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AIMS: Motor show attendance review starts

No show: Crowds were down at this year’s Australian International Motor Show after several high-profile car marques pulled the pin.

‘Disappointing’ motor show turnout triggers search for answers to reverse decline

General News logo5 Nov 2012

AUSTRALIAN International Motor Show organisers are looking to market research to help pinpoint reasons for a disappointing crowd of 135,050 at this year’s event in Sydney.

They also have committed to wooing back a flock of disenchanted car companies that have deserted the show in recent years among claims that it does not deliver sufficient bang for the buck to warrant the large investment.

This year’s fan roll up at the Darling Harbour exhibition centre – the last motor show at the venue before it gets a total makeover – was the second worst in memory, bettering only 2010’s GFC-affected attendance of 124,000.

The attendance figure was less than half the record tally of about 320,000 in 2001 and well short of the 2011 show attendance of 193,755 in Melbourne, where Australia’s only motor expo returns in 2013 on the year-about arrangement between Australia’s two largest cities.

Motor show director Russ Tyrie described the lower-than-expected attendance as disappointing.

He said the show management had embarked on a heavy advertising campaign in New South Wales to promote the 10-day event that started on October 18.

“We are disappointed because the show deserves more than that,” he told GoAuto.

 center imageLeft: AIMS Russ Tyrie.

“There were some fantastic unveilings there, as well as other feature cars etcetera, along with Ford’s interactive approach which brought a new dimension to a show at Darling Harbour.

“I think we would have expected a stronger crowd.”

Twenty-seven car brands went on display at this year’s show, but BMW, Audi, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Volvo were among the no-shows – a situation that Mr Tyrie concedes likely affected attendances.

However, he said would need to see market research commissioned for this year’s show before drawing conclusions.

“We were undertaking a lot of research there,” he said. “That may elicit some directions, but at the moment we haven’t got the reports on that.

“We invested heavily with media, in advertising, so I don’t believe it was a lack of awareness.

“We will be looking closely at the research we have undertaken and obviously taking it into account.”

To rub salt in the wounds this year, a power blackout on the final Sunday afternoon crippled the ticketing system and blacked out two halls of the exhibition centre, costing the show several hundred visitors.

The show will shift to Sydney’s 2000 Olympic venue at Homebush when the event next returns to Sydney in 2014 while Darling Harbour is rebuilt and expanded.

Mr Tyrie said the shift of location would present opportunities to bring other elements into the show.

“We are looking forward to that venue,” he said.

Asked if the motor show management would seek to reverse the exodus of car companies from the show, Mr Tyrie said: “Very definitely. We would like to see as many brands as possible represented at Melbourne.”

The 2013 show will get a shot in the arm from the expected public debut of the new VF Commodore – possibly the last locally made large car from Holden.

Traditionally, these local heroes drive show crowds like nothing else, with Holden’s Monaro helping to drag in record numbers in 2001.

The motor show is jointly organised by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, which previously held separated annual shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

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