MotorWorld And The Australian Motoring Festival: Now 2 Motor Shows For Victoria Photo:
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Tim O'Brien | Sep, 04 2014 | 2 Comments

The happy state of Victoria has gone from being a ‘motor-show-free zone’, to now having two on offer for 2015. Its cup is surely running over.

In one corner is VACC and RACV’s Australian Motoring Festival, to be staged at the Showgrounds; in the other, the freshly announced MotorWorld Melbourne at Sandown Raceway.

And each within six months of the other: the Australian Motoring Festival in late March, MotorWorld Melbourne, the last week in November.

That’s going to make things interesting; it will have each going all-out to win the hearts and minds of Victorian families, car buyers and enthusiasts.

Perhaps more to the point, it is also going to have each going all-out to win over car, motorcycle, 4WD and lifestyle exhibitors and manufacturers.

Because you can’t run a show without exhibitors. And certainly not without exhibitors prepared to go to some considerable expense to be involved.

Which raises some interesting issues.

One of the key issues that undermined the viability of the Melbourne and Sydney Motor Shows was the cost to manufacturers of their involvement: the cost of bespoke displays, of expensive exhibition space, of staffing and of the logistics.

It was that cost, and declining attendances, that saw manufacturers withdraw support first from the Melbourne Show and then its Sydney counterpart.

In the end, too many manufacturers voted with their feet, choosing instead to stage their own roadshows and face-to-face consumer events.

Now, if they choose to get involved with these new projects - and each is deep into planning and preparations - the manufacturers are going to have to cast their lots two ways, or just one way, or not at all.

No risk, each of these events will cannibalise the other.

But, if there’s a challenge there, it’s not deterring Rod Lockwood, the Managing Director of Definitive Events who will be staging MotorWorld Melbourne.

His company, Mr Lockward said, is the “most experienced major event team in the country”.

It’s a claim with some significant successes to back it up: Definitive Events stages the Anzac Day Commemorations at Gallipoli in Turkey, the Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, Jayco Herald Sun Classic cycling, plus the Ironman Championships, World Road Cycling Championships and World Triathlon Championships in Australia, and also stages Equitana Sydney and Melbourne.

And, yes, MotorWorld Melbourne will be unlike any motor show this country has seen. With exhibitions of cars, bikes, 4WDs, classics, aftermarket and leisure manufacturers, it is going to shift the motor show concept far from the static display.

Definitive Events describes it as an “interactive, experiential festival” utilising the “track”, “street”, and “off-road circuit”.

Its target is to attract over 100,000 visitors over the five-day event. Underwritten by Definitive Events, the marketing and advertising campaign for MotorWorld Melbourne begins in December, almost a full 12 months ahead of time.

While acknowledging the challenge the VACC and RACV event poses, Mr Lockwood said, “We think we have the venue that will win the confidence of brands. Especially those brands that are already running track days and are experienced at presenting their cars in this kind of dynamic environment.”

He is aiming for a “critical mass” of between 10 and 15 manufactures, but also anticipates the involvement of dealers. “If we don’t get all of the brands, we know that there are very large dealerships, like Trivett here today, who will want to attend,” he said.

"We want the cost here to be around 30 percent of what (manufacturers) used to pay (at the Melbourne Motor Show)," he said.

He is also focussed on providing value for families and people attending.

“So if you’re paying $45 for a general admission ticket, if we get the programming right, the right entertainment, the right activities, we will give five hours of engagement in activities that you would otherwise pay far more for,” he said.

On the other side of the fence, both VACC and RACV are also experienced in staging major events. VACC ran the Melbourne Motor Show, and RACV has a vast reach into Victorian motorists’ hearts and homes.

VACC and RACV have a Goodwood-type event in mind.

Speaking with TMR, VACC Executive Director David Purchase said, “The Australian Motoring Festival will connect automotive manufacturers and distributors with the vehicle-buying public in a new and dynamic way.”

“Our research shows that people want to engage and interact with the exhibits and activities at motoring events and that’s what we intend to deliver at the Australian Motoring Festival,” he told TMR at the announcement of the event in May this year.

So, is there a winner in this scenario - two motoring festivals in the one year? Perhaps in year one neither of the protagonists, but the Victorian public can probably count themselves as winners.

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