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’s Street Performance Pavilion targets younger crowd
NA Car/Truck of the Year finalists announced
Tuner Car Salon returns to PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia International Auto Show will again host a Tuner Car Salon at its 2006 event. “Last year was the inaugural year for this salon at our show and it was a huge hit with attendees,” says Mike Gempp, show director. "We are dedicated to showcasing the hottest trends in the auto industry. That being said, we knew we had to bring it back.” In the Tuner Car Salon, auto show attendees will be introduced to a variety of manufacturers' tuner cars, as well as customized vehicles displayed by DUB magazine and owned by local and national celebrities.
ICOTY Awards celebrate ‘emotional connection’Think the International Car of the Year awards program is beginning to look a lot like the Academy Awards? So does Courtney Caldwell, founder and editor-in-chief of Road & Travel Magazine.
And that’s a good thing.
Recognizing the need for a “total celebration of cars and all the hard work that goes into designing them,” Caldwell and her team at Road & Travel Magazine, now an online-only publication, first launched the ICOTY awards from quarters in Detroit’s Cobo Center.
“The first year it was nothing more than a mid-day event, with maybe 100 people and coffee and donuts,” says Caldwell.
A decade later, it’s firmly ensconced a block away at Detroit’s Marriott at Renaissance Center — with high-profile attendance deserving of the industry’s attention. And it gets it.
“It’s certainly become known as the ‘academy of cars’,” says Caldwell.
Indeed, the event, scheduled for Jan. 7, 2006, will be taped by CBS Detroit, with the network airing the coverage as a special on Jan. 14, 2006 from 6-7 pm.
The evening will include, as it has in past years, the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement award, this year to David E. Davis Jr., the veteran automotive journalist whose 40-plus years in the business have included stints at Road & Track, Car and Driver, followed by the launch of Automobile magazine in 2000 (he’s still listed as founder and editor emeritus and remains editorial director of Motor Trend, whose Primedia parent also owns Automobile). DaimlerChrysler is sponsoring the award.
From Caldwell’s perspective, the ICOTY awards are distinctive for more reasons than the glitz and glamour that the night brings.
“We’re the only awards program that acknowledges the emotional connection between consumers and the vehicles we honor,” says Caldwell. “It’s not, for example, ‘Sports Car’ but ‘Sports Car: Most Sex Appeal.’”
The ICOTY awards board includes six men and six women – experienced journalists from automotive publications who serve indefinitely while active in covering the industry. J.D. Power and Associates tabulates all final ballots.
Trouble juggling the details? GES keeps ‘em in the airGetting it done.
When it comes to large, complex and all-so-detail-intensive events such auto shows, Denise Martin says you’d be hard pressed to find a better “official services contractor” than GES. And Martin, who works as GES’ senior director, national accounts and a longstanding sponsor of Auto Shows of North America, should know.
After all, the veteran of auto shows (she began her career at Liberty Productions, Motor Trend Auto Shows’ predecessor) is on top of her competition — and she and GES even work side by side with some of them on projects such as the LA and Houston auto shows.
The company’s strong suit? Basically, it does it all.
If that sounds like keeping more than a few balls in the air, consider Martin the consummate juggler.
Besides handling 13 of the auto show events under the Motor Trend banner, Martin and GES are also (even in early December) moving in for early January’s mammoth Consumer Electronics Show.
And GES also handles registration areas, provides electrical services, and even does corporate and special events. Plus exhibit design services, too.
“We have designers here that can do everything from modular to very elaborate custom exhibits,” says Martin, who is based in Las Vegas but travels extensively.
“I travel with them for about six months of the year,” says Martin, referring to people she considers as much friends as clients.
During that time, Martin and her teams at GES are doing that juggling act — keeping details in order. And at the risk of mixing metaphors, she continues to ensure (like the orchestra leader she seems to be) that all notes are played in tune and in order.
“We have an unbelievable team across the country,” says Martin. “These are people who are very experienced in the trade show business and I find myself bragging about them; we have employees who’ve been here 20 and 30 years — and that’s in every city. It’s one of the things that really sets us apart.”
Still, while it remains a highly-competitive arena, it’s one in which Martin remains eager to play.
“It is a bid process,” she acknowledges. “And we put together some very good competitive bids for our services.”
At the same time, Martin will point out the familiarity with an event (and the producers) that typically keeps the relationship — and the business — going.
“There’s a great deal of consistency that comes into play when we’re involved in a show,” says Martin. “It’s knowing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it needs to be done that all has to come together. We know the shows backwards and forwards and we’ve built a very good ability to connect with everyone involved in that process.”
Martin is hardly saying life is perfect. Or that no one ever complains.
But when it comes to living up to being a company of integrity — one of the company’s stated core values — how GES does its work is key.
“It’s doing what you say you’re going to do,” says Martin. “We’re always going to be honest with our clients.”
Martin points to how GES was able to help its auto show clients — and exhibiting manufacturers — concerned about rising costs of drayage (the handling of freight, which makes up the bulk of revenue to a company like GES).
“It’s a hot button issue for many shows and the manufacturers,” says Martin. “They came to us with some concerns, and asked us: ‘what can you do for us?’ At that point, GES became even more of a partner than we were before as we looked for new and innovative ways to lower our costs, which ultimately end up costing the client. And we’ve made a lot of progress in that area.”
As GES began to communicate the intricacies and individual requirements of the various exhibiting venues in which it works, a way to effectively reduce or better manage drayage costs began to emerge.
The effect, says Martin, was to strengthen an already solid relationship with her company’s clients.
“It’s not that the relationship wasn’t secure to begin with,” she says. “But in the long run, it tightened the relationship because we were able to listen and look for ways to help reduce the overall costs of the service, often by redefining the service in ways that make more sense to all concerned.”
As Martin explains, simple yet important considerations, such as whether a conference center facility can allow for storage of crates (or the material has to be moved off site quickly and usually expensively) come into play.
“The difference in labor — straight time labor or overtime — can be staggering.”
Even so, Martin is careful to point out that the discussion wasn’t all about rates. “What really worked was the fact that we began talking and offering other options. That made the difference.”
As another auto show season unfolds, Martin says GES will continue doing what it’s always done, providing outstanding service to its clients. And having fun in the process.
Boston: Tricked out cars drive attendanceBarbara Pudney, of Paragon Group, which produces Boston’s New England International Auto Show, has a problem not uncommon in other show venues - insufficient space.
Yet the challenge remains: looking for a feature that would continue to draw interest, and people, to the show.
The solution: the show’s “Tricked Out Car” contest, which used outdoor space that had the added benefit of being visible from the nearby highway and transit stop. Pudney was also able to promote the contest through a local radio station, generating even more interest for the auto show as a result.
Still, the show’s biggest feature remains the show’s debut of Camp Jeep, the extremely popular hands-on experience that had crowds lining up to take their turn at putting the new Jeep Commander through its paces.
Besides the Commander, the automaker brought the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty to its “Trail-Rated” course, which takes five days to construct (from 5,700 cubic feet of dirt and wood chips). The 465-foot Jeep course took nearly five minutes to complete.
Chrysler Group representatives say the average consumer spends 41 minutes at a Camp Jeep display, nearly four times more than the average at other auto show displays.
Pudney says the event was a huge success.
The show also included a couple of additional Chrysler-related features: a “fountain lady,” a statue that unexpectedly comes to life, and a muscle car giveaway in the form of the new Dodge Charger.
With the car giveaway, dubbed “muscle power,” contestants were selected from daily entries and then given the chance to hit a “high-striker” to win the vehicle or bring a designated hitter.
The winner brought her boyfriend.
Charlotte: Media push gives show a boost“The best we’ve ever had.” The words are from Dick Lewis, director of the Charlotte International Auto Show. But he’s not talking attendance (although that was up from a year ago). Lewis is talking about media support. And it was no accident.
“About four months before the show, we hosted a luncheon meeting and invited our media partners,” says Lewis, describing the by-invitation event that effectively served as a “help us/help you” pitch.
“We talked about the importance of the media partnering with the auto show — with ‘partner’ being the key point,” says Lewis. “The message was that the media has an interest in the event; there’s a good deal of revenue that comes from the auto industry, including dealers, and we need more support from them.”
Clearly, the message was received.
“Each of the TV stations in the market produced live remotes at the show, plus they taped portions of the show during all four days. It was very significant.”
The media support included good coverage from newspapers as well, including the Hispanic newspaper, which serves a rapidly expanding market.
The idea, notably, came from Lewis attending the Auto Shows of North America Summer Meeting, where keynote speaker Dutch Mandel, editor and associate publisher of AutoWeek, urged auto show directors to team up with media for local support.
“We came back and did just that,” says Lewis.
And while he isn’t discounting the drawing power that comes with celebrities like daytime star Bree Williamson, of ABC’s “One Life to Live” (part of that successful media push), Lewis does point out the lure of the vehicles themselves. “People still come to see the cars.”
And the trucks.
Another notable idea Lewis continues to use to make the Charlotte show as good as it can get is the development of the show program. In this case, the recipe is rather simple: buy the best you can get – even if it’s from someone else.
Lewis is referring to what is now a standard operating procedure at Charlotte — the purchase of the Crain Communications-produced show program from the North American International Auto Show. With it, he says, ad space can be sold and editorial customized for the show.
“It gives us a quality buyer’s guide,” says Lewis. “And it makes money for the show.”
Additional show innovations included what has to be the ultimate answer to the statement: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Indeed, Lewis and his staff did just that — free lunch to paid attendees (mostly office workers in the banking-heavy downtown Charlotte core) on the otherwise lighter than usual Thursday and Friday of the show.
The sum result?
Lewis says a doubling of support from the show’s media partners were key to a modest increase (3 percent) in show attendance.
Hartford: Looking forward to larger facilityWith its tried-and-true emphasis on “what’s new in vehicles,” this season’s Connecticut International Auto Show continued to draw crowds from the area, including host city Hartford.
But for Ed Isenberg, executive secretary of the Greater Hartford Automobile Dealers Association (GHADA), the likelihood of an even bigger show is just on the horizon: “next year.” In 2006 the show moves from the Connecticut Expo Center to the new Connecticut Convention Center, nearly doubling the available space.
For this year’s show, Isenberg, who is also show director, continued to use a broad mix of advertising media, including TV and radio, plus a special section in Hartford magazine, one of the area’s most widely-read publications. And with a front-cover feature on the event, the magazine was distributed free at the show.
Inside the Connecticut Expo Center, show goers were able to do just what Isenberg and his staff promised: peruse hundreds of 2006 models from some 33 manufacturers, all under one roof.
Helping the attendees were representatives from the 70 members of the Greater Hartford Automobile Dealers Association.
“We’re not a selling show, but salespeople were able to get names and give out cards,” says Isenberg. “It was a good time for them to connect with people who are in the market.”
And next year? Isenberg expects even greater things for the Connecticut International Auto Show.
“With the new convention facility and a new 400-room Marriott right next door, we’re definitely poised to make a bigger impact than ever before.”
Miami: Power restored just in time for showWeather. It’s a fact of life for more than a few auto shows out there and the impacts of meteorological phenomena can and do impact attendance. Still, it’s rare that the weather would threaten to cancel an entire event.
Hurricane Wilma did just that in Miami, although for Cliff Ray, auto show coordinator for the South Florida International Auto Show, it was, happily, a close call and not the end of the Nov. 4-13 event.
With the storm hitting Florida on Oct. 25, time was on the side of the auto show.
“It was far enough in advance to help things,” says Ray. “After a few days the power starting coming back up and one of the first to be restored was the Miami Beach Convention Center, site of the show.”
As the dates of the show neared, Ray says the worry about “show/no show” subsided.
“We knew we’d have a show. The question was really how we’d do on attendance.”
The answer: not bad.
“We were only slightly down this year,” says Ray, who added that getting the word out was the biggest challenge.
“As the show went on and more and more people had their power restored, the attendance built as well.”
Ray says there’s a precedent for a solidly attended show and hurricanes: 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, where the auto show enjoyed record attendance just a month after the storm.
“People are looking for a reason to get out,” Ray theorizes. “We give them a reason.”
The show itself included a number of features that play to the affluence of the area, one of the strongest car-buying markets in the nation, especially for luxury brands such as Lexus and Infiniti.
As Ray also points out, having one of the largest shows at the beginning of the new car season and in a part of the country where people begin to flock due to warmer weather all contribute to a successful South Florida International Auto Show.
The show enjoyed the worldwide introduction of the 2007 Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Along with its share of hybrid vehicles to display, South Florida organizers took the increasingly popular technology one step further: they held a seminar for firefighters thirsty for first-hand knowledge in how to tackle what could, after all, amount to both an electrical and gasoline fire — simultaneously.
“People from both Honda and Toyota were able to give the firefighters some valuable insights into what to expect and what they needed to do in the event of an emergency involving the hybrid technology,” says Ray.
Other highlights included a Million Dollar Alley (featuring offerings by Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati and others), a Car Boutique (with a variety of aftermarket items) and a classic car Memory Lane.
Sacramento: Benefits from charitable support, aisle-free layoutStacey Castle may not be the first show producer to have discovered a great source of untapped floor space. Let’s just call her the first to have mentioned it to The Auto Show Report.
“We kicked out the aisles,” explained Castle, who is executive director of the Central Valley New Car Dealers Association, and runs the Sacramento International Auto Show. “The result was people could no longer choose to pass by any of the displays. They were forced to walk through all the manufacturer areas, which of course increased their exposure to everyone’s product.”
And according to Castle, the product at the Sacramento show had never looked better. “Eliminating the aisles created more workable space on our floor plan,” she says. “The manufacturers sent much larger displays, giving the show an entirely new look and feel. We got great feedback from absolutely everyone. The manufacturers, product specialists, and dealers all concurred that the show had reached a whole new level.”
Castle is the first to acknowledge that the aisle-less idea may not be suitable for every venue. “But if the safety issues can be worked out, you gain a lot of space in the process.”
Indeed, the Sacramento show was sold out — again — even with the increased space produced by the new floor plan. This was good news for the local charities the auto show supports, as all proceeds go to Sacramento-area causes with contributions totaling more than one million dollars in the last half decade.
Castle made further changes to this year’s show with the marketing of themed areas, dropping in the process the traditional 10-foot by 10-foot spaces. The move, she says, which included grouping similar product categories, gave the overall show floor a better flow as far as traffic was concerned.
“It was a better way for people to interact with the product and got us away from feeling like they were in a shopping mall.”
Also new this year for Sacramento, Castle was able to get a variety of vehicles that had been shown at SEMA just a few days earlier in Las Vegas.
That “giving back” idea took on new legs when Castle’s research during last year’s show revealed a lack of awareness around the association’s reinvestment of show dollars into the community, which takes the form of scholarships to high school and college students, support of various children’s causes, plus the development of a rolling “lending library” of high-tech automotive tools to area high schools and community colleges.
“As far as we’re aware, our mobile automotive laboratory is the only one of its kind in the nation,” says Castle.
Castle says the Sacramento show is on a “hot growth” track.
“Manufacturers are supporting us more and more and dealers are with us every step of the way. And they’re happy to be turning those efforts into help for the charities we support.”
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
John Lyboldt, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Todd Leutheuser, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor