I write this piece having just accused those WGMW members who do not use internet banking of being Luddites.
The truth is that the web makes so many things so much easier that one could be forgiven for thinking that a virtual life was a happy life… but no.
When it comes to commerce, how many people would willingly buy from someone they didn’t like? Few, I would wager, the other side of the coin being that if you can convince people you are reasonably pleasant and have a working knowledge of you trade, folk are more likely to do business with you than if they think you are a git, hence the demise of Norman Tebbitt’s babywear shop on Chingford High Street.
It is for this reason that show and exhibitions still draw a crowd if they have enough to offer both visitor and exhibitor alike. Witness the insane lemming run that is the Geneva Motor Show, where people go to be seen by other people who have gone to be seen.
Our fleet show, which takes place at Silverstone circuit on Wednesday 24 April will possibly not be the drawer of crowds that “the salon” undoubtedly is. Then again you won’t be able to drive an F-Type in Geneva, so we will have something (above) the Swiss won’t.
Organising an event like this falls somewhere between selling snake oil and going blind in three-card brag. You have to convince the visitors that they will be daft not to come, while persuading exhibitors that the place will be mobbed by eager buyers. Without a track record that’s incredibly hard work and fortunately we have a track record, and it’s a pretty good one.
Last year’s show drew in 366 worthy fleet buyers and in a move of almost breathtaking naivety we told the complete truth about visitor numbers. None of that “fleets responsible for the purchase of three trillion vehicles” guff for us.
And it appears to have paid off. We have twice the number of motor manufacturers exhibiting and although three major players are conspicuous by their absence (21 are exhibiting) we’ve run out of space so we couldn’t fit them in anyway.
Our aim is to get 700 fleet buyers through the door on the day, and that would fill the place. We’re offering hot laps with racing drivers on the full Grand Prix circuit, plus accompanied driving on both Stowe and GP tracks. There’s a conference with some really good speakers, panel discussions, workshops, and a good “shell scheme” exhibition area displaying innovative new gadgets. Some will even get to drive a fuel cell hybrid for the first time.
In an ideal world, all the visitors will go home with a warm feeling about all the exhibitors and promptly order thousands of cars and other services… probably via email or some faceless website. But at least we will have given them a brief opportunity to get to know – and like – each other.
My measure of success will be whether I am tucking into chicken tikka massala by 7.30pm. that’s half an hour later than last year, but I have to make allowances for it being a much bigger show.