Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) is a committee of Automotive Trade Association Executives. The Mission of ASNA is to be the industry resource for auto show information and education, and to provide a network for communication between show executives, manufacturers, other industry affiliates and media.
ASNA Summer Meeting promises lively discussions, networking opportunitiesExcitement is building for the upcoming Auto Shows of North America annual summer meeting--especially among those who have experienced the benefits associated with this key networking opportunity.
The July 13 event, to be held in conjunction with the 2004 ATAE Summer Conference at The Broadmoore Resort and Spa in Colorado Springs, will feature keynote speaker Jason Vines, vice president of communications for DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler Group. The well known and experienced public relations professional, who has also worked with Ford Motor Company and Nissan, will discuss the factors that go into manufacturers' decisions for where product introductions are held. Other guest presenters include: Gary Glenn, president and CEO, NewsWire One, Inc., Curt Van Loon, president, Adstrategies, and Timothy Cunnane, partner, Palmer & Cay, Inc.
ASNA Chairman Rod Alberts, executive director of the North American International Auto Show, will moderate the discussions.
Clay Hepler, who runs the Greater Toledo Auto Show, says the opportunity to learn from other show organizers is a key reason for his attendance.
"We’ve picked up a number of things during casual conversations on what works and what doesn't," says Hepler. "The ASNA group represents an opportunity to share that type of information."
Auto manufacturer representatives like Bill Ames, director, auto shows and exhibits, General Motors Corporation, are also seeing the benefits of attending.
"The ASNA Summer Meeting is critically important to us at General Motors," says Ames. "It gives us a venue to communicate strategic plans to a large number of auto show promoters all at once. This opportunity to deliver a unified message is extremely efficient and effective."
And that’s not just GM talking.
"The ASNA meetings are very valuable to us on a number of levels," says Donna Walter, auto show manager at Toyota Division.
"First, they provide a very good networking opportunity, which is always something that's positive. Secondly, we're able to help with a deeper understanding of why manufacturers choose certain shows to introduce or exhibit concept cars. The ASNA meetings are an ideal environment to have those kinds of discussions."
GM's Ames clearly sees the benefit of putting the ASNA Summer Meeting on his calendar. "Anyone in a similar position of wanting to make this kind of communications impact should really plan on being there."
The ASNA Summer Meeting wouldn't be possible without the support of its sponsors who commit more than financial resources, but also become active participants in important discussions directly affecting auto shows today.
Sponsors of this year’s meeting include:
Note: the ASNA program opens with a Welcome Reception on Monday, July 12, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Meetings and roundtables are
on Tuesday (registration/breakfast starts at 7:30 am) from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm followed by an ASNA reception from 5:00 - 6:00 pm.
Photographers bring auto show images to the worldWorking long days that blur into night. Jockeying for space (sometimes shoving) with thousands of other media types at press conferences. Lugging around tons of camera equipment across acres of show floor without dislocating a shoulder. These are what define the world of the auto show photographer, a competitive job that keeps them running and coping with an auto show's unique set of challenges.
"When you say 'I’m an auto show photographer,' people have this preset idea that you are going to a show to goof around and have fun all day," says Jeff Orlando, president of Glendale, Calif.-based Convention Photo by Joe Orlando Inc. "The reality is, you work your (butt) off around the clock."
Many times, shooting auto shows presents special challenges, Orlando says.
"It's like being in a M.A.S.H. unit; you don't know when the incoming is arriving," he says. "The auto show environment is conducive to displaying cars. It isn't conducive to photography, but you have to give clients a high quality of work."
And you have to be fast at it, says Steve Fecht, owner of Steve Fecht Photography in Northville, Mich. Fecht lends photographic, image editing and consulting expertise to General Motors Corporation during the major shows like Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
Fecht, a former photography director at The Detroit News, works with photographers Tom Pidgeon, John F. Martin and Joe Polimeni in delivering images of GM vehicles to the company Website so that other automotive journalists and editors have access to them by deadline.
And while some newspaper photographers can pack up and leave when media days end, photographers who work for a sponsoring auto dealer association continue their work through the entire duration. Such is the case with Len Katz, chief photographer for Detroit's North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
Nearing 27 years in photography and seven years as photo chief of the Detroit show, Katz, who is studio manager of G-Photographic in Oak Park, Mich., says a challenge to the show is perpetually finding new ways of doing something he's done for years.
While Katz shoots concepts, production vehicles and exhibits for the NAIAS, with the help of photographers George Nagher and Mark Houston, he also must keep track of the show chairmen, executives and local dignitaries.
"The challenge is trying to come up with new and creative images, trying to keep them fresh," Katz says. "The cars are the stars, but I also have to focus on the people factor."
Steve Fecht says coming up with creative images sometimes means going beyond getting the most obvious shot.
"We look for different angles and different vantage points, using a lens we might not have considered," he says. "For the Buick LaCrosse unveiling in Chicago, we went up into the rafters of McCormick Place. We thought it would be a little different. One of the photographers shot from on top and I shot from straight on. We try to do something different. Something fresh. Our clients deserve nothing less."
Motor Trend Auto Show Summit brings ideas, feedback to the tableMotor Trend Auto Shows calls it a "Summit" and for the directors of the 17 shows produced by the Primedia-owned organization, it really is a pinnacle event.
"It’s partly a celebration of the past season," says John Marriott, Motor Trend’s general manager.
But as Marriott explains, the celebratory nature of the three-day annual event quickly gives way to some hard-core assessment of what worked (and what could be improved), incorporating a benchmarking system Motor Trend introduced last year. In that system, each of the 17 shows is able to see how their particular event rated against the others in the Motor Trend network.
Motor Trend has devised a number of measurements that Marriott says gives show directors an objective argument they can apply to negotiations with partners such as media.
"We measure the return on investment for things like media expenditures," says Marriott.
Because the Motor Trend operating model includes a newspaper sponsorship, one of the benchmarking measurements is how much support the show is getting in that area.
"We know what the average of the other 16 shows are getting," explains Marriott. "Armed with that information, it gives our executives a much more objective argument to use in talking with the newspaper."
One of the newer benchmarking categories is the density of a show, a somewhat complicated measure involving three distinct numbers: the number of paid visitors coming into a show, the square footage of the show and the hours of operation.
Armed with that information, show directors are able to make adjustments--perhaps adding hours if needed--or using promotions to move the crowds to other times.
Craig Bickmore, executive director of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association, which owns the Utah International Auto Expo in Sandy, UT), says getting the perspective that comes from exposure to other Motor Trend auto shows is a big reason he attends.
"The information is a big plus for us. It gives us baseline information that shows us where we stand and allows us to become even more efficient at what we do."
"We find it very, very beneficial."
Marriott says the discussions may also involve issues that are raised by exhibitors.
"Last year we saw a push back from some of the manufacturers on the issue of drayage costs," says Marriott, in an interview shortly before this year's event. "As a result, we made some changes; we’ll be talking about how those worked out as far as additional support from the exhibitors."
Marriott says the summit also serves as a jumping off point for negotiations with general contractors, with more than half the events currently out to bid. "We use the bid process to negotiate those rates down," says Marriott, who adds that Motor Trend represents a unique opportunity for individual shows.
"We consider our auto shows as part of a network and we sell sponsorships on that basis," he says. "Those who are looking for an efficient buy can write one check and be in multiple markets, which can be an advantage over point to point selling of sponsorships."
The "network" advantage extends to exhibit managers at the manufacturers, says Marriott.
"When it comes to planning a season, they can cover a number of shows in one phone call."
Motor Trend’s Summit also includes extensive discussions on show content, the talks that last year produced various features surrounding the 40th anniversary of the Mustang and the 50th anniversary of Corvette.
It's an area in which Motor Trend excels, with its wide variety of automotive-related publishing titles and extensive archival material.
"We leverage that material to create features," says Marriott. "If there’s something on the calendar, or there's a particular area of emphasis, like the muscle cars or some other feature, we can build around that."
Even then, the Motor Trend Auto Show Summit is more than creating ideas. It's about listening.
"We’re looking for high level direction," says Marriott. "It's tapping into our clients as to what went well last year, what we need to improve on, and what they're looking for to keep our service offering fresh. It's true that we put a lot of effort into the event, but we take away a lot from the Summit ourselves."
From the show to show room, Cinci show drives dealer trafficAce Ammann uses just one word to underscore the emphasis of the 2004 Cincinnati Enquirer/Post Auto Expo.
"This was a different type of year in that we had very few concept cars," says Ammann, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Auto Dealers Association, owner of the event.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"We don't do formal surveys, but there was definitely a spike directly after the show," says Ammann.
"The reports that we had from dealerships in terms of traffic and overall sales during and following the show were better than in the last half a dozen years," says Hart.
Still, shows require a consistent marketing effort, and Hart says a strong relationship with the lead show sponsors -- the city's two major newspapers -- certainly helped in keeping attendance high, as did a repeat effort to drive advance sales through the Cincinnati-based Kroger supermarket chain, which has some 2,500 stores in 32 states.
As Ammann explains, the relationship with Kroger, which began two years ago, resulted in better than one-third of attendees buying their tickets at the supermarket checkout. "We set all time attendance records that way."
"We sell all the space that we have available," notes Ammann. "Anything else would take away from that."
Next year's show will produce even further challenges as the Cincinnati Convention Center undergoes an expansion and renovation project. "We’ll lose some space during the construction period, but in 2006 we'll have an additional 80,000 square feet to offer."
In the meantime, producer Chip Hart continues to focus on actively marketing the show, through sponsorship programs that included a one-hour live from the floor TV show done by WCPO, the ABC affiliate, and a show section that appears a week before the show in the Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati Post (the newspapers operate under a joint operating agreement).
Ammann says attendees gave particular attention to vehicles in the upscale luxury market, with high interest in models such as the Chevrolet SSR, the Cadillac XLR and the Ford GT.
"Those were very popular with our crowds."
Keeping ‘em happy in Kansas CityAs Bill Morrison talks about the Greater Kansas City International Auto Show, the message is clear: this is a show that's laser focused.
Indeed, you won't find much that doesn't advance the membership aims of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Kansas City, the organization for which Morrison serves as both executive vice president as well as producer/director of the show.
"We have no vendor booths at all at the show," says Morrison, indicating that anything less than that would simply take away from an emphasis on vehicles.
"We have every dealer in our market participating in the show and every product," notes Morrison, who adds that the Kansas City show, while not billed as a "selling show" per se, does allow, under Missouri law, sales to be made.
It's also a popular event--2004 was second only to 2003 in attendance.
Morrison says the boost in attendance was most likely due to a doubling of print advertising that resulted from bringing the Kansas City Star as a sponsor.
"That allowed us to advertise more concept and feature cars as a draw," says Morrison.
Another factor in the increased attendance was a decision to distribute the show's program in the Sunday edition of the newspaper, which increased circulation of the program from 50,000 to 300,000.
This year was also one in which the show's VIP preview party expanded, the first year the event was held in the exhibit hall. Show organizers opened the VIP event to the 114 automobile dealers in the association. Each dealer could invite five couples or 10 people to the event.
While having the preview party in the exhibit hall was one reason for shortening the show by one day, from five days to four, Morrison says the scheduling change also gave show organizers more set up time.
"It worked out perfectly for us," says Morrison, who welcomed more than 1,200 guests, including media and factory representatives along with those invited by the dealers.
Morrison says the show itself benefits from the characteristics of Bartle Hall, where the show is held. Its single entrance gives show organizers an opportunity to provide a single point of contact for the show. "If anyone has a question concerning exhibit space or anything else related to the show, we are right there to provide the answer."
The venue is also ideal from Morrison's perspective.
For Morrison, who produces the show himself, running the association is a third career; he previously owned a Ford dealership and prior to that worked for the manufacturer, something he says helps in putting together a floor plan that is aligned with what exhibitors want.
"We accommodate GM, Ford and Chrysler's global concept, which groups the products together, something manufacturers like," says Morrison. "And it makes sense for similar products to be in the same vicinity, hence Mercedes and Jaguar together and Toyota, Nissan and Honda nearby."
While he admits his approach might seem autocratic to some, Morrison says he's managed to keep everyone happy in the process. "It makes sense for knowledgeable people to layout the show floor plan."
Super Bowl, super show – both were winners in NortheastIn discussing the results of the most recent Northeast International Auto Show, Jack Perkins starts out by talking attendance, but combines the comment with a couple of “you might notice” statements.
“Attendance was very good,” says Perkins, executive vice president of the Rhode Island Automobile Dealers Association, which sponsors the Motor Trend show.
“But you might notice that February 1 (the last day of the show) was Super Bowl Sunday. And you might recall who won the Super Bowl – the New England Patriots.”
Perkins says he’s delighted that the home team took football’s highest honor. His only wish might be that the timing wasn’t quite the same.
“It does affect things,” says Perkins. “However, it’s the second year where we’ve had the exact same scenario, where the auto show was at the same time as the Super Bowl. And both times the Patriots were in it and won it.”
Perkins does say the auto show wasn’t affected as much the second time around, judging by the attendance.
“There was some slippage this year,” he says.
The biggest adjustment was in making sure the breakdown of exhibits would be handled smoothly. Perkins says closing the doors at
5 pm gave workers enough time to get the vehicles out of the Rhode Island Convention Center before the 6:30 pm Super Bowl kickoff.
“Because we follow Detroit, we were able to get vehicles that had been held up for that show,” says Perkins, noting that the earlier Boston show in November wouldn’t have had the same benefit.
Faced with limited space of just 120,000 square feet, Perkins and his team have concentrated on selling sponsorship opportunities as an additional source of revenue for the show, something he says benefits everyone.
“The sponsors can be within a couple of categories, either auto-related, or in an area that is of interest to the public,” he says. “Basically, they’re buying the crowd -- which you build into your media buy.” Those sponsorship mentions then find their way into most auto show advertisements. “It works out very nicely,” says Perkins.
