Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Are trade shows still relevant? // A lack of interest in Autosport International this year

Published by Mr. C

For the first time in six years neither Christine nor I will be attending Autosport International at the NEC, Birmingham today. We began attending the event before Sidepodcast existed, but this year we're keeping our money in our wallets and staying put.

DTM drivers talk motor sport at Autosport International 2009
Credit: Sidepodcast

Twelve months ago we reported from the event how much of a disappointment the trip had been, and little has changed in the intervening period to convince us this year might be different.

Part of the problem is the venue. The NEC has always managed to provide the worst event lighting ever experienced, casting as it does an awful orange glow across photographs that might be taken. Additionally, due to its location the National Exhibition Centre may change punters what it chooses for car parking, on top of the entry ticket price (£31 per person, per day this year by the way).

Zero emissions

Another venue related issue is the environmental cost of travelling to such an event. I couldn't find any mention of it, so I'm assuming that the organisers Haymarket haven't considered making the event carbon neutral, including accounting for those travelling to Birmingham from far and wide. The FIA are attempting the same thing for every Grand Prix on the calendar, so you can't argue it's not a relevant concept to motor sport. Maybe they think it's someone else's problem.

Isn't there a more modern, more eco-friendly solution to promoting motor sport than this?

Cost and the environment aren't the only problems though, I'm beginning to question the relevance of attending trade shows in the age of instant media. Autosport International, like many shows of this nature, tries to appeal to two audiences. Those in the trade and also the general public - in this case, motor sport fans. I can see a certain appeal for fans queuing up for autographs of your racing hero (although predictably a large number are ebay bound), but for the life of me I can't fathom the appeal for traders.

Do companies still hold back product announcements until a conveniently scheduled show happens to pass through town, and if so, why? We live in a real-time world where information can be pinged around the globe in an instant, why would a company want to make a product release at a time that doesn't suit them? Especially if lots of people in the same field intend on doing exactly the same thing. How many small announcements will get lost during the next four days, because Jenson Button said something that stole the headlines?

Travel trouble

The logic of it all doesn't make any sense to me any more. The UK is currently experiencing some pretty awful weather, travelling is hazardous unless absolutely necessary, yet because of Autosport for many it is very necessary.

Isn't there a more modern, more eco-friendly solution to promoting motor sport than this?

Trade shows seem to be something who's days must soon be numbered. Right now, I can browse the whole Demon Tweeks catalogue from the comfort of my couch. I know what's in stock and I don't have to fight to get attention from the person behind the counter. Why in the world do I need to drive to Birmingham to do the same thing?