It wouldn't take much to imagine Robert Hanczor
connecting with someone like Kevin Leap
. Hanczor is CEO of Piper Technologies
, which is focused on generating digital interactions between marketers and consumers; Leap is manager of the San Diego International Auto Show, which is all about consumers.
What it took may have been something as simple as the fact that the two organizations, the New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County and Piper, have offices located in close proximity, a fact that may be coincidental to Piper's business of offering proximity experience solutions.
Ultimately, Piper made a successful proposal to market test its technology at the show, generating in the process tens of thousands of messages using "iBeacon,"
Apple's published standard for Bluetooth low-power communication.
The system includes a low-power Bluetooth based signal that pairs with an application on either an Apple or Android smartphone.
Piper's systems are certainly not the first to have entered the market, but Hanczor's team believes it has a pretty good chance of making itself a household name in the space, having already made inroads in geographically discrete markets like Columbus, Georgia, where Piper beacons are in a network of McDonald's restaurants as well as at least two dealer groups.
What sets Piper apart is the fact that it works with any beacon that adheres to Apple's standard. "We have really evolved with a mission of becoming the browser of beacons," Hanczor has said.
With a background that includes work at Prodigy
, an early Internet portal that was once owned by IBM and Sears, Hanczor was able to enter the market in a somewhat unusual way, having connected with Wesley Ker-Fox
, a marketer originally from South Africa who had gone to Columbus State University
on a golf scholarship.
That connection is obviously one big reason for Columbus having become a showpiece for the technology, with Ker-Fox now serving as chief marketing officer at Piper.
Hanczor and his team continue to look for vertical markets (like auto shows) as a way of growing the adoption of the technology.
At the San Diego show, Piper was able to connect eight exhibitors, including dealers representing Kia, Ford and Mercedes-Benz, providing them with a package of beacons that were configured to deliver specific messages to visitors, all through their smartphones.
Piper was able to collect the data that gives both exhibitors and the company itself a better understanding of how the technology works in a crowded environment like an auto show.
Using the results from the San Diego show, Hanczor is interested in working with other shows throughout the Auto Shows of North America network.
More information on how Piper works is available online at www.piper.ly
When U.S. President Barack Obama
traveled to Detroit to visit the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), it was to "see firsthand" the progress the U.S. auto industry has made as well as the latest in technological innovation. He also met privately with ATAE Rod Alberts
and the two dealer co-chairs of the event, which is presented by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. Alberts said the president's visit underscores the news being generated at major shows like the NAIAS. "These announcements not only impact the automotive community but are also relevant to the U.S. and world economy," said Alberts. Obama took in a number of autonomous vehicles being developed as well as advanced powertrain technologies along with new production and concept vehicles. Having a U.S. president visit the show has happened only three times—Dwight Eisenhower
took in what was called the Detroit Auto Show in 1960; Bill Clinton
visited the NAIAS in 1999. And Vice President Joe Biden
visited NAIAS 2014. Over the years, a long list of distinguished government officials from White House Cabinet members and U.S. Congressional members to United Nations delegates and top officials from nations around the world have attended the NAIAS.
A group of 18 global automakers say they will form a consortium to develop advanced safety technology. The concept is modeled after similar initiatives made possible through the National Transportation Safety Board
and Federal Aviation Administration
which worked with aerospace companies like Airbus
. The new consortium was announced during a visit of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
to the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The announcement comes at what is seen as a critical time for regulators and automakers, with safety recalls hitting an all-time record of 64 million in 2014. The new safety consortium will encourage automakers to share information on safety issues.
Ford CEO Mark Fields
says the automaker is looking for ways to link its cars with most home devices. The comment, made to journalist Paul Eisenstein
, came after an announcement that Ford plans to partner with Amazon to offer access to the online retailer's virtual valet—Alexa
. Currently, Alexa is embedded in the Echo, a 10-inch tall, black cylinder that helps a consumer connect with so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices. A new study by Gartner
, a high-tech research firm, predicts the typical American home may contain as many as 500 smart devices by 2022. Ford and other automakers are clearly hoping to extend that reach even further.
A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
shows a steady decline in the percentage of Americans under 54 with a driver's license. The question of "why" may relate to several factors, including a penetration of social media, which has reduced the need for face-to-face interaction. Other reasons include various graduated driving laws, which may have encouraged some prospective drivers to skip the process altogether; the cost of car ownership; mass transit availability; car-sharing services; and even eco-friendly ideals, prompting some to seek out greener means of transportation. Click here
It's a ways off, but maybe not that far. A news report from Japan has General Motors and Honda going a step beyond their joint venture to develop advanced fuel cell technology, this one being a new fuel cell plant that could be in production as early as 2025. The move, if it happens, is seen to be a critical next step. If the report is accurate, however, the two automakers would set up a plant to produce fuel cell systems for both companies, although the actual vehicles could be significantly different.
On the heels of an investment in two ride-sharing services recently, General Motors said it plans to start one of its own. GM joins two other automakers—Ford and Mercedes-Benz—in venturing out to the category. In the case of GM, President Dan Ammann
pointed to a strategic alliance with Lyft
as well as its experience with OnStar
as evidence that the automaker is "uniquely positioned to provide the personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future." The new service will initially operate in New York, Chicago and Ann Arbor, Mich.
ATAE Marty Murphy
, whose job as head of the Greater Metropolitan Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association includes overseeing the Indianapolis Auto Show, points to favorable weather as one of this year's top of mind highlights.
"Weather can always be a factor between Christmas and New Year's and we lucked out in that respect," says Murphy.
What helped keep the momentum going as far as attendance is concerned was the calendar itself, with New Year's Day falling on a weekday, which would otherwise have been a slower day.
'A lot of people outside the metro area [some from as far away as Ohio and Illinois] came specifically because they hadn't seen the vehicle [the Zenos, a 1500-pound street legal sports car featured at the show].'
- ATAE Marty Murphy
Even so, Murphy acknowledges that those kinds of subtleties end up averaging out in the bigger perspective.
"When you do all the things you do, it's really a fractional difference in the end," he says. "Our box office might have been down slightly, but then online sales were up so it evens out."
One standout feature of the show that Murphy and his staff were quick in capitalizing on was the appearance of the new Nissan Titan XD truck, which is equipped with an Indiana-built Cummins diesel engine.
Murphy also pointed to what he calls a "first in North America" reveal of the Zenos, a 1,500-pound street legal sports car equipped with a supercharged Ford two-liter four-cylinder engine.
"A lot of people outside the metro area came specifically because they hadn't seen the vehicle," says Murphy, who adds that he spoke to at least one or two who came from as far as Ohio and Illinois."
From a marketing perspective, Murphy and his staff do what they've always done: focus on a variety of advertising opportunities, including conventional print, TV, radio, outdoor and digital, all the while trying to leverage for the maximum reach.
"We've accumulated a lot of e-mails, so we make sure we take advantage of those opportunities as well," says Murphy.
Profile: Indianapolis Auto Show
Dec. 26, 2015-Jan. 1, 2016
Indiana Convention Center
400,000 square feet
Adults $7, under 12 FREE, Police fire military FREE
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association
ATAE Marty Murphy
Executive Vice President
Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association
When it comes to media and auto shows, ATAE Pamela Crail Johnston
has proof positive that you don't have to be one of the majors to generate media buzz.
With apologies to the "Field of Dreams"
movie reference, you simply have to "build it and they will come," something Crail Johnston and her colleagues at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show have done for the last three years.
'Other shows have tried (an Aftermarket Expo) over the years and perhaps were not as successful. The key is bringing in people who have established connections with the aftermarket industry. We are very pleased with the results—this area of the show was always busy and we have plans to expand it next year.'
- ATAE Pamela Crail Johnston
The last iteration of a pre-show Media Morning kicked off with a sponsored breakfast (thanks, Ram Trucks) and was followed by a flurry of press conferences from Ram Trucks, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Lexus, Porsche, Maserati, Jaguar, Late European
, the Thomassima II and San Antonio Raceway.
The result, says Crail Johnston, was a surge in media mentions, a factor in driving attendance some 5 percent higher than the year earlier.
Crail Johnston also introduced for the first time an "Aftermarket Expo," an innovation that turned out to be successful for San Antonio. "Other shows have tried this over the years and perhaps were not as successful," she notes. "The key is bringing in people who have established connections with the aftermarket industry. We are very pleased with the results—this area of the show was always busy and we have plans to expand it next year."
A connection with the San Antonio Raceway
also delivered on its intent.
"The partnership was very successful for us," says Crail Johnston. "We cross promoted our show and their race track and worked closely to bring the racing category to the show in a meaningful way. The raceway was extremely happy with the results and we have plans to continue to build on this valuable relationship in the future."
Crail says the San Antonio Automobile Dealers Association set a goal some four years ago to create programs that would get automakers involved in a meaningful way, something she says has worked.
"Programs like our 'Green Truck of the Year' and 'Commercial Green Car of the Year' awards have been successful in that respect," she says. "And the media morning, which we first did in 2013, continues to grow."
The thought process began with the question: "What would automakers find helpful in increasing brand awareness and selling vehicles?" and went from there, says Crail Johnston.
With steadily increasing attendance, a robust social media presence and an upcoming move into a newly renovated convention center next year has Crail Johnston even more optimistic.
"We expect 2016 to be a banner year for us."
Profile: San Antonio International Auto Show
Nov. 19-22, 2015
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
300,000+ square feet
$12 adults, $4 children ages 6-10, under 5 FREE.
Thursday, 2 pm-10 pm; Friday, 2 pm-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 11 to 7 pm.
