1. Event marketer says producers may be missing some opportunities
2. Former DCX events executive joins The Parade Company
3. Upcoming Meetings and Events
9. Show Directory
Event marketer says producers may be missing some opportunitiesFocus.
It’s something Mike Westcott would like to see more of when it comes to auto shows.
As vice president of marketing for The George P. Johnson Company, Westcott says focusing on the products being shown is something that more auto show producers could (and should) be doing.
“The focus should be on adding value and what that means for show producers is doing more capturing of data, very valuable data, on attendees and providing those kinds of value-added services to exhibitors,” says Westcott.
“You certainly don’t want to treat shows exclusively as entertainment and while that’s not happening at this point, producers also need to keep in mind that those who attend are highly qualified and valued prospects, with 65 percent of attendees saying they are going to be in the market for a vehicle in the next six months.”
“There are opportunities to work with manufacturers on everything from loaner cars to shuttle cars,” says Westcott. “The idea is to get people in their products and behind the wheel.”
Another opportunity for show producers to consider is in the area of attendee data.
“Exhibitors are very interested in learning more about their audience,” says Westcott. “Providing incentives for getting that data from attendees and sharing that data is definitely a good idea.”
Westcott says those incentives may include an automotive-related gift related to one of the brands being exhibited.
The change in emphasis, he says, is also about working with exhibitors as partners.
“The opportunity is there to capitalize on what support is already available in the region,” says Westcott. “Being able to identify the various activities in the region and promoting their event with marketing resources is something that will pay off in the long run.”
Former DCX events executive joins The Parade CompanyAuto show veteran Don Schmid, the wunderkind behind DaimlerChrysler’s splashy and spectacular auto show presentations in recent years, has been hired as president of The Parade Company, a Detroit-based not-for-profit organization responsible for production of America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the International Freedom Festival.
Schmid is known throughout the auto industry as a marketing expert and industry leader in promotion strategy development and implementation and has a reputation for leading edge concepts that changed the status quo throughout domestic and international venues.
"The Executive Committee has spent the past six months reviewing candidates and Don's credentials and accomplishments stood out as being those best suited to lead The Parade Company into the future," said David A. Brandon, chairman, Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation and CEO of Domino's Pizza. "Don possesses the creativity, solid business background and dynamic leadership we were seeking for this position."
As president of The Parade Company, Schmid will oversee a staff of 15 people (same as DCX) and an annual budget equal to about 20 percent of what DCX spends annually at NAIAS.
Schmid, whose previous job required traveling 150-180 days a year, says it’ll be good to stay close to home for a change. “I’ll miss the camaraderie with the auto show family, but not the travel.”
Upcoming Meetings and EventsATAE Summer Conference and ASNA Meeting
July 13 - 16, 2004
Montreal overcomes string of woes to rebirth its showBack in business.
That’s the headline Jean-Francois Couture says he would write for the most recent Montreal International Auto Show, an event that lately has been plagued with an assortment of venue-related woes.
But no longer.
Couture, who is executive director of both the Canadian city’s show and the Montreal Automobile Dealers Association, saw attendance rising some 50 percent over the previous year (where there were two events—one in January and then later in November).
Montreal’s problems began in 1999 when a portion of the roof of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium caved in.
While a venue change in 2000 and a subsequent return to the “Big O” (as the stadium is known) contributed to the uncertainty surrounding the show, Couture says those days are but a memory.
With four North American premier unveilings (one each by Jaguar and Suzuki; two from General Motors), plus no less than 37 Canadian vehicle premiers as well as eight concept vehicles on display, Couture says the Montreal show is quickly making up for the disappointments of past years.
“We were everywhere,” says Couture, referring to a program that involved the city’s daily newspapers as well as radio and television stations, both local and network.
Dealers also played a significant role in promoting the show, with distribution of discount coupons, thousands of which were redeemed at the gate.
A feature drawing card for the show was the Canadian premier of the exotic Saleen S7 vehicle, a photograph of which was included in show promotional materials.
Couture says the results speak for themselves.
“We had very high satisfaction rates in our exit interviews,” he says. “Plus people said they thought the show was very good value for the price.”
A full-service daycare facility (sponsored by Kia Motors) was another positive feature of the show, says Couture. “It was very well received.”
Another highlight of the show was a “tuner” display that Couture believes was responsible for a demographic shift in attendance--the 18 to 24-year-old segment increasing by 6 percent to 31 percent of all showgoers.
But Couture says a “back to basics” emphasis was at the heart of a rejuvenated event.
“Lots of premiers, lots of vehicles, and the exceptional Saleen 7 helped inject new life into the Montreal International Auto Show.”
Family fun, local vehicles focus of Alabama International Auto ShowFor a number of years now, Brett McBrayer and his team at the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association (BADA) have been continuing to build their Alabama International Auto Show into a family event, with this past year’s version no exception.
In fact, it keeps getting better and better, with an eight percent increase in attendance and more and more families making it a point to see what’s available at the local dealerships.
Interestingly, BADA, which has owned and operated the auto show for 12 years now, eschews the so-called “exotics,” the point being that the event is a showcase for what show attendees can actually buy locally.
And if it isn’t sold in the area, it won’t be found at the Alabama International Auto Show.
While McBrayer points to a trio of concept vehicles from Ford (including the MA, the 49 and the Equator), a number of attractions geared to various demographics produced what show organizers hoped—a steady stream of people entering the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
For the younger crowd, that included a 10,000 square foot play area populated by characters from Nickleodeon’s “Hey Arnold” and Cartoon Networks “Scooby Doo.” Parents could then confidently leave their children while they looked at what could be their next vehicle.
The musically-oriented may have found their niche with the Country Music Television truck, including a built-in recording studio.
A little older?
They weren’t left out either, with a Classic Car Showcase appealing to those with a nostalgic bent.
McBrayer says having so many different attractions has the desired effect.
“We came to the realization that we’ve already got a lot of people interested in the vehicles they can see at the auto show,” he says. “Where some might be thinking of the world of wheels as being somewhat male dominated, we’re building the show as a family event and that means giving people a variety of reasons to be here.”
The manufacturers continue to provide strong support for the event, with strong showings by Chrysler, the showcasing of the new Pontiac GTO (one of the first times it was shown in the area) as well as a display from Nissan that featured its “made in the south” full-size Titan truck.
McBrayer, who joined the association in 1993 with a plan to “self-produce” the show, continues to employ widespread marketing efforts to promote the event, including a good mix of newspaper, radio and television as well as outdoor advertising.
There is also a close alignment with the nearby NASCAR raceway.
Indeed, the auto show is a key sponsor of the Talladega race—just three weeks before the doors open.
“We have 225,000 people who are being reminded of the upcoming auto show,” says McBrayer. “We know that has a big impact.”
Even when the show begins, there is a deliberate strategy to keep up the momentum, with a TV show running Saturday morning (replayed on Sunday) that stimulates talk of the show and, again, more attendance.
It’s a part of the promotion that is popular—extremely popular—in the local market.
“The only show that had higher ratings on the NBC station was the Auburn-Georgia football game,” says McBrayer. “And that’s saying something.”
If that weren’t enough, the auto show also incorporated for the first time a successful career day, attended by some 3,500 students from around the state, with manufacturer representatives on hand to talk about careers in the auto industry.
“We had a tremendous event this year,” says McBrayer. “Our exit surveys—and we ask a lot of questions of those who attend—showed that people are enjoying the experience. And we know that will keep them coming back, again and again.”
Cleveland raising its profile as auto region with growing showIf there’s any doubt as to Cleveland’s position in the automotive universe, Gary Adams, president of the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association, is ready with a history lesson.
“The northeast Ohio area has a lot of historic connections with the auto industry,” says Adams, responding in part to a question as to why the recent Greater Cleveland International Auto Show (GCIAS) experienced record attendance for both single day and entire show categories.
Indeed, when the calendar flipped from 1899 to 1900, Adams says there were more auto manufacturers in Cleveland than Detroit.
“Obviously, that’s changed, but there’s still a strong presence here in the Cleveland area,” says Adams, pointing to the manufacturing plants of General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and even Honda in Marysville, which is not far from Cleveland.
“Ford Motor Company employs more people in northeast Ohio than any other place other than Detroit,” says Adams.
For those reasons, the GCIAS remains a key event and Adams says the attraction is clear.
“It’s about product,” he says. “With approximately 60 new vehicles not seen in Cleveland before, 10 to 12 of which were concepts, people come here to see what was first seen in Detroit or Chicago.”
But even aside from what is clearly a crowd-drawing vehicle, the show included a number of automotive related activities, including a press conference from Ford, which announced intended production of a vehicle and various engines in the region.
And those at a kick-off breakfast had an opportunity to hear former football legend John Elway (now a dealer himself) speak to a record crowd of 1,300.
Not to be overlooked is the auto show’s charity event, which raised $250,000 for local charities.
Beyond that, entertainment features that included Fisher Price Power Wheels giveaways, autograph signings with Butch Davis and Tim Couch of the Cleveland Browns and a NASCAR Night appearance with Carl Edwards, winner of the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 (at Daytona International Speedway on February 13) rounded out a packed show.
Still, the event is about vehicles and, in the end, about an industry that is ultimately focused on the sales of those vehicles, something Adams says is definitely integrated into the GCIAS.
“Business has seen a shot in the arm as a result of this show,” he says. “Every dealer has said they’ve seen a rapid rise in showroom traffic and sales as a result of the show.”
Oklahoma ‘fairing’ well with two separate showsDouble duty.
While a number of auto show organizers throughout North America find themselves, usually because of scheduling changes, with two shows in a particular year, there’s typically a collective sigh of relief when things go “back to normal.”
And then there’s Oklahoma City.
For Peter Hodges, president of the Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association, having two distinct auto shows in the city is an annual occurrence.
The “season” begins with September’s Oklahoma State Fair, one of the biggest state fairs in the nation, which draws about 1 million people. While the “Oklahoma State Fair Auto Show” includes a relatively small amount of space—roughly 55,000 square feet—it has a long history dating back to 1917 and is the original show in the area.
Even with the relatively small size, eight manufacturers participate in the state fair event.
Come March, Hodges and his team at MADA are ready to do it again, this time with the 160,000 square foot Oklahoma City International Auto Show, an event that is continuing to innovate and grow.
One example this year is the “Ride and Drive Experience,” an outdoor test drive event that saw substantial line-ups for an opportunity to take one of the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles through its paces.
Hodges has no doubt there the success of the 2004 show will be repeated in Oklahoma City next year.
“Oh yeah, we’ll do it again,” he says, clearly pleased with the turnout and response. “People would see the test drive and go straight to the tent to get in line.”
He says the event provided real value to show visitors.
“They pick whatever vehicle that’s available to drive with an instructor, test out how the car will perform in a hairpin curve and see what it will do on a straightaway,” he says. “It gives a better experience than they might have at a dealership.”
But the “Ride and Drive Experience” was just one of several events Hodges and his team developed, the result being recorded attendance that he says was the second best show ever.
Also high on his list of successes for the March show was the Auto Show for Kids, a 16,000 square foot area that included a play area equipped with inflatables, a Fisher-Price Power Wheels Track and Play Ground, showing of cartoons from the Cartoon Network, and the Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes play area.
The children’s event also included a “Who Wants to be a Super Hero” Show (featuring Spiderman, Spidergirl and Wolverine).
Kids also had the opportunity to have their pictures taken with SpongeBob Squarepants and Patrick, two of the most popular characters going.
Hodges says he borrowed the idea for the Kids Auto Show from the Atlanta show, something he says more show organizers should do as a matter of course. Auto Shows of North America, adds Hodges, has encouraged shows to exchange ideas with each other and has become a good network for sharing.
“I talk with a lot of others about various ideas,” says Hodges. “We say ‘this works, try it.’”
Getting people to the show was certainly a key objective for Hodges, who included University of Oklahoma football star Derrick Strait in his lineup. The soon-to-be NFL standout was available for autographs on the Friday night of the show.
The show also included a contest to win $5,000 toward a new car from a MADA dealership.
All the while, show goers were being entertained and got to see some great vehicles.
Still, Hodges says innovating, even while acknowledging the great heritage of the Oklahoma City events, is key.
“You’ve got to keep things fresh,” he says. “You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again, no matter how great they were the first couple of years. We try to keep coming up with something that is new, that is already considered to be popular nationwide, then reap the benefits at our own show.”
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
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Don McNeeley, ATAE President
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