Overland Expo is the world’s premier event for Overlanding and adventure travel. For years, it has been a mecca for like-minded individuals to come together and celebrate their love of exploration. Recently, however, there has been some upheaval with a cultural focus, with new ownership that seems to be more focused on profit than on the culture and community that has made the event so special. Only time will tell what this means for the future of Overland Expo, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at what’s happened so far.
Overland Expo was founded in 2009 by Roseann and Jonathan Hanson of ConserVentures LLC. Since then, it has grown exponentially, becoming the go-to gathering place for overlanders from all over the world. In 2018, however, things started to change. That’s when Hanson sold majority ownership of the company to Lodestone Events, which is an event production company with core competencies in event planning & logistics, marketing & communications and sponsorship & exhibitor sales.
Since Lodestone took over, there have been a number of changes that have left many longtime attendees feeling concerned about the event’s future. For one, ticket prices have increased since 2018. Additionally, several popular features—such as free camping and guided off-road drives—have been eliminated or severely scaled back, however education was increased for all attendees, regardless of ticket level. And finally, Lodestone has instituted a number of changes to the event format that seems more geared toward profit than towards creating an enjoyable experience for attendees, judging by vendor fees, permits for activities, and no differentiation between a vendor and a community space, both being treated equally in terms of fees.
These changes have led many to speculate that Lodestone is planning to sell off the Overland Expo at a margin multiple, or perhaps develop the Expo into a SEMA-type event. Only time will tell if either of these is true, but in the meantime, we can only hope that Lodestone sees the value in maintaining the community and culture that made Overland Expo great in the first place.
Overland Expo is at a crossroads. The new owner appears to be more interested in profit than in preserving the culture and community that makes the event so special. This leaves many attendees feeling uncertain about the event’s future. Only time will tell what Lodestone has planned for Overland Expo, but here’s hoping they realize that it is the people—not the profits—that make this event so special.