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.
San Diego brings auto show in house, hires director
The decision to bring show operations in house was made by Mansfield with the support of the NCDA Board of Directors after great consideration.
The new position means the end of the show's relationship with producer Motor Trend Auto Shows, Inc., which Mansfield describes as "an
important asset to our show's growth and development in recent years."
VW PR vet Fouladpour joins Porsche NATony Fouladpour, a mainstay at Volkswagen of America, most recently as public relations manager for North American operations, is now manager of corporate communications for Porsche Cars North America, based in Atlanta.
In his new job, Fouladpour reports to Bernhard Harling, Porsche general manager of public relations. In a release, Harling said the bolstering of the PR team, which also includes the addition of Heidi Weber as senior specialist, corporate communications, improves “the quality and depth of our ability to communicate with and serve the media in North America, which is an ongoing priority at Porsche.”
Fouladapour is equally positive about the move. "I'm excited to be a part of the communication team for a German brand that is one of the world's most respected because of its well-earned history of performance and distinct luxury. It is truly one of a kind."
SEMA: working with OEMs on accessory issuesIt’s personal. For Peter MacGillivray, vice president of marketing and communications at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the proliferation of customized vehicles and the popularity of various tuner displays at more than a few auto shows is easy to explain.
That demand is reflected in the obvious popularity of products that consumers are buying to customize showroom vehicles, either after they drive off the dealer lot or, as the auto industry is discovering, before.
“It’s become a very important source of revenue for dealers and automakers,” says MacGillivray.
SEMA is making it easier for its members to “get it right” when producing matching color for add-on products (the paint codes are now available to SEMA members on its Web site). And the organization continues to work with automakers to advocate for the design of “accessory friendly” vehicles.
An area of some concern is an automaker combining complex electronic controls into dashboard space once reserved for audio systems.
“Those controls used to be all over the vehicle. In some cases, they’ve centralized those processes in places like the radio, so it’s not just a radio, it monitors the engine,” says MacGillivray.
The potential impact on the aftermarket is huge.
“I might be an audio guy but I run the risk of setting off the airbag,” says MacGillivray. “The challenges are not insurmountable, but it makes it much more difficult to work on a vehicle.”
SEMA’s challenge is to convince automakers who may want to keep out the aftermarket companies that it makes good business sense to do otherwise.
“If we can demonstrate that giving us access and input to designs helps them make accessory-friendly vehicles, that might just benefit them in the long run.”
Sparrow is back, with new name
MTAS promotes MarriottMotor Trend Auto Shows has added “senior” to John Marriott’s title. Now senior vice president and general manager of the auto show producer, Marriott has added responsibility for managing events within Primedia’s international automotive group, including the Lowrider tour, Super Street tuner event series, Hot Bike events and the Home Technology show. Before joining Motor Trend Auto Shows, Marriott was vice president of operations at Primedia’s consumer magazine and media group. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Harvard Business School.
National Convention Services: bringing service to the auto show floorMore often than not, you’ll find him on the road. And he regards his clients more like friends than as business acquaintances. And vice versa.
A native of the Bronx, Angellino grew up the son of a carpenter and spent his youth plying the trade.
After earning a degree in psychology and business, he steered that knowledge into a new direction, joining a number of partners (many of whom were contacts of his father) and forming a company that today bears the name National Convention Services.
Since then, Angellino has bought out his former partners and 20 years later, the firm employs a core of about 50 people and up to 3,500 trades as the auto show season progresses.
And although auto shows has become an increasingly dominant part of National Convention Services' portfolio, that wasn’t always the case.
“When 9/11 hit, things changed,” says Angellino. “Trade shows as a whole declined dramatically after that, but auto shows, oddly enough, did not. They’ve actually either maintained or grown since then and we’ve been able to grow with them.”
At the core of the business is the I & D (installation and dismantling) work that’s essential to an auto show being ready to open its doors to the public.
While larger companies may deliver a wide range of services, including drayage as well as the I & D work, Angellino says it’s actually a testament to National Convention Services that the company’s client base continues to be loyal.
He thinks he knows why.
“We spend a lot of time with our clients, and we’re constantly looking for ways to serve them better,” says Angellino.
And there’s no doubt: the business he’s in is no cake walk.
“The labor side of the business, which is what we’re in, is not the most profitable compared with areas like drayage,” says Angellino. “But our ability to stay service oriented is what makes us successful.”
Angellino also points to the loyalty and expertise of National Convention Services’ staff as being instrumental to the company’s success.
“Many of the people we have here have been with us for more than two decades,” he says. ”These are people who would walk through fire for our clients and I’m personally grateful for their dedication to what we do.”
Those service oriented traits come into play in little ways, such as how National Convention Services flies its key supervisory personnel to auto shows, knowing they have the ability to get the work done in more efficient ways, having done the very same work in show after show.
Or in lining up crews who’ve worked together and on the same displays in a half dozen shows before, knowing they know how a complex exhibit can be installed and dismantled in the optimum way.
Being closely involved in the business is something of a Jimmy Angellino trademark.
“I go to all the major shows and a good number of the smaller ones as well,” he says. “I’m intimately involved in our clients. If there’s an issue, I make the decision to fix it.”
Angellino’s expansion from his New York City base came as word of his work spread.
Even so, not every opportunity for work was pounced upon.
Recalling an opportunity to do even more work than he’d already been offered in Miami, Angellino says he very nearly declined the opportunity, even though it would have meant more money in his pocket.
“I told the client I wouldn’t do it unless I was reasonably sure I could bring the people I needed together, including the supervisory staff who were familiar with the exhibits,” he says. “In the end, it happened and we got even more opportunities as a result, but I’d rather be able to do an outstanding job than take it and not do it well.”
Being able to successfully deal with labor issues in dozens of cities every year is another competitive advantage for National Convention Services.
“We deal with shop stewards and business agents all over the country,” says Angellino. “And there are numerous payroll and benefit issues to contend with. For a lot of our clients, they’re in that city once a year. Taking care of those details is another piece of the value equation.”
As a post script, Angellino makes a comment that underscores a belief based on the ultimate teacher: experience.
“There are businesses that have grown a lot faster than we have, but most aren’t around anymore.”
Cleveland: Free parking, free gas boosts attendanceIt’s about connecting with the community.
That, in essence, is the thinking behind the Cleveland Auto Show’s efforts to market its event. And Chuck Cyrill, who handles public affairs and communications for the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association (GCADA), says it’s one reason show attendance was up, albeit slightly.
“We’ve kept in mind that our market is mostly domestic,” says Cyrill. “Ford and Chevy alone account for more than one third of total auto sales in the 19 counties in the area. Add in the Chrysler group and it’s over 60 percent.”
Cyrill says that sales profile has translated into strong domestic support for the auto show, although not to the exclusion of import or transplanted brands.
“We had a slew of 2007 models, a lot from the domestic manufacturers, but also across the board – from Audi, Honda, Hyundai . . . just about everyone,” he says.
Another challenge was bringing in visitors who may have already taken advantage of previous years’ marketing efforts that included employee pricing or zero percent interest financing.
For Cyrill and Gary Adams, GCADA president, it wasn’t just one thing that would do it. Indeed, a litany of special features, attractions and appearances, notably from popular sports personalities, all played a role in driving interest and attendance. The question is, where to start?
“Camp Jeep Cleveland clearly pulled off what it was intended to do,” says Cyrill, noting that Jeep sales are up in the Cleveland market since the show.
It appears that other brands also benefited from visibility at the show; Cyrill notes that 15 brands were up in sales for March (the show concluding March 5).
Many of the features the Cleveland Auto Show put in place were scheduled through the week, for one obvious reason.
Hence, a series of appearances by sports celebrities were nicely interspersed on just about every night. Show attendees lined up to see and be seen by notables from the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers, Browns (with coach Romeo Crennel and Ohio favorite Charlie Frye, the quarterback who played college ball at Akron). One of the biggest sports attractions was that of three Ohio State linebackers – A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel.
The show also included a classic car display (and competition), a “Driving 100 Years Ago” exhibit by the Western Reserve Historical Society, and a tuner display, all popular with attendees.
Cyrill says getting people to the show itself was made that much easier by an offer of free parking (paid for by show organizers). “Normally, people attending events at the I-X Center have to pay for parking, so that was a popular move.”
There were also a slew of marketing efforts working together to drive attendance, including sponsorship of the Website by BP. That package also included a fuel giveaway of $20,000 in gas over the nine-day show. Show organizers tied in with shows such as Oprah and Dr. Phil to publicize the giveaway. “That built media impressions, again helping with attendance,” says Cyrill.
Columbus: Clean fuel display part of the mixEven while attendance at this season’s Columbus Auto Show was off slightly, the turnstile numbers are closer to what show coordinator Melissa Dehl calls “normal.”
Still, it was a healthy crowd that attended the central Ohio event, most likely due in part to a concentration of advertising that made people aware of the auto show and why they should attend. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”
Especially with fuel prices being the way they are, a new alternative fuels area received strong interest. “Clean Fuels Ohio, an organization that was started up a few years ago to promote alternative fuels, had people there to answer questions about hybrid, flex fuels and other issues,” says Dehl, who is on the board of Clean Fuels Ohio.
Having the exhibit located at the highly visible main entrance to the Columbus Convention Center likely didn’t hurt.
“It breaks up the visit for people,” says Dehl.
There was plenty to see at the show as some 45 manufacturers were represented and 90 dealers from the area participated. In a show like Columbus, even though manufacturers will bring in product specialists, sales people are invited to participate as well. And they do.
Other highlights of the show included a classic car area, a display of drag race cars, and even motorcycles.
“It’s a low pressure environment where people get to see everything that’s available. That’s what makes the auto show such a great event.”
Honolulu: Dealer efforts to reform educational system fall shortLast season’s profile of the First Hawaiian International Auto Show included the educational initiatives of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, efforts that included lobbying for substantive changes to the Aloha state’s curriculum, sparked by concerns among some dealers that warranty claims were in jeopardy because of poor reading and writing skills.
“We worked for years to get the bill out,” says Rolf, clearly discouraged by the outcome. “And it was gutted in the last hours.”
Even so, the association continues to celebrate educators and the importance of education at what Rolf argues is one of the most picturesque venues for any event.
“It’s hard to imagine a prettier setting,” says Rolf, speaking from an office that overlooks Diamond Head and referring to the Hawaii Convention Center and its proximity to Waikiki Beach.
Rolf also says the show distinguished itself with an increase in attendance – up 2.4 percent – crediting the gain not with something that happened but what didn’t.
“The last few years we’ve had a number of things occur that hurt us in attendance,” says Rolf. “One year it was a teacher’s strike, then the country went to war, and last year the Pope died on our opening day. This was the first year in recent memory that everything was normal.”
Inside, show goers happily lined up to see R. Lee Ermey, the retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant and now host of Mail Call on the History Channel. Ermey first became famous for his tough-guy appearance in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and later in “Full Metal Jacket.” Line-ups to get autographs and a chat with Ermey were typically between 90 minutes and two hours.
Along with a wide assortment of new vehicles, show highlights included a vintage display of Porsche cars (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Porsche Club of America), a showcase of Chevrolet Camaros, and an eye-catching Chevrolet Corvette display, all provided by local organizations devoted to their particular vehicle.
Richmond: 'Fence features' bring new crowdsOn the heels of “one of our best looking shows ever,” Michael Allen of the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show says an event that was wall-to-wall with manufacturer exhibits means some of the features other shows have simply had to go.
The show, however, is looking for ways to expand its space. “We have about 20,000 square feet available in an adjacent area and we’ll be using that space for feature-type attractions such as an aftermarket alley and racing simulators.”
Allen is even talking about a rock climbing display as a way to further engage show attendees.
“This year, the lack of space just wouldn’t allow for it,” he says.
While attendance was off slightly, Allen says it was due to one of those factors for which show organizers have no control: the weather. In this case, it was good weather that had some spending the Saturday working on their lawns. “You always run that risk,” he says. “We’d come off a nice cold winter and a lot of people decided to stay home and work on their yards. Sunday, though, was a record day for us.”
R. Lee Ermey, the retired Marine drill instructor and actor, was also on hand. “The line was one to two hours deep the entire time he was here.”
A kids’ day promotion on Sunday (with the nearly obligatory SpongeBob SquarePants appearance) was a popular one. Allen says features like those are what brings in people who might not otherwise attend at all.
“I call them ‘fence features,’” he says. “They’re what get people off the fence, people who will say ‘maybe I’ll come out to the auto show.’ Those are the features that get them out.”
“We’ve not found them to be a hugely successful draw,” says Allen. “They do bring in the crowds, but people in line sometimes refuse to leave until they get their stuff autographed. And then they leave. Without seeing the show.”
Still, Allen is willing to experiment with displays and activities that will bring people to see the vehicles.
“They want the autos, but no question – they also want the show.”
Rochester: Hybrids to soap box carsEven as the automotive market in Rochester, N.Y., goes through its challenges, as is the case in many other parts of North America, John Lyboldt is counting his blessings.
“It happened just after 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon,” says Lyboldt, who runs the Rochester International Auto Show. “And no one was on the ramp.”
Besides the freak occurrence resulting in no loss of life or injury, Lyboldt is also happy the April 21 incident happened a number of weeks after his show had wrapped up.
“We were very happy with the show,” he says. “Weather was with us all the way.”
And even though attendance was off slightly from last year, Lyboldt puts things in perspective. “We were coming off three great years – the best years we’ve ever had. You can’t have your best show every year.”
Still, the most recent show did distinguish itself in having three different automotive powertrain technologies being displayed: the “displacement on demand” now adopted by General Motors (and already in use with Chrysler products), the hydrogen fuel cell (as evidenced with GM’s Sequel demonstration vehicle), and, of course, various hybrids entering the market.
The showcasing of technologies gave Lyboldt the opportunity to speak to the media about what was available in the marketplace, further motivating customers looking for what’s new and exciting.
That included five new vehicle introductions and nine 2007 models on display.
While the road-bound cars were what the auto show is all about, another crowd pleaser was this year’s appearance of five championship soap box drivers along with their vehicles, plus educational multimedia displays on how the vehicles were assembled.
“It was a huge draw,” adds Lyboldt.
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
11/3/2017 - 11/5/2017
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Gary Thomas, ATAE Chairman
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Peter Hodges, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor