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Introducing the Canadian Auto Show Managers AssociationA group of auto show managers in Canada has organized in an effort to simplify and standardize on issues of common interest, says its chair.
Bob Vilas, who runs the Edmonton Motor Show, says the Canadian Auto Show Managers Association, which had its inaugural meeting on June 1, has already made progress in one area - raised flooring.
"It's a safety issue with many shows," says Vilas. "And there are legal aspects as well. We felt it would be desirable to have a uniform policy for the seven Canadian shows and we've been able to do that."
The result, he says, will be manufacturers and exhibit houses knowing in advance what can be constructed in the show halls.
"It eases the burden for manufacturers, knowing what's going to be allowed," says Vilas.
CASMA members - show managers for Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City as well as Edmonton - are working on the development of a national career pathways exhibit that will promote opportunities for young people attending auto shows.
"It's something that's definitely overdue, says Vilas.
Germans may use Daimler name in deal with Ford's JaguarInteresting. Very interesting. It seems that Ford, through its Jaguar brand, actually owns the rights to the Daimler name, at least as far as vehicles are concerned. Reports, including one in Automotive News, suggest that DaimlerChrysler, but now without the Chrysler, has made a deal, details undisclosed, to use Daimler AG as the company's new moniker. How could such a thing happen? Jaguar acquired the name Daimler AG in 1960 when it bought the British subsidiary set up by auto pioneer Gottfried Daimler in 1896. Today the Daimler badge still appears on some high-end versions of Jaguar cars and Ford's luxury division, part of its Premier Automotive Group.
Ford offers hint of future small cars
H.B. Stubbs will manage major Chrysler auto showsH.B. Stubbs Companies has been awarded the Chrysler Group contract for program management in support of all "A and B" level auto shows across the United States. In addition to auto shows, Stubbs was awarded three Track Events: Jeep 101 Course and Dodge SRT Washington D.C. and Cleveland, and Jeep 101 Course in Miami. "We have strong experience in the automotive arena," said Donald Mascot, vice president of account development at H.B. Stubbs. "We are eager to apply our experience and continue to work with Chrysler to develop and implement innovative and cost effective marketing programs."
Albuquerque: Building relationships with next generation a key strengthFour years into the New Mexico International Auto Show, Charles Henson remains enthusiastic about the future - and just as passionate as ever about the positive role the event plays in the future of young people.
The emphasis is evident in at least two areas, one being the positive relationship the Motor Trend-produced show has developed with Boy Scouts of America.
"We're very proud of the relationship we have with the Boy Scouts," says Henson.
In keeping with the race theme, albeit on a slightly larger scale, the show has continued featuring a Kids Autobahn, with 10 small battery powered cars that are donated to local children's charities following the event.
"We have a course set up right at the show and the kids can drive the cars," says Henson.
Another way of helping young people is the ongoing commitment by show organizers to deliver a strong "alcohol and cars don't mix" message.
"It's something we're going to continue to deliver with every opportunity we have," says Henson, who is both passionate about the issue and adamant about the negative effects of drinking and driving , so much so that he states: "It's never an accident where alcohol is involved."
Among the changes Henson has seen over the four years of the New Mexico show, a steady growth in attendance is among the most notable.
"Motor Trend, the local association and the manufacturers have all worked very hard towards building exposure for the event," says Henson.
And people are noticing.
"We're now the largest attended event at the Albuquerque Convention Center," he says. "The city has not seen a show of this caliber before. Remember, four years ago, we hadn't had an auto show in our city for more than 30 years."
Was it an uphill struggle to get the show up and running? Henson says timing was on the side of the organizers.
"It wasn't difficult to get manufacturers on board," he says. "When you look at the demographics of this year, it's clear that we have a growing market that was ready and deserving of a show of this type."
Indeed, in the early years of the show, even the most astute planners may have underestimated the interest and subsequent attendance.
"We had expected a strong attendance but even then, it was overwhelming," says Henson. "And we've had greater success for each show since then."
Henson says interest in the show and the support received for the event has been encouraging, perhaps because of the way show organizers have sought to create win-win relationships.
"This show has become that type of vehicle within our community," he says. "We're working to help our dealers with their needs, but we're also keeping in mind that we have an obligation to the community to support their needs as well, something we've been able to do from a charitable perspective."
Henson says a new charity preview event this year was seeded with $10,000 from the dealer association; the upcoming show will see the featured charity - Juvenile Diabetes - carry on for a second year but with 70 percent of the proceeds, the remaining 30 percent going to a new charity. In year three, the new charity will get bumped up to 70 percent, with another new recipient being added to the mix.
"We think that's a great way to help multiple charities while giving them some degree of continuity," says Henson.
Columbus: Big names continue to draw crowdsFor organizers of the Columbus International Auto Show, luring attendees to Ohio's capital city has always included giving them what they want - big names.
"People waited in line for hours to see him," says Nikki Bragg, auto show manager. "He's a very popular guy in the area."
With attendance up slightly over last year, Bragg says the strategy appears to be working.
The blitz, says Bragg, begins a couple of weeks in advance of the auto show.
Advertising and public relations efforts will extend beyond the Columbus area to perhaps an hour's drive away.
The auto show includes an annual preview party opening with cocktail reception for invited guests.
Funds raised this year - about$30,000 - went to Easter Seals of Central Ohio. A different charity is selected every year, with past recipients having included the Childhood League, Canine Companions for Independence and Recreation Unlimited.
"We let them all play," laughs Bragg.
Other features of the show include a three-point shootout, where local high schools compete for scholarships and a "Cubed Car" contest that has people guessing the make, model and year of a vehicle crushed to 3-foot by 3-foot dimensions.
"We make the mileage a tie-breaker," says Bragg. "Because believe it or not, more than one person will guess the vehicle."
The winner gets a very nice - and completely uncrushed - TV.
Edmonton: Getting ready for future expansion, test drivesAhh, those pesky building projects.
In Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, where the economy of the oil-rich Canadian province is burning hot, the home of the Edmonton Motor Show is undergoing a major expansion.
For the most recent show, having three home games for the ever-popular NHL Edmonton Oilers didn't help attendance, the impact being felt in the amount of parking space available for the auto show.
Even so, Vilas says attendance was off this year by just 3 percent, all things considered not a bad run. But Vilas' eyes are on the future: in 2009, the show will gain an additional 60,000 square feet (it now has 245,000 at the Northlands AgriCom facility) and the following year some 500,000 square feet of space will be at his disposal--and all under one roof.
Vilas says he manufacturers may sign up for as much as 340,000 of that space, leaving a good bit of room for auto related exhibits, such as one dedicated to showcasing aftermarket offerings.
Indeed, Vilas is already taking steps to move in that direction, with next year's planned showcasing of 25 cars in five customizing categories: Big SUVs, hot rods, sport compacts, muscle cars, and modified exotics.
Last year, the Edmonton show had hoped to introduce a significant innovation when it came to providing test drive opportunities for attendees, a system that would accept instant bookings and see their choice of vehicle pull up for what Vilas sees as a logical next step in the sales process.
"People are at the show because they're in the market for a vehicle," says Vilas. "If we can help them by getting them into a car, it will make it that much easier for our dealer members."
While the system worked well, Vilas and his staff encountered what he expects will be a temporary hurdle - the insurance factor.
Specifically, at least some manufacturers wanted test drive vehicles to come from dealer stock and with deductibles typically at the $20,000, the "instant test drive" concept was effectively stalled.
Although Vilas has found a way to solve the problem in the future, all was not lost for this season's show, organizers being able to showcase the technology and accept bookings for dealer test drives within hours of someone attending the show. About 800 show goers took advantage of the opportunity.
The technology being employed by Edmonton includes text messaging of consumers who, in the future, would be free to roam the rest of the show until their choice of vehicle was ready for the test drive.
