Has the Auto Expo elevated itself to a higher plane?
In many ways SIAM has redeemed itself. We all expected the Auto Expo to fail in its capacity to organize even a reasonably well run motor show. To our surprise and eventual delight, Auto Expo operated like a well run machine. There were the occasional niggles and hiccups but nothing that seriously tarnished its image like the 2012 debacle. Over the two days spent doodling through the stalls meeting manufacturers and observing the plans and products for the next couple of years I took notes. This is what they mostly say
1. Shorten the time allocated for press conferences. Keep it down to ten minutes instead of the twenty. This forces the manufacturers to get to the point quickly. Maruti Suzuki, the first press conference of the day involved a song and dance routine, obviously means they had more time on their hands than was necessary. The media would appreciate getting to the point ASAP, our time is just as precious as yours. Song and dance is good for the public days but we appreciate not hurting our eardrums.
2. It may suit your purposes to give Maruti the honor of opening up every motor show with the first press conference of the day. And its a nice gesture to the oldest indigenous and India's most successful manufacturer. But then also ensure they are the first hall everyone has to visit and subsequently every other presser is travelled to in one direction alone, forward. We dislike walking around in a maze, we know formal footwear hurt and that corporate types wear them everyday, but that is no excuse to make us walk kilometres on the one day when we wear them too.
3. Lower the decibel levels within the halls, especially within the two-wheeler halls. This isn't the Ram Leela neither is it the war of the DJs. And while it may be fun and hilarious on occasion to watch the chaps at Honda stare daggers at the Harley Davidson stall its a damn sight unprofessional for either to behave like absolute juveniles. My equipment is louder than yours just does not have to apply in this case especially when there are a dozen manufacturers in the same space and all want their fair share of attention. And god forbid, has the trade fairs organisaztion rated the tolerance of the indoor halls for noise destruction, wouldn't want the upper levels collapsing on Maruti now, would we?
4. On the business day or the second day of the motor show kindly refrain from handing out passes for dealers and their uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, daughters and her entire Facebook friends circle. It would be nice for us in the media to also have some amount of space on the second day as well to continue to fulfill our roles as journalists. There are still a lot of cars and motorcycles to shoot and film. As a business day I have no idea what business do relatives of dealers have at the Expo. If you still believe that you'd like to pamper the dealers for the very crucial role they play in our automotive industry absolutely feel free to do so, but why not do it the next time on the fifth or sixth day? Hand these complimentary guest passes out for towards the fag end of the expo, the crowds on these days are limited since everyone realizes there aren't freebies being handed out. Its helps spread your numbers out so every day shows a reasonable amount of attendance, definitely a win win for everyone.
5. It would be very professional of you if there were more than one internet service provider tied up as your partner. The media I am sure would appreciate not having to go back to the days of monopoly which results in highway robbery. The fares charged are exorbitant because there is just one operator and while some of us may be able to afford the rates most of the media that spreads the word on the auto expo definitely can't afford these astronomical figures. If the automotive industry has moved on from two to three manufacturers to nearly three dozen jostling with each other in various segments, I don't see why the internet services provided on your biggest day has to be restricted to just one player. Irrational and makes me think someone somewhere is earning a hefty kickback.
6. Its nice of SIAM to give the opportunity to some small manufacturer, I assume is related to obviously someone within SIAM, to provide a shuttle service. The promotion of a electric mobility solution with the fairgrounds is definitely encouraging, even if the government isn't highly appreciative of the effort yet. However a suggestion either allow or encourage more manufacturers to do the same. Its nice to sit in a 1920's styled horseless carriage or a chook-chook train but this is a event that also celebrates the advances the automobile industry has made, this isn't the...Ram Leela!
At the international motor shows held in Europe most manufacturers provide shuttle services in some of their latest cars, either alternatively fueled or in some cases even in cars that have either just hit the markets or will do so in the immediate future. This provides manufacturers the opportunity to offer a more intimate feel of their cars to the visitors, not just as showpieces but living breathing examples.
7. On a more humanitarian note we would appreciate finding a seat somewhere on which to park ourselves. Inevitably the media finds itself walking and standing for over 12 hours with barely any time to catch their breath. Small areas that would allow us to rest our feet and not on the floors of the show spaces would be much appreciated.
8. Now this one goes out to the manufacturers. The mad public and even media rush for goodies has been created by you and your need to be
noticed. Please get with the times and digitize all your press material. Press releases should be made available online instantly so should images and video. When will you guys learn that there is something called a media site, which allows access to registered media and makes life so much simpler. It is you guys who hand out the thumb drives and the ridiculous calendars, posters, bags and other paraphernalia that gets the not so cultured and dubious media personnel go hare brained crazy and then its you itself who go around tut-tutting at their preposterous behavior.
9. Another one for the manufacturers. The levels hosts you have on attendance at your stalls who love to parade and around their assigned displays and show off their 500watt smiles are only good for just that. They are as much of a showpiece as the cars you display. Why not run them through a two or three day crash course on what the product is that they will represent. Don't just run them through grooming sessions, give them a little knowledge too. Get them well prepared to answer confidently any questions fielded on whatever it is they are representing? We don't expect them to know company plans but if they could point out who in the company could answer relevant questions, provide certain product information and generally look interested, it would definitely add a whole new dimension to your brand.
10. Finally I'd like to end on a congratulatory note. Auto Expo 2014 was a resounding success in many ways. It gave India a sense of pride to be able to host a world class event. As an automotive journalist I have had the opportunity of traveling to several motor shows all around the world. From Shanghai to Los Angeles I have visited almost every major motor show there is. And today I can very proudly tell anyone I meet there that they must come down for the Indian Auto Expo. This event ran as smoothly and professionally as any global show. I was pleased to hear even the manufacturers sounding off very positive feedback about the motor show. Like any first venture the occasional hiccups I mentioned above are just that, hiccups.
Swallow a glass of water or a spoonful of sugar and the next few years should see an even better organized event. I for one can't wait for 2016, and hopefully be in a better position to make our own contribution to host an even better motor show than what we saw this year. A new benchmark has just been created!