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.
Mercedes may bring A, B class vehicles to U.S.A shift in demand for more fuel efficient vehicles could see Mercedes-Benz begin exporting its A-class and B-class vehicles to the U.S. Previous plans to do just that were derailed because of a weak U.S. dollar. New versions of the front-wheel-drive subcompacts, due in 2011, will include a small crossover and a coupe, all designed to compete with BMW's 1-series and a future BMW crossover as well as small SUVs from Volkswagen and Audi. An electric car also is expected.
Ford eyeing Europe to bolster U.S. lineupFord's highly praised European product lineup is seen as a way to shore up its U.S. car offerings. As AutoWeek reports, Ford has detailed product plans that include five new vehicles with European roots, including four- and five-door versions of the European Ford Focus (arriving in early 2010), four- and five-door versions of the Ford Fiesta (2010) and a new Mercury small car (also in 2010). The Transit Connect van is expected to arrive stateside next year and a new European vehicle riding on the Fiesta or Focus platform is also expected. Many of the small cars will be built in North America and Ford will retool three of its truck assembly plants for the changes. Ford's plans also include strategies to boost fuel economy with a number of new technologies, including six-speed transmissions, start/stop engines and twin independent variable cam timing. They will be phased in by 2012.
Chrysler picks Gail & Rice for auto show staffing, events
Exhibit Enterprises now simply EEI Global
Chevy to get version of minicar concept
Chrysler to dealers: think 'clearance'Chrysler LLC, which announced the end of its leasing business, is urging its dealers to market its latest sales incentives in much the same way department stores talk about price reductions - the amount discounted off retail. Parts of the new financing options include purchase loans of 72 months on vehicles. The manufacturer says customers can save up to 40 percent on its Ram trucks, 28 percent off Jeep Cherokee and 25 and 24 percent respectively on Aspen and Town & Country minivans. The company is also waiving a lease disposition fee and a lease loyalty incentive for customers that choose to purchase a new vehicle.
GM wants to sell Buick Enclave in ChinaIf the Chinese government gives its okay, General Motors will begin exporting its Buick Enclave luxury crossover beginning this fall. Shanghai GM will import the vehicle to more than 400 Buick dealerships across China. Buick reportedly sold more than 300,000 vehicles to Chinese consumers in 2007.
Comings and GoingsScott Webb has been promoted to assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The 12-year veteran of the show will continue to handle marketing and operations duties, while increasing his role in overall management. Webb "has contributed significantly to the improved quality and growth of the show," said Andy Fuzesi, LA Auto Show general manager.
ASNA Summer Meeting: A Positive Experience for Attendees"An annual meeting of all companies involved with the production and management of auto shows from around the country is essential to the overall growth of the industry," says Mike Gempp, director of the Philadelphia Auto Show, and a member of the 2008 Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) Focus Group Steering Committee. The Annual ASNA Summer Meeting was held July 15-16, 2008 at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.
Tim Peters, assistant director of auto shows for General Motors, says the company felt it was important to be at the summer meetings, notably to "have a conversation about issues important to GM."
Peters adds, "Auto shows compete for dollars geared toward more traditional forms of advertising such as television and radio. With constant pressure to reduce spending, we all must be concerned with controlling costs and providing extensive ROI reports showing how auto shows offer a unique, hands-on shopping experience and access to millions of in-market consumers throughout the year."
One disappointment: that more manufacturers did not attend, something Peters and Haynes hope will turn around as more see the inherent value that comes with being involved in ASNA.
John Sackrison, another member of the ASNA Steering Committee and executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association (OCADA), also felt bringing back the roundtable format proved to be a successful move for the ASNA Summer Meetings.
"We got a lot of positive feedback on having everyone participate in this open forum," Sackrison says. "With tables consisting of shows of every size and sponsors rotating every 40 minutes, participants were able to engage in positive discussions throughout the sessions. Everyone gained valuable feedback on everything from enhancing show marketing and public relations campaigns to controlling costs by creating new streams of show revenue."
It's also one of the initiatives that Holly Riedel says bodes well for the organization as a whole.
Riedel, a third ASNA Steering Committee member and special projects director for the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee (ADAMM), adds, "ASNA is one of those groups that is growing and evolving every year. Our focus now is to seek out better communication with all meeting attendees. Our ongoing goal is to create an atmosphere where all attendees can gather to share information and have an interactive, productive series of meetings."
With dates already set for next year's ASNA Summer Meetings (July 7-8, 2009 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.), Gempp, who is carrying over his responsibilities as a Steering Committee member for the 2009 Summer ASNA meeting, says work is already underway to make the organization even more productive. "More than ever, we're focused on creating value for everyone attending and spreading this message earlier than in the past to grow participation from every level."
Thank you ASNA sponsorsAny event involving accommodation and meeting space undoubtedly calls for resources - internal and external. In the case of the recent Auto Shows of North America Summer Meetings, a number of sponsors were responsible for ensuring that this opportunity continues to be an important one on the annual calendar of auto show executives throughout the U.S. and Canada. Once again, thank you for your continued support. We couldn't have done it without you.
Not already an ASNA sponsor? Contact ATAE's Jennifer Lindsey to find out how you can join the ASNA team.
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Association of International Automobile Manufacturers
Automotive Compliance Center
GES Exposition Services
Gulf States Toyota, Inc.
Motor Trend Auto Shows, Inc.
NADA Used Car Guide
National Convention Service
Newspaper Association of America
Paragon Group Auto Shows
Reynolds & Reynolds
RVDA, the National RV Dealers Association
Time Magazine/Dealer of the Year Award/ the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Atlanta: Tornado couldn't stop auto show from taking offWhile a 200-yard wide tornado just six weeks before this year's Atlanta-Journal Constitution International Auto Show threatened to derail the event due to severe damage to the Georgia World Congress Center, ATAE Shayne Wilson says the event went on as scheduled to rave reviews.
"We had a lot of obstacles in our way producing this show, with a slow economy, record high gas prices, and nearby freeway connector construction," says Wilson, president of the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association, the show's producer. "Despite these odds, we were thrilled with the great public response that we received. The great attendance proves that Atlantans definitely love their new cars, trucks, SUVs and the auto show."
The tornado, which inflicted more than $200 million in damage, at first appeared that it would shutter the convention center indefinitely. Instead, a storm of a different sort hit the Congress Center with the 26th Annual Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show.
"I would like to thank the Georgia World Congress Center for working 24/7 to make the five halls in buildings B & C available for us," says Wilson. "I also thank the automotive manufacturers and dealers for their continued support. They brought in a great selection of new vehicles and industry displays for the show. Included in this vehicle lineup were 35 pre-production vehicles and a dozen concepts."
The show's official Website was also quite busy during the month of April, with over 65,000 unique visitors. Many of these visitors also joined the Official Auto Show Club, which now has a very large fan base.
The show's annual media day, Friday, April 18, brought more than 50 Atlanta area press, who heard keynote speaker Bryan Nesbitt, vice president, Design, GM North America.
Highlights of the show included an appearance by Batman, the new film The Dark Knight giving the Caped Crusader a boost in interest, plus a Wheels of Freestyle bike stunt show that ran all nine days.
Ford brought in two Atlanta Falcon stars during opening weekend, and State Farm Insurance had SpikeTV star Funkmaster Flex in its display on the second Saturday.
General Motors attracted some 1,326 test drives in 30 vehicles during its successful Ride and Drive event. Held during the final four days of the show, the event was said to be one of the company's more successful of the auto show season.
Show organizers also welcomed area high school service tech students for the third consecutive year. These "Star Techs of Tomorrow" were greeted by MAADA trainers Stephen Borders and Gary Long, and then treated to a stunt bike show, pizza and the opportunity of seeing the show before the public opening.
WSB-TV produced and aired their "Channel 2 Auto Show Preview" for the seventh straight year. The initial airing was at 12:30 p.m. on April 12, the week before opening, and the second airing took place at the same time on the show's opening day, April 19. Ratings were said to be great for both of the broadcasts.
CW Atlanta broadcasted its weekly "Auto Scoop" show live from the show floor on two Fridays, with Wilson and colleague Matthew Beard appearing on the shows. CW Atlanta also had a great display area on site for visitors to enjoy.
"We can't say enough about all of the great support that we received from area radio stations this year, with over 76 hours of live broadcasts and remotes from the show floor," says Wilson.
Clear Channel led the charge in the radio broadcasts with Project 961, 94.9 The Bull, Viva 105.7 and E Patron 105.3 taking part. Chris Williams of Project 961 was on site for five straight weekdays with his afternoon drive show. Other stations taking part were KICKS 101.5, V103, Hot 107.9, WGKA 920 AM, 680 The Fan, 790 The Zone, and 97.1 The River.
Columbus: Growing market means continued show successOhio's capital city is more than a government town, although certainly those companies wanting to be in close proximity to the legislative process have been known to call Columbus home.
Add big insurance, health care, Ohio State University and Honda's Marysville plant (30 minutes away) and you begin to get the picture: Columbus is one hopping town.
Those dynamics bode well for the Columbus Auto Show and Show Producer Dan Zinni, an 11-year veteran of the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, which not only runs the Columbus show (held this year March 8-16, 2008) but Toledo and, starting next year, the Dayton Auto Show as well.
"We're probably the only city in Ohio that's growing," says Zinni. "The suburbs have expanded and opportunities for dealers and manufacturers here are countless. It's kept our dealers going and sales are very good in Columbus, what you'd expect when you have a growing population."
With the population growth has come a growing show as well, most notably about four years ago when the Columbus Convention Center leapt from 180,000 square feet to its current 300,000 square feet of space.
"We grew right with that expansion," notes Zinni. "At this point, we sell it all."
The auto show, one of the two biggest events in the convention center (Arnold Schwarzenegger's Arnold Classic is the other), draws from a market of some 1.6 million.
But how about challenges?
This year, it was in the form of snow, something that's rare in Ohio in March, but still possible: 21 inches of "possible" it turns out for 2008, accounting for a 17 percent dip in attendance.
With opening weekend accounting for about 25 percent of the gate, the show recovered somewhat, but the overall impact was still felt.
And no, Zinni doesn't buy Showstopper's insurance.
"History is on our side," he says. "It was the first snow we've had that late in 22 years."
What is much more predictable is the enthusiasm auto show attendees have for anything related to Ohio State football.
"We're an Ohio State Buckeye town," notes Zinni. "This year the Central Ohio Chevrolet Dealers brought in Head Coach Jim Tressel to sign autographs, who has been here several times before. And every time, people are lined up to get this man's autograph."
From an entertainment perspective, musician John Petz made an appearance at the show.
Another highlight of the show was a vehicle raffle in support of March of Dimes, raising $50,000 for the charity.
The show's Charity Preview also aligned this year with March of Dimes; next year, as in the past, a dealer committee will receive presentations from area charities, picking one to support.
Next year, with Zinni and his team mixing things up with a four-day show (a departure from the nine day customary schedule), expectations are for continued success.
"Columbus is where things are happening."
Oklahoma City: New and classic vehicles share the spotlightEverything old is new again.
While new cars and trucks were still front and center for the March 6-9, 2008 event, Hodges discovered just how popular vintage vehicles can be after hosting the Route 66 Auto Show, a collection of classic and antique muscle cars that complemented the traditional displays.
"It's something we now look forward to having on an ongoing basis," says Hodges of the 30,000-square-foot exhibit area. "These are vehicles you would have seen years ago on Route 66, which goes right by Oklahoma City and the state fairgrounds, making it more than appropriate."
"It was a big hit," says Hodges of the Sprint exhibit, noting that both it and the Toyota features were next to one another.
Other outdoor events included a display by Gore Tex and a "coupon grab" feature sponsored by Long John Silver's.
"For some reason, that weekend is the beginning of mild weather," he says. "We've gotten past the threat of snow or ice and we're between where it gets to be the first really nice weather and people are going to go to the lake. That helps bring people to the auto show."
This year's event, says Hodges, was just about perfect from a display standpoint as well.
"We had everything: the 2008 cars and trucks as well as 2009 vehicles and concepts. Plus there was the first time exotic card display. We touched on just about everything automotive."
Other show highlights included a Fast Fun Zone with skateboarding shows and a Hot Wheels giveaway (the first 250 kids were eligible to receive a toy car).
On a safety theme, sponsor Safe Kids Oklahoma fitted 300 children age 6 to 12 years old with a free Bell bike helmet.
The Boy Scouts also got in the picture, holding its Pinewood Derby competition, another repeat attraction for Oklahoma City.
Hodges says appearances by celebrities, particularly those connected with the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team, work for the event. Hence, showings by running back Alan Patrick and former tight end Joe Jon Finley.
Which is not to say Hodges doesn't see the vehicles being the primary draw.
"Our surveys continue to show that people come for the new cars," he says. "But we believe in creating a fun experience for the family; while they're here shopping for a vehicle, it's important that it be the most positive, fun experience we can deliver."
That means appealing to the repeat visitors, those who often make their way to new car dealers after spending a few hours at the auto show.
Hodges says the dealer organization works hard to add value to the overall consumer experience, which includes the organization's own car buying Web site - www.driveokc.com.
Other promotional efforts associated with the auto show include the distribution of discount coupons, notably through Allstate offices, Sprint phone dealers and the regional Love's Convenience Store chain.
And Hodges also continues to build an impressive database of opt-in e-mails as well, something he uses to encourage show goers to keep returning, year after year.
"And they do."
Pittsburgh: Success, yes, but it's back to February in 2009When the Pittsburgh Auto Show was forced to move its dates forward, the result of a structural mishap last year at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, ATAE Denise Brennan thought she had a permanent shift in calendar on her hands.
But then the dealership group that owns the show - the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association - began hearing from its members, many of whom remembered the bump in sales that resulted from its February dates.
"The reality is that the majority of our members wanted to go back to February," says Brennan. "It's a tradition in our market and it's something that most continue to value."
The transition will mean a four-day show in 2009, followed by a nine-day event in 2010. But dates aren't the only things new with the Pittsburgh Auto Show.
Her approach: "What can you bring to the show?"
"We asked them to think outside the box, be creative," says Brennan, who took the game plan proposed and ran with it.
The result: the local Fox Sports Network affiliate bringing TVs and recliners for one corner of the convention center; sports fans (the Penguins were in the playoffs) could take a comfortable break from checking out all the industry had in the latest vehicles.
On an attendance basis, this year's show was up slightly over the previous year. And even though the show has traditionally been nine days (five days during the last two years), Brennan says things even out when you do the comparison.
"You do try to cram a lot more in for the time you have, but expenses are less as well."
Other features included Harley-Davidson's traveling museum and a demonstration by the local SWAT team, which brought in a robotic bomb squad.
Show organizers also brought in entertainment in the form of a band.
Other highlights of the show included a Charity Gala, which with the new dates was held mid-week. "We'll go back to the Preview in 2010," says Brennan, pointing out that the mission of helping Family House, which supports comfortable, affordable surroundings for families of patients undergoing specialized hospital treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, and other hospitals in the Pittsburgh area continues.
"We had it on the upper level of the convention center, taking advantage of a skywalk that looks down on the show floor," says Brennan. "It was a unique atmosphere."
Brennan is already promoting next year's February show, to be held Feb. 12-15, 2009.
"We're excited given that it's going to be over Valentine's Day, so we decided to spin it in that direction, try to have some fun and include it in our Gala theme."
Richmond: Decision to use Motor Trend name was strategicSome 15 years ago, when the dealership group in Richmond, Va., decided to dramatically expand the scope and reach of the city's auto show (a multi-franchise member had hosted a version for several years previously), organizers knew they would need to underscore the difference to their market.
"We needed to make the point that the show wasn't about any one dealer or franchise," says Michael Allen, director of public affairs for the Greater Richmond New Car Dealers Association, in explaining how the name "Motor Trend" became part of the auto show's official name. "When we made the transition, there was still that perception, even though it wasn't a selling show."
Bingo. "We tried it and not only did comp tickets increase but paid sales went up as well," says Allen. "By distributing comp tickets through charitable organizations such as the Boy Scouts, we generated significant buzz. And word of mouth goes a long way."
Another strategic initiative was increasing the marketing budget by 10 percent, plus adding another media partner, Comcast Spotlight.
The third leg on the strategic stool to increase the show's success was to bring in more concept vehicles, even at the expense of setting aside non-automotive related features.
"We had a number of SEMA-type vehicles we were able to show," notes Allen, who adds that Motor Trend's "Green Mile" feature with its collection of gas-sippng vehicles.
"It was the only feature that we really brought in from Motor Trend," says Allen, although he did take advantage of a free subscription promotion, with some 4,800 show goers signing up.
"Any other features are just not as big of a draw," says Allen. "We've tried everything: professional wrestlers and TV personalities for auto programs. Even bringing in NASCAR drivers, and we're a big NASCAR market, had no impact on attendance."
What Allen has come to trust is survey results, which show 40 to 50 percent of show goers want to see concepts.
"We'll be doing more and more of that next year," he notes, adding that additional features related to fuel economy are likely to continue to be of interest.
Spokane: Selling show has strong dealer, manufacturer supportTalk to enough auto show producers throughout North America and one thing keeps coming up again and again: markets are different.
"It's always been that way," notes Kip Nedved, whose Nedved Advertising has been producing the Spokane International Auto Show for the last 15 years. "Every dealership participates and the factory participation in the show has grown considerably over the years."
Indeed, some 75 percent of manufacturers have a direct involvement in the event, which was held Feb. 15-18, 2008.
A show highlight is the VIP "by invitation only" preview celebration that has become a major social event for the city. And dealers, who hand pick those to be invited, have reason to celebrate.
"The show marks the end of a long winter season for dealers," says Nedved, who started his company in 1973 and took over when the former producer of the event died suddenly. "It's the switch that turns on the interest of consumers. We see a big surge in traffic into dealerships virtually overnight."
While the event is one where dealers roll up their sleeves to move product, the approach is key to the success of the auto show.
"It's a big part of what makes it work," says Nedved. "It's more subtle than it might seem; consumers are simply given an opportunity to buy the vehicle that's of interest to them. It doesn't happen right at the show, but there's a very seamless hand-off from the show to the dealership showroom."
"We have a primary relationship with one of the local TV network affiliates every year," says Nedved. "They partner with us on the VIP party and they offer a tremendous number of spots."
There's a similar relationship carved out with the newspaper. And while the print media is not the "major" sponsor, that is a possible change being discussed.
"Portland has a very tight relationship with the local newspaper," says Nedved. "It's something we're talking about here."
Nedved manages a "pretty strong" budget for the entire auto show, which helped deliver for the dealership group.
"It was a really good show," says Nedved. "Everything just clicked."
And while attendance was off slightly, it was still the second or third best year ever.
Looking ahead, Nedved says future changes are likely to be more subtle than dramatic.
"It's probably more a question of tweaking things," says Nedved, who points out that a layout with GM at one end of the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds and Toyota at the other works well. "We have two strong poles at both ends of the facility."
Toledo: 'Hard-core' car city driven to succeedThe cities may be just two and one half hours away by car, but Toledo and Columbus - Ohio's capital city - are worlds apart, according to ATAE Dan Zinni, who produces both shows.
It's also a dramatically smaller show, squeezed into the 60,000 square feet of the Seagate Center, this year from Jan. 24-27, 2008.
"It's almost claustrophobic," says Zinni, accustomed to walking vast distances in Columbus. "In Toledo, it's just a few steps to see most things."
Zinni credits manufacturers for their skill in designing and assembling high quality displays that work in a small venue like Toledo. "They, on the other hand, are very pleased with the attendance they get."
And that's for a show that is just an hour south of Detroit, at a time when both shows have calendar overlap (the North American International Auto Show finished on the same day as Toledo).
"Our visitors want to touch and feel the product," he says, in essence explaining how Toledo is able to attract a different clientele than its Michigan neighbor. "Detroit will get everything. But this is a buyer's show, one where you're able to get in and out of all the cars you're going to see at dealerships in the weeks and months ahead. It's an intimate feel."
A show highlight included a contest where show goers were asked to identify a "junked" car, one that had been crushed and brought into the Seagate Center expressly for the purposes of the event.
"They went to a computer terminal and registered, giving us their guess for what the vehicle was," explains Zinni. "It was a great contest, the winner getting a big screen TV."
When the time came for contestants to try their key in the vehicle, it was the first contestant who won.
Show goers also enjoyed seeing former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, who competed in the Craftsman truck series.
Another highlight of the Greater Toledo Auto Show is the preview party, which raises $140,000 for local charities. Zinni credits dealers and sponsors for making the $2,500 a table event such a success.
"It's just fantastic."
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/3/2009 - 4/5/2009
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Kevin Mazzucola, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
ASNA Focus Group Steering Committee
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor