With stunning backdrops and grand architecture France is a popular destination for car launch events. France is one of seven destinations known for product launch events related to the automotive industry, and some events can attract as much as 20,000+ people. In past years there were multiple grand venue openings in France. Some of the venues have significantly important architecture features, and these features can sometimes compliment a desired storytelling element and increase audience engagement. One such building is the recently opened (2016) Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
To get a further look into this interesting subject, Atout France hosted an expert session at their stand during IMEX Frankfurt 2017 entitled “Future architecture projects in France & automobile events” and invited two industry leaders to share their insights on the use of architecturally significant venues, both old and new, for automotive events. The event explored how these venues and their features can be used to create maximum impact at a car launch event. Kevin Jackson, CEO of Experience is The Marketing, interviewed Christian Seidenstücker, CEO at JOKE Event AG.
How do you decide on a venue for car launch events or other auto activity?
At first we discuss with the client which destination would fit the brand and brand message. Secondly, we look at all logistical aspects, for example, how to get the people there. Additionally, and only recently, the political environment became a major factor in the decision making process.
How do event planners decide what venues fit with the car brand?
Once the decision is made regarding a destination, we’ll then look how to get support from local partners. We prepare a detailed brief outlining what type of venue we are looking for and what could fit. Additionally, sometimes we prepare a moodboard to describe the type of building we are looking for.
Do you use moodboard only with DMC or also with venues or CVBs to brief them in details?
Yes. Actually, it would be great if venues will initiate this and ask for detailed information. The more information you give, the easier it is for the venue to meet your expectations and better for client satisfaction. If it doesn’t work out for the specific project, maybe it could fit another time.
What can venues do in terms of technology support for car launches?
Firstly, organisers are happy if the venue is able to provide reliable wifi. Staging an event is very expensive, and if you invite journalists from all over the world you need good wifi. According to a recent survey among 10,000 event planners who organise events in Europe, all they want is the ability to push out content.
Secondly, lights are very important. When venues receive a request for a car launch event, it’s advised that they’ll consult with an expert about what they can provide in terms of technology to make the venue more attractive and more competitive.
What challenges do event planners face when using architecturally significant buildings?
Venues with architectural highlight have certain difