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Inaugural Australian Motoring Festival misses its mark

Reach for the sky: The first ever Australian Motoring Festival only managed draw 25,000 punters, well short of the projected 50,000 patrons predicted before the event kicked-off.

Lower than predicted attendance figures hasn't deterred optimism for future events

30 Mar 2015

THE first ever Australian Motoring Festival (AMF) has managed to attract 25,000 visitors over its four days of operation, half of what event organisers were hoping for leading up to the event.

The festival was promoted as a new-format motor show, with more interaction and a family friendly atmosphere after the planned Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) was canned in 2013 due to dwindling interest.

Melbourne and Sydney held their own separate motor show until 2008, when it was decided that AIMS would alternate between cities each year, with the last Melbourne motor show being in 2011 with an attendance figure of 160,000.

Last week, event director Kylie Wood told GoAuto that, “fifty thousand is what we have been promoting...that's what we're aiming for”.

Despite this, VACC executive director Geoff Gwilym said in a statement that the fledgling festival was still a success.

“We were pleased with the festival attendance, in light of facing a very busy weekend in Melbourne with the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival,” he said.

Speaking with GoAuto this week, Mr Gwilym said he was positive about the attendance numbers and all but confirmed the festival’s return.

“When you launch an event like this, the last thing you want to do is set your mark low,” he said.

“So what we did was set a high benchmark, we promoted well, we got 25,000 this year, next year we might get 60 or 70,000.”

When pressed on the festival’s return, Mr Gwilym said that a decision was yet to be made, but after reviewing the event that only wrapped up on Sunday, an announcement would be made.

“We will be making an analysis of the show over the next few weeks and we are hopeful,” he said.

“We've got an independent organisation that's doing some post-event analysis for us and we're very optimistic about running it again next year.”

Only six manufacturers were in attendance at the inaugural event – Ferrari, Toyota, Isuzu Ute, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Tomcar, and Mr Gwilym confirmed that there is now a surge of interest from other marques.

“We know a number of manufacturers came along and had a sticky beak, and we wouldn't be surprised if they approached us pretty soon about how they can be part of the event next year,” he said.

“It would be nice to get a few more of the manufacturers there, the ones that were there did very well and were very happy to be there, so it's up to the manufacturers to come in and support this program.”

When asked how the Australian Motoring Festival can succeed where traditional motor shows failed, Mr Gwilym cited the interactive nature of the festival and a lower cost of entry for manufacturers.

“To me, people walking around a hundred cars turning around on turntables, that was too static,” he said.

“There was also a cost element, and resources have been honed down a lot since then.

“They [manufacturers] need to be very confident about these types of events because they've got to pour a lot of resources in.”

Although still too early to tell if the event was financially successful, Mr Gwilym said the festival is currently a Melbourne-only proposition, with organisers focussing on “getting it running well on home turf,” before considering hosting an event interstate.

Punters’ reception to the festival has been mostly positive, with almost a third of attendees participating in interactive elements, while the manufacturers that were involved said they were pleased with the turnout.

One of the biggest names at the event, Ferrari, was overwhelmed by public response and Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth said it was a worthwhile weekend for the iconic Italian brand.

“Our showcase LaFerrari drew a large number of people to the Ferrari Pavilion at the event, along with our current range and classic vehicles on display,” he said.

“Overall it has been a very positive experience for Ferrari, our owners and fans alike.”

Mercedes-Benz Australia manager of public relations and product communications Jerry Stamoulis said the festival was a great opportunity to get some its upcoming products in front of a big audience, adding that the company is looking ahead to the next festival.

“It was the first public display of the CLA Shooting Break and the show-stopping AMG GT S in Australia, which were welcomed by our current customers and potential future clients,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing how the event will evolve in 2016.”

Toyota Australian regional marketing manager Jeremy Watson said the event was a success for the Japanese car-making giant.

“Overall, we've had a fantastic experience throughout the past four days at the festival,” he said.

“There was a consistently high volume of foot traffic at the Toyota stand over the weekend.

“We're looking forward to the event growing bigger and better in future years, and it was great to have the opportunity to be involved from year one.”

One of the highlights at the show was Tomcar's off-road track experience, with the Melbourne manufacturer’s CEO David Brim saying the public’s reception was nothing but overwhelmingly positive.

“We were very happy with the turnout, and we look forward to many future years of working with the festival,” he said.

“We gave more than 1000 members of the public a ride on a Tomcar around the 4WD track, which was incredible exposure for our brand.”

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