San Antonio Automobile Dealers Association
When it comes to one of the best possible reasons to attend an auto show, it would be hard to come up with a better argument than the one made by Kevin Leap
, who manages the San Diego International Auto Show on behalf of ATAE Dean Mansfield
"From a consumer standpoint, being able to go on to the show floor, look at 400 different vehicles, narrow down the choice and actually get in and drive is something that makes a compelling case for the Ride and Drive experience," says Leap.
'We now have 13 Ride and Drives in place and they've never been more successful than they are today. We're still putting through a huge number of people, which is what automakers like to see.'
- Kevin Leap
Ride and Drives remain one of the key highlights of the San Diego show and the momentum is continuing to build.
"We now have 13 Ride and Drives in place and they've never been more successful than they are today," says Leap. "We're still putting through a huge number of people, which is what automakers like to see."
Add in the fact that consumers can interact with highly educated and knowledgeable product specialists in a non-selling environment and Leap says the show is a perfect fit.
This year's show featured some 25 vehicles that hadn’t yet arrived in dealerships, not including concepts such as the Lincoln Continental and Kia's Optima A1A (a reference to the Florida coastal highway made even more culturally significant by the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Vanilla Ice).
Beyond the continued interest in everything new when it comes to various models of cars and trucks, auto shows are increasingly a place where technologies can be showcased.
That was in evidence at San Diego, which happens to be home to Piper Technologies
, which offers "proximity experience solutions" that CEO Robert Hanczor
believes can be of great benefit to auto show exhibitors.
Several exhibitors signed up for a package that included a set of beacons (40 in total) spaced throughout the show in key locations. Once a visitor downloaded a free app for their iPhone or Android device, they were able to get "offers" from connected exhibitors, all tailored to their specific location at the show.
"We had very good feedback from manufacturers and visitors," says Leap. "It's an additional way to get their message out and engage with consumers. We had tens of thousands of messages served to visitors through the technology."
(See feature article on Piper's technology elsewhere in this issue.)
Profile: San Diego International Auto Show
Dec. 31, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016
San Diego Convention Center
525,000 Square feet
$12 adults (13 and over), $9 seniors (62+), $9 military (with ID), $8 children (7-12), FREE children 6 and under. Family Day, Sun., Jan. 4, (12 and under) FREE
Dec. 31, 10 am-6 pm; Jan. 1-2, 10 am-9 pm; Jan. 3, 10 am-7 pm
New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County
San Diego International Auto Show
ATAE Dean Mansfield
New Car Dealers Association San Diego County
It was only weeks after the 2015 Silicon Valley Auto Show wrapped up that ATAE Steve Smith
faced a board decision that would change the future of the show.
Indeed, with no obvious pun intended, becoming a self-produced show a year later would come with its own tagline, which debuted just a few weeks ago at the 2016 show.
'This was really a case where our dealers wanted to have a larger role in seeing their vision for the show play out. This is where technology, particularly the disruptive technology that we're seeing these days, is emerging.'
- ATAE Steve Smith
"This was really a case where our dealers wanted to have a larger role in seeing their vision for the show play out," says Smith. "This is where technology, particularly the disruptive technology that we're seeing these days, is emerging."
Which resulted in the "Future of Drive" tagline that the show has adopted.
The market is arguably benefiting from one of the highest household incomes in the nation (and highest from an educational standpoint as well), obviously helped along by nearby Cupertino and Mountain View being home, respectively, of Apple and Google.
"We wanted the show to be reflective of that kind of natural energy that we've come to enjoy," says Smith.
But Smith had no delusions that there wouldn't be a great deal of hard work ahead of him in going from being part of an existing network of shows (Motor Trend Auto Shows had successfully produced the event for many years) to one that was self-produced.
"Once the decision was made, we began to hit the ground running," notes Smith. "Sending out contracts, getting in with the manufacturers and so forth."
Smith is quick to acknowledge the help he had from his ATAE colleagues in making the transition. "We had a lot of support from San Diego and Portland in particular," he says.
Creating a new look for the show was key, but not entirely without the kind of direction Smith was able to draw upon from members of his dealer group. "They had a vision overall for what they wanted to see and once you start with a logo, you're able to build on that."
One of the key "enablers" was the help provided by Interactive Ticketing
, a Seattle-based firm that works with several auto shows, including Cleveland, Columbus, Charlotte, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego and Miami, as well as Toronto.
"We benefited from not having as many ticket handlers while still offering a very intuitive experience," says Smith.
From a sponsorship standpoint, what is essentially a rebranded show had to start from zero, although Smith says having localized high-tech sponsors (EBay Motors
was on board fairly quickly in the process) certainly helped. Smith was also able to secure Internet radio pioneer Pandora as a sponsor for the show.
"These are the kinds of relationships we’ll continue to cultivate," he adds.
Profile: Silicon Valley International Auto Show
Jan. 7-10, 2016
San Jose McEnery Convention Center
340,000 square feet
Adults, $11; Seniors, Children (7-12), Military, and Students (under 21 with school ID), $8; children under 6 admitted FREE when accompanied by an adult.
Thursday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm.
Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director