One of the greatest effects COVID-19 has had on our society is the complete and total upheaval of patterns in our day-to-day lives. The way we used to do things has changed - we are more commonly working from home, we are minimizing interactions with people while maximizing distances, face coverings are commonplace, and we’ve replaced talking about sports and kids’ schoolwork with infection rates and ‘staying safe.’ These changes have profoundly affected how we do business in the events industry as well, and with the production of auto shows and experiential marketing events.
Prior to COVID-19 attendance at auto shows was on the rise. According to Foresight Research and their 2019-20 auto show season attendance report, out of the 46 US shows Foresight measured 61% resulted in higher year-over-year attendance, while just 13% had fewer attendees this year. Auto shows continue to provide OEM’s an extremely powerful marketing medium for reaching high-value prospects and auto enthusiasts.
As COVID-19 took hold in March 2020, auto shows completely went dark. The initial reaction was surprise and then reflection on what was happening. Over the next several weeks the industry started to regain some orientation. And after an introspective spring, conversations are now starting to heat up about what auto shows will look like as our society reopens.
Over the past few weeks G2Planet has talked with scores of auto show producers and OEM exhibitors about how they think auto shows will look during the 2020-21 season. When will they begin? How will they be different? Which OEMs will be more hesitant to participate, and which ones will move quickly and decisively in an effort to capture more than their typical share of awareness and engagement? How will the public react? And with the economic slowdown, what types of budgets will OEMs have to activate?
Depending on how things evolve with infection rates, treatments and public confidence, some of the changes we may see at upcoming auto shows include:
- Reduction of person-to-person contact with parking, ticketing, credentialing, access control, exhibit interactions and the purchasing of concessions and show merchandise (cashless shows)
- Attendance restrictions and ticketing based on time slots
- One way aisles in the exhibit halls and within exhibitor booths to increase social distancing
- Access control into exhibitors’ booths
- More spacing in the exhibit hall (between exhibitors and in walkways)
- New regulations for exhibitors to wipe down their booths to disinfect
- New attendee services for appointment scheduling, meeting management, collateral acquisition and requesting at-home test drives
Cast Innovation Technology
A common thread being heard from auto show producers and OEM exhibitors in these conversations is how it’s time for us, as an industry, to leverage and deploy new technology to mitigate risks and improve attendee engagements at auto shows post COVID-19. Mobile apps that attendees can use on their personal smartphones are starting to be viewed as essential tools with reducing person-to-person contact, enabling contact-free transactions, managing credentialing, and managing access control. Technology providers like G2Planet are hard at work creating new systems to support these changes in the marketplace.
At G2Planet, we are looking at these challenges as opportunities. We are asking ourselves ‘why is this happening for us?’ And most importantly, we are asking ourselves how can we better serve auto show attendees, OEM exhibitors, the media, and auto show producers with innovative, reliable and cost effective new application solutions at auto shows and experiential events?
The purpose of auto shows will remain the same - to provide consumers an opportunity to experience the products of many manufacturers all in one place in a safe, entertaining and fun way. But now, as an industry, it is up to us to figure out how to continue providing these informative, exciting and entertaining experiences to consumers while now also doing so in a way consumers will be able to enjoy safely.