“There’s a factor used these days called ‘Surprise and Delight’ that figured prominently into the 2009 Chicago Auto Show,” said event Chairman Mark Scarpelli. “When many pundits were preaching the worst possible forecast for the show, we were both surprised and delighted to see our numbers exceeding (up nearly 20 percent through the midpoint) of what we experienced in 2008. We think that the areas that were under our control—a highly visual, motivating, affordable and fun-to-attend show—were executed beautifully. We’re thankful to all of our exhibitors and everyone at McCormick Place for making it yet another memorable year for everyone who made their way downtown during our run.”
“But there’s also an adage about not talking about a no-hitter in the fifth inning,” commented Scarpelli. “And the forces of nature in mid-winter Chicago dealt us a few snowy curve balls in our closing innings that affected our totals. But at the end of the game, we’re still very much of the opinion that our show delivered a winning performance.”
“While we feel that the show was quite successful, the true measure of the success of an auto show is how it transforms the show visitor into a dealership customer,” said Jerry Cizek, general manager of the show and president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. “It’s our belief that auto shows are not just about new model introductions and news conferences, but rather giving a first-rate stage upon which manufacturers can market directly to a public that’s—for lack of better term—impressionable. Our ongoing mission is to turn show visitors into a sales prospect, which benefits the customer, our dealers and our manufacturers. It’s a win-win-win we’re seeking.”
Did the downturned economy have an impact? Of course! It’s having an impact on every aspect of our lives, but show organizers addressed it head-on with new and innovative promotions and attractions designed to help bring more people into McCormick Place. As the biggest show in North America, Chicago has a lot of room for a lot of show.
“Remember, the second word in an auto show is ‘show,’ so we worked hard to help move the needle as best we could as a producer,” said Cizek. “The manufacturers and dealer line associations certainly assisted, as well, with special ‘auto show bonus cash’ promotions, car giveaways and financing incentives. Let’s hope the show’s wake is strong and our dealers reap the benefits in their businesses.”
“Evidently, we’re not the only ones who feel this way about Chicago’s impact,” continued Cizek. “When other shows had multiple pullouts, Chicago proved to be the show that manufacturers worked hard to stay in, not exit.”
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