Today’s AMN Executive Interview features Emanuele Vicentini, brand manager, Autopromotec, and Margherita Balletta, media and external relations, Autopromotec, who share with aftermarketNews exciting details about this year’s event. The 2013 edition of the Autopromotec international automotive aftermarket trade show takes place May 22-26, in Bologna, Italy. In today’s interview, Vicentini and Balletta talk about the new technologies being used to reach out to attendees of this year’s event as well as the numerous side events taking place in conjunction with this year’s trade show to enhance the visitor experience.
Tell us about the new ways you are using technology to promote Autopromotec events and improve the visitor experience for attendees, such as with augmented reality.
Nowadays, it is essential to have a media strategy that uses the new technologies, and thus, a year ago we opened both a Twitter and a Facebook account through which we can be more interconnected with our audience. We have also renewed our website, where you can find more information about the tradeshow and the specific initiatives. All of these different tools help visitors and exhibitors to be more and more interconnected with Autopromotec and to be informed on what it is going on.
The biggest news is the Autopromotec app, which was released last September that anyone can download for free both on the Apple App Store and on Google Play Store. Visitors and exhibitors could use the app during Autopromotec in May and get more content, updated information and tools that will make the Autopromotec 2013 experience easier and more complete.
Thanks to innovative “augmented reality,” all the printouts of the tradeshow will come to life and offer more interactive content: people have just to point [their smartphone] at the Autopromotec image on all the printouts to get more information in augmented reality, such as videos and direct access to our social networks and more content will be available. By using the app, moreover, exhibitors will be able to read the bar code on the visitors’ tickets through most smartphones and tablets. This way, the e-ticket will become an e-business card during Autopromotec 2013, allowing visitors to easily share their contact information with our exhibitors.
Are there any new features that exhibitors and attendees can expect this year, either on the trade show floor or in the educational components?
The organization of numerous side events and initiatives boosts the vitality of the exhibition even further. Autopromotec is important and well-known both for what it offers in terms of products and innovations proposed by the exhibitors and for the new initiatives we are able to organize every edition, which are an added value to the show. For example, last year we introduced AutopromotecEDU, a venue for widening the after-sales and service activities. This event will be implemented and presented again in the 2013 edition.
A new important initiative will be IAAM13 (International Automotive Aftermarket Meeting) as part of AutopromotecEDU: it will be a global event conducted by high-level experts and international associations. The aim of IAAM13 will consist to point out existing and future aftermarket business opportunities in emerging countries like the BRIC countries and to look at marketing solutions in such countries. Also, B2B meetings will follow in between speakers and participants in order to find proper approaches of those new markets.
In 2013 there will also be a “Diagnostic Hub” dedicated to diagnosis equipment because we registered a rise in the demand of spaces from those companies. Moreover, you will find the same hall-by-hall focus that makes Autopromotec unique because it lets people tailor their visit according to their needs. Of course, also next year there will be the outside area dedicated to the car wash industry under the name of Autopromotec Filling Station Equipment, the halls dedicated to spare parts and a new outside area dedicated to the truck sector as part of the Autopromotec Industrial Vehicles Service initiative, an event created and dedicated to the maintenance and service of trucks
Moreover, people continue to come to Autopromotec because they know that they can discover all the newest products and technologies that the companies offer.
What are your expectations in terms of attendance from international visitors this year?
We are working in order to maintain and increase the important target we reached in the past editions. But the most important thing to us is to maintain a very high level of specialization and quality, both visitor- and exhibitor-wise, because this is the added value of Autopromotec and one of the main things that continues to attract people. Indeed, there is not an optimum size that we aim to reach: we are satisfied by the path of growth of Autopromotec, especially in terms of international visitors and exhibitors.
Autopromotec is a well-established event, which is constantly evolving and now covers a 150,000-square-meter area. Autopromotec is currently the most renowned business platform for advanced technologies, innovations, new products and market opportunities representing an international benchmark for business opportunities.
The visitors are only professionals of the aftermarket sector coming from all over the world. In its last edition, in 2011, over the five days there were 103,666 attendees, 18,524 of which were international (an increase by 11 percent from 2009). With the professionals that come for the next edition, we expect an increase in the number of international visitors as a result of the intense international promotion activities we are pursuing in target countries thanks to the cooperation with editorial groups, associations and promotional bodies. The increase in number of exhibitors is expected especially from countries outside Europe: the Italian market, also in terms of visitors, is for us overfilled, and the number of Italian professionals has not significantly increased lately. On the other hand, international visitors, especially, represent a huge potential base for Autopromotec.
For our readers based in North America, please tell us how they could benefit from attending Autopromotec?
Autopromotec is the exhibition for automotive professionals. It is an association-based event, founded and developed to meet the needs of exhibitors and visitors. An added value of the exhibition is the quality of its exhibitors: exclusively authorized manufacturers and representatives. Autopromotec represents a kind of selection of specialized fairs. Its hall-by-hall setup allows visitors to easily plan their routes, according to the commodity and professional interests. Autopromotec is the worldwide showcase in the automotive world; it attracts top-class exhibitors in many areas and is the main intersection for all automotive aftermarkets.
We can also add here that the American and European automotive markets have become more similar over the years because the motorizations (especially in America, where there is now a spread of less powerful engines) are changing and the markets are thus gaining similar characteristics. For these reasons, it would be useful for all those Americans who would like to understand where the market is going to come to Autopromotec.
Every day, we see new reports detailing how the European automotive industry is struggling with the weak economy and low vehicle production levels. How is the aftermarket segment faring? What are your thoughts on this issue?
Of course the current economic situation is uncertain, but since Autopromotec is an international show with a worldwide perspective, and its visitors and exhibitors come from every part of the world, we are sure that it won’t be too much affected.
The international perspective of Autopromotec will thus give the show the right twist and will meet the needs of both visitors and exhibitors. Moreover, we are working to organize delegations from some target countries that will visit Autopromotec, such as buyers, members of sector associations and media. Also the tradeshows changed as a consequence of the crisis, and if you want to be competitive, you have to offer a meeting point for professionals, a place where all the professionals know that they can meet the right interlocutors and expand their network.
What role do events such as Autopromotec play in strengthening the automotive aftermarket in Italy and beyond?
Nowadays it seems that the demand for a good aftermarket trade show increases when the economy gets tougher. Our sector is generally anti-cyclic and the decrease in sales of new cars boosts the aftermarket sector. Moreover, a low turnover encourages companies to find new businesses, and tradeshows are the perfect place to explore new opportunities.
For sure, the participation in big international trade shows represents today a very good opportunity for companies to access a precise market and understand its dynamics, and to directly meet and contact buyers from other countries. Moreover, the marketing and branding activities that one can pursue during these events are fundamental in determining the visibility and the sense of quality of the company itself and of its products.
Today, the most important international trade shows are the only places where companies can pursue all these activities. Indeed, they are still necessary showcases, especially in this difficult economic period in which it is fundamental to get in touch with a huge number of buyers and professionals and to widen the network. And this is exactly what Autopromotec offers to its exhibitors: specialized visitors, both buyers and professionals, coming from all over the world and representing all the sectors of the whole aftermarket.