<A> For us it was a no-brainer.. There are a lot of people in the UK who want to attend an aftermarket or supply chain exhibition, but at the moment have to go to Frankfurt. It’s time and money to get over there. What we are offering is the opportunity to get to a show that is only an hour or two (OK, if you live in Cornwall its further, but you can do it in a day) It costs you only your petrol and a limited amount of your time. You could attend the show just for a morning if you were really pushed for time.
I know that Messe Frankfurt did a lot of analysis on this and clearly it is a risk to hold two shows in Europe in the same year, but the analysis showed that this wouldn’t happen. Frankfurt has more exhibitors than ever this year despite the fact that Birmingham is on. Perhaps a few of the smaller companies have made a decision between the two, but next year there is no decision to make as there is no Frankfurt show.
Historically NEC aftermarket shows haven’t worked well. Why will AM B’ham be different?
<A> It’s all about the brand. It has stuck me since we announced this show is that the brand is so well known. This isn’t just the world’s largest automotive trade show – it is the world’s largest trade show brand in any product category. So when people see the Automechanika brand it gives them confidence because we consistently deliver great trade shows around the world. They know that they are coming to something that is a trusted event and will deliver what they are hoping for.
Is it sustainable to run a show of this size in the UK every year?
<A> We know there was demand in the first place to run an annual show. The analysis was done and our partners at SMMT felt there was real demand for an annual show. That said, we will run the show as often as the industry demands it – and over the next few years we will see what the demand is.
Did you ask potential visitors what the wanted, and who they wanted to meet at the show ahead of launch?
<A> Research into what the exhibitors and visitors want is key. Because this is a launch event, we have surveyed all of the exhibitors about whom they want to meet at the event and what they want out of them. In the aftermarket, it was very clear who that was so it enabled us to build our marketing plans and build a seminar programme to attract them to the event. However, it was very clear to us that it was the exhibitors [rather than just seminars or other programmes] that draw visitors in the UK to an event.
Was it difficult to draw the floorplan without upsetting some people?
<A> We treated it as a level playing field. It was a case of first come first served. Obviously some of the bigger stands are at the front of the halls, so that was the only thing that we did plan. The great thing about the way the plan is organised is that it will encourage visitors to walk the whole of the three floors and to really browse. While we expect them to plan who they are going to see to an extent, we really want them to browse and talk to the wide array of exhibitors that we have.
I realise the show is not as big as Frankfurt –
<A> Well, not this year! We’ll organise the exhibitors according to product categories, the country they’re from and supply chain and aftermarket.
This is a VM supply chain show as well as an aftermarket show. Do you see one putting the other off?
<A> I don’t see any putting off of people whatsoever. I think it’s great to get the whole industry together. Other Automechanika’s have this offering as well and it’s something the industry has been crying out for.
What steps have you taken to ensure the ‘high rollers’ of the aftermarket buying groups attend?
<A> We’ve seen already that some of the usual suspects in the aftermarket have registered, but yes, we want to make sure we want to make sure they turn out in numbers. In fact we’d love all of the individual branches of the major motor factors to come along, because the opportunity for these branches is to meet the parts manufacturers face to face and be able to touch the products. From that perspective we sometimes don’t get to hear from the horse’s mouth and for the distributors and motor factors they can learn about some of the products and services from the manufacturers directly. In turn this will help them sell the products to their customers.
The exhibitors have said to us that they don’t just want to meet the big buyers – they want to sell to people indirectly.