One reason for that is the strong relationship dealers have with local media.
“We’re in a good medium-sized market and dealers are clearly important to the media,” says Perkins. “That’s the case 365 days a year. The media knows that and they’re very good at covering the show. They work with us and in some cases they’re sponsors of the show.”
Media, he says, also see the inherent value of the show itself.
“It has an impact on consumers throughout the year,” says Perkins. And despite the awkward timing (with the Super Bowl), the auto show does signal the beginning of the traditional spring selling season.
“It’s before the car market starts heating up, right after Christmas, when things are quieting down,” says Perkins. “It’s a good way to get the market kicked off and the media is pretty enthusiastic about helping us to be a successful show.”
The character of the show itself, Perkins says, is one that is focused on the vehicles.
“Because there are so many demands on everyone’s time, something like this serves the purpose even better than it used to,” says Perkins. “There are so many models out there, so going to a show is the most effective way for a consumer to try to determine what they’re looking for. For the vast majority of the buyers, it makes a great deal of sense to go to the show. That’s probably the biggest reason shows in general are growing in terms of public acceptance and attendance.”
Giving show goers a purposePast years at the Greater Toledo Auto Show have shown Clay Hepler one thing: the event attracts some serious car shoppers.
As executive vice president of the Toledo Automobile Dealers Association, Hepler should know. He gets the feedback from dealers who experience the impact, especially with this past year's attendance being the second best in the 15 years the event has been at the Seagate Convention Center
"We don’t get people coming out just for something to do," says Hepler. "They have a purpose. We find the show really kicks off the spring selling season and salespeople who work it right can get leads for the spring."
Indeed, Hepler says many dealers will put sales promotions in place for deals made as a result of the show (although direct sales aren't permitted at the event).
"Salespeople will have their business cards and they'll be setting up appointments, getting people excited and getting them back to the dealerships where they make the deal," says Hepler.
While Hepler isn't a fan of attractions that would take potential customers' attention away from the vehicles themselves ("we don’t want to take away from the purpose of the show"), they did, successfully, it turns out, experiment with live entertainment in the form of background music performed by jazz as well as country and western groups.
"It was very well received" says Hepler. "As long as it's not the kind that people will crowd around and watch, it won't be a distraction."
As is the case with many other shows around the country, Toledo this year introduced a gala preview night, specifically set up to benefit two charities: the Salvation Army and the Juvenile Diabetes Association. In addition, the dealer association funded scholarship programs at both the local Owens Community College and Northwood University in Midland, Mich.
At the show itself, in addition to a number of concept cars, the Toledo event hosted an educational display by GM’s Powertrain Division, where employees would tear down and reassemble a transmission. Hepler says the demonstration was very well received by crowds and tech enthusiasts.
Yet another feature was a NASCAR "mini track" that had kids racing models by remote control, all for a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Indeed, the only challenges Toledo generally faces is weather; Hepler still recalls a nice storm that had broadcasters telling people to stay off the roads. "That just killed us on the weekend."
In the meantime, Hepler says he'll continue looking for ways to improve the sold-out event, including utilization of
the lobby area. "That would give us more space that we dearly need."
People are returning to downtown RichmondDowntown Richmond is coming back. And the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show is contributing to the resurgence.
The auto show experienced a near 10 percent increase in attendance, says Allen, who runs the show on behalf of the Greater Richmond group as well as the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, under the leadership of president Don Hall.
Allen credits an improving economy, as well as the change in character of downtown Richmond.
"It’s a wonderful venue," says Allen, referring to a hall that offers 180,000 square feet for the show. Even so, the new center gives the show nearly triple its previous space.
But is "enough" ever enough? Not in the case of the Virginia show.
While certainly the vehicles took front and center stage, including the well-known 40th anniversary of the Mustang, with a 30-vehicle display by the Central Virginia Mustang Club, there were a number of family friendly attractions as well, such as “Rug Rats” character Tommy Pickles. (Kids Day, March 7, admitted children under 12 free when accompanied by a paying adult).
Visitors stood in line up to 90 minutes to have their picture taken with R. Lee Ermey, the retired Marine Corps sergeant of “Full Metal Jacket” and the History Channel’s “Mail Call” fame.
Other vehicle-related displays included a collection of the latest Ferrari and Maseratis and several high-performance street cars set up for road racing, courtesy of the Virginia Motor Sport Club.
In addition, the show featured a preview party, well attended and guest hosted by Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.
In the meantime, Michael Allen says organizers are busy planning for next year's event, working on bringing in more
concept vehicles and "unique" offerings that will continue to catch the interest of a growing number of attendees.
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Don McNeeley, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Rod Alberts, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, staff reporter
Elizabeth Katz, staff reporter
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
11/3/2017 - 11/5/2017
Salt Lake City