Vilas is still holding out hope for a full introduction of the test drive program at next year's show, although the building he's eyeing for the event is currently scheduled for demolition. "If we don't do it next year, it will happen for sure in 2009."
When that arrives, Vilas believes the idea will take off elsewhere. "It's the last missing factor from the auto show. I think most auto shows will be looking at it in the future.
Other highlight of this year's show included Toyota's very successful Off-Road On-Site Adventure, located in prime space just outside the main doors of the hall.
"It was the year of the technology," says Vilas, referring to a plethora of systems designed to offer customer convenience, among them those that allow a vehicle to "self park" or provide turn-by-turn navigation as well as integration with cell phones or other mobile devices (seen in the Sync technology introduced by Ford and Microsoft).
The money the show raises is being invested in education programs that will ultimately help those looking for a career in automotive and the industry itself.
"We gave out 153 scholarships last year, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500," says Vilas. Students benefiting were enrolled in a variety of programs, including those considering careers as automotive service or body shop technicians.
Additionally, the dealer association supports a grade 10-11 program one that allows registrants to alternate between classroom and work, entering a second year apprenticeship on completion of high school.
New Orleans: Momentum builds in post-Katrina worldJeffrie Schultiss Fricke, the powerhouse behind the New Orleans International Auto Show, having raised the event post-Katrina just a few weeks after the devastating floods, remains optimistic about the future of the show.
But Schultiss Fricke, who is hard at work organizing the 2008 event, says the auto show has adapted through the challenging times.
"We do have a lot of space there," says Schultiss Fricke. "It's allowed us to put on some very nice displays, including classic cars, antique cars, racing cars, and monster trucks."
"It's good for New Orleans, having heads in beds," says Schultiss Fricke. "But we're taking advantage of being able to be in the convention center through 2010."
For the second year in a row, the auto show has been able to employ college students to assist with manufacturer representatives on Sunday, when Louisiana law forbids dealership salespeople from working (previous pre-Katrina shows weren't open on Sundays at all).
A $25,000 giveaway toward the purchase of a new car was one way the auto show was able to build interest in the event. Marketing targeted communities within 100 miles of the city, a five-parish area which is now considered part of the New Orleans market, many of the people being connected to the area but temporarily having moved away.
"People are coming back," stresses Schultiss Fricke. "We had a strong increase in attendance and from a business perspective, dealers are moving back into their regular sales cycles," who adds that she’s particularly pleased with how automakers were able to help staff displays in light of the shortage of labor at the dealership level.
Schultiss Fricke remains optimistic about the future of the area, and with good reason: Donald Trump is investing in a highrise hotel and condo development with other investments in a rebuilt city on or over the horizon.
"We may look different but we're maintaining the culture and what everyone loves about New Orleans," says Schultiss Fricke. "And we want people to visit. That's how we're going to grow again."
Toledo: Smaller show offers personal feel, lots of interactionIt may be only a quarter of the size of the larger Columbus International Auto Show, but an event organized by the Toledo Automobile Dealers Association is no less important in giving prospective car buyers what they want.
"Dealers send their salespeople to the show and combined with the product specialists, it's a great opportunity for people to get all the information they need for any vehicle," says Bragg.
It's been four years since the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association took over the Toledo dealer group (on the retirement of Clay Hepler) and Bragg has been at the helm ever since. Attendance the first year jumped dramatically, but then dipped thanks to Super Bowl Sunday. This year the auto show posted a 28 percent increase in attendance.
"We're doing our best to bring in concept cars and to continue to build manufacturer and dealer support for the show," says Bragg. One recent strategy was the giveaway of a two-year lease on a Mercury Milan, something that wasn't done in Columbus.
On the other hand, some events are seemingly "borrowed" from Toledo's sister Ohio city, notably the Cubed Car contest (see the profile on the Columbus show in this issue) and a charity gala preview that raised funds for St. Luke's Hospital, American Red Cross, Assistance Dogs of America and the scholarship program of Auto Dealers United For Kids.
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/4/2008 - 4/6/2008
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
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Denise Brennan, ATAE Chairman
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The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor
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