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Motor shows return in 2010

On show: Brisbane car fans will get a new-look motor show in 2010 after missing out this year.

Brisbane show revived as 2010 Australian International Motor Show locks in to Sydney

3 Aug 2009


THE Australian motor show season – slashed to just one show this year after the cancellation of four of the five traditional events – will be boosted next year by the return of a new-look Brisbane show alongside a full-strength Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) in Sydney.

The Brisbane event, which will be the nation’s first new-car exhibition since the Melbourne International Motor Show (MIMS) last February, will kick off the year on February 3, while AIMS is all but locked in to return to Sydney from October 14, following a two-year hiatus.

However, while Brisbane’s born-again automotive expo has been locked in for 10 years under a new arrangement between event owner MTAQ and a Sydney-based promoter, details of the deal between the AIMS and MIMS promoters to jointly stage an annual international-standard Australian motor show that alternates between Sydney and Melbourne are yet to be finalised.

A car company-led boycott of last October’s Sydney event resulted in poor crowd attendances and a joint-venture to host a single rotating annual event between Sydney show organiser, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), and MIMS promoter, the new car division of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

 center imageLeft: 2009 Melbourne motor show. Below: FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

The FCAI says negotiations for the Motor Show Joint Venture announced in February are close to being finalised and that a firm booking for the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour remains in place for October 14-24, 2010.

However, while the JV contract confirms issues of AIMS ownership and profit sharing, GoAuto understands that the FCAI and VACC are yet to decide who will run the event in each city.

“The proposed dates for Sydney for next year are October 14-24,” FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said this week. “Those are the proposed dates and the proposal is the joint-venture takes over that date from the FCAI.

“Negotiations to finalise the contract (with the venue) are still underway. At this stage the joint-venture has had a number of meetings in recent months and is progressing well. What we will be doing is coming out in the near term with a more detailed plan in terms of the arrangements and, if you like, a relaunch of the whole event.

“That will be forthcoming shortly, but at this stage the planning is proceeding well and the arrangements for the organiser roles and other key appointments are being put in place. I think we’re quite satisfied that it’s on track and that we’ll be in a position to provide a lot more detail on the proposed scope of the event in the near future.

“There’s a sequence of steps that will be gone through with the JV, pinning down the organiser arrangements, so stand by for more details about the event itself and the future direction of the JV.

“There are still some important contractual details that need to be finalised with the venue, which will be resolved as soon as possible.” While the 2011 AIMS in Melbourne may be shifted closer to a mid-year date, it could be up to five years before AIMS in Sydney moves from its October date, delaying the establishment of a single mid-year AIMS that switches between Sydney and Melbourne, which was a key demand of some car companies.

“The plan all along is that it will be badged as the Australian International Motor Show and that will be case for both the Sydney event and the Melbourne event,” said Mr McKellar.

“That (a mid-year Melbourne date) is under discussion with the venue, so I don’t have anything to report on that at this point. But I guess we’ll hopefully have some progress on that in the near future. At this stage I won’t go into the detail of that.

“Our preferred timing for both Sydney and Melbourne is to try and get to a stage where they are broadly 12 months apart. There has been an indication from discussions we’ve had with a number of brands that a timing that’s somewhere closer to mid-year would be desirable.

“But I guess we’ve got to work with the venues in two cities to resolve that sort of outcome.” Meantime, the organiser of the former Brisbane International Motor Show (BIMS), the AADA division of the MTAQ, has signed a 10-year contract with Sydney-based promoter Expertise Events to revive the event at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from February 3-7, 2010.

Closer in concept to last year’s successful Top Gear Live show in Sydney than a traditional motor show, the shortened five-day event – simply dubbed The Motor Show – promises more than 21 special features and precincts, including three car arenas, education rooms and feature displays.

Expertise Events chief Gary Fitz-Roy confirmed his company would hold the revised Brisbane show under a profit-sharing arrangement with the MTAQ, which is understood to have heavily relied on the BIMS for its income. Through its new car division, the AADA, the MTAQ has guaranteed to attract the support of its dealers should interest not be forthcoming at manufacturer/distributor/importer level.

However, Mr Fitz-Roy said interest from car companies canvassed so far was positive.

“We’re right in the middle of meetings at the moment with all of the car companies and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “We launched very quickly so we’re now in the fantastic position of getting all our plans in train fairly quickly.

“We had a very clear strategy that we had to announce it through the MTAQ and then we wanted to meet with all the manufacturers face to face. We started talking with brands last week in Sydney and Melbourne and that process will happen for another week or so.” Mr Fitz-Roy – whose company is responsible for running gardening expos in Sydney and Melbourne, jewellery fairs in Sydney and New Zealand and craft and quilt shows in Canberra and New Zealand – said the new Brisbane show concept aims to increase average visitation periods by increasing the level of interactivity.

“The industry has acknowledged that we’ve got a brand-new concept that will be different from all the other models that have existed and is long overdue. We’ve developed a pretty comprehensive document made up of 26 aspects. What we’ve done is come back to making the car the hero.

“Motors shows have become just a big showroom of cars and it’s become a one-upmanship of who can make the biggest stand, but the public actually want to see cars and they want to be entertained and inspired.

“Yes, you’ve got to have exhibitors and products there, but equally you’ve got to have education, entertainment and inspiration and unless those three are treated equally it doesn’t really work.

“The average stay at most motor shows, including Sydney and Melbourne, is a maximum of two hours. Our goal is to take that up to about four hours. If you look at the other shows we hold, admittedly in other industries, we’re averaging between four or five hours at most of our shows.

“When that happens you get a better buy-in from the public and better results for the exhibitor.” Mr Fitz-Roy said the Brisbane event, which would now encompass just one weekend, when the highest attendance is recorded, would not suffer from the loss of its ‘international’ title and would represent all brands.

“One of the things I found interesting is that Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane all call themselves international motor shows, but the truth is that none of them are, really. I expect we will have some new releases at the show, but we’re not dependent on that.

“Part of the arrangement with MTAQ is that all brands will be represented, even (if it is) through the dealers. Our plan is that if the manufacturer won’t support it, then the dealers will. We’ve got to cross that bridge but that’s the intention.

“The difference is that we now own the event. It’s independent from an organisation or an association and all of the politics that are attached to that. That has advantages and disadvantages, but that’s why it’s different to all the other shows.

“What we have done is commit to a long-term financial arrangement with the MTAQ which says to them, ‘Look, our success means that you’ll have funding to be successful as an organisation as well.’ “And we want them to do something for that and that is to work with us to ensure that we have every major brand represented. They will get a percentage of what we do in terms of turnover. It’s not complicated, but it means that the more successful we are, the more successful they are.” Mr Fitz-Roy said Queensland’s increasing share of Australia’s new-car market gave the Brisbane show greater potential than AIMS, crucial details of which were yet to be negotiated.

“If you have a look at registrations, Queensland is now on par with or has overtaken Victoria, so it’s the serious state that continues to grow,” he said.

“Out of all the motor shows, Queensland’s has been the one that has given the best return to the manufacturers. They’ve sold cars there and had enthusiastic support from their dealers, who want the show and recognise it stimulates sales for many months into the future, rather than seeing it as some sort of penalty.

“Sydney and Melbourne from my understanding have been fantastic showcases to launch cars. I’m not sure that they’ve delivered as much of a return in terms of sales there and then as Brisbane, and I’d be cheeky enough to say Brisbane has given the biggest return on their investment for all the brands than any other motors show in the country.

“The point about Sydney and Melbourne is that to my knowledge the VACC and FCAI have not come to an agreement about who will own it, who will run it and when it will run – will it be the old organiser or the VACC.

“There’s talk that it (the 2011 date) will change in Melbourne and go to a July date from March. We have a very set plan and I can comment on that, but it’s not clear who’s going to own and run the event and will it be held at a regular timeframe – will Sydney move to mid-year too. I don’t think any of that is resolved yet.” For his part, Mr McKellar wished the Brisbane show organisers well.

“It’s quite a separate event, but obviously any event that’s targeted towards the motoring public and promoting the industry and encouraging more new vehicle sales is a good thing, so we wish the promoters of that event all the best in their endeavours,” he said.

“(But) there’s no doubt the Australian International Motor Show will be the main event on the automotive industry calendar annually in Australia.

“So we expect that having responded to the industry’s desire to rationalise the shows that it should be well positioned to attract strong brand support.”

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