airports means less time to ride a new bike, to focus on the sensations felt (even more difficult on roads you don’t know). Time wasted also to work on the content of the site. Flights too short to be able to work peacefully on the plane. That’s so much time wasted processing emails. By leaving for 3 days, we find ourselves processing more than 300 emails (including 200 spam!), which takes a good part of the day.

From today, the plane will be limited as much as possible

During the period of COVID-19 confinements, brands were finally able to make video presentations and it went well. We had time to digest the information calmly and often had the bikes in our possession well before the embargo was lifted, time to analyze the bike, to have questions for the engineers and not just immediate reactions.

But since this year, travel has started again and it is sometimes impossible to attend all the upcoming presentations, because they overlap with each other with the problem of time lost in airports, connections, etc.

Furthermore, what added value for you, readers? Whether you are presented with a new bike from Tenerife, Sicily, Italy…. or from Toulouse or Ardèche, for you, no difference. The important thing is the technical aspect and the feeling I can have on this bike.

I therefore make the decision to limit my plane travel as much as possible.. Either an alternative is possible by train, or I will favor remote presentations, with the possibility of having the new bike as soon as possible before the embargo lifts.

As already mentioned, I have already refused 6 press presentations since the start of the year, which involved plane travel. Sometimes, for a simple presentation of helmets or glasses…. with a 40 kilometer bike ride. Is it worth flying 3, 4 or even 5 hours if there are connections?

I recently went to visit the new Origine factory. I had the choice between 2 hours by plane…. and 6 hours by train, I opted for the 6 hours by train.

How to operate now?

For the presentation of a new bike or a new groupset, it is easy for brands to:

  1. organize an online presentation, whether live or recorded, as was the case during confinements
  2. make possible exchanges with the engineer(s) via video or simple email exchanges
  3. send the group / wheels / bike in advance before the embargo is lifted, which already allows you to take photos, a video and ride the bike with peace of mind

The solution would perhaps also be to organize presentations by country, like what an American brand has done in recent years. It is thus easier to bring journalists by train and, in smaller groups, discussions are simpler and more friendly.

Air travel only if of interest to the reader

No, I’m not going to completely stop air travel, but it will be limited as much as possible and only if there is an interest other than riding a new bike in a beautiful region.

My last big trip was to Taiwan for the presentation of the latest Giant TCR, but there was also huge interest as Giant opened the doors to its rim and wheel manufacturing plant. A unique opportunity to share with you behind the scenes.

In this case, clearly, the trip is justified by a unique experience, both for me and for you readers, especially since there is no other alternative of the same magnitude in Europe. And even a video cannot bring a factory visit back to life. Same when I went to MICHE more recently, reporting within the company allows you to know much more than a simple press release, to smell smells, etc.

For the rest, even if press trips have been a habit for decades, the pandemic has shown that established habits can change…. and MUST change. Technology makes it easy to organize presentation video conferences.

It is not because it is a usual way of functioning that we must “deal with it” and not be, we media, actors of this change.

A profession that hardly remains “clean”

Let’s not hide it, being a journalist will remain far from clean. When I go to races like the Dauphiné or the Tour de France to be at the start of the stages and at the hotels with the mechanics, I have to take the car.

But I already manage to limit my speed to 110/120 km/h on the highway, thus limiting my consumption. And I also carpool when possible.

It’s imperfect, some will find it completely useless to “ban” press presentations involving plane travel, but I tell myself that every gesture in favor of the planet is worth taking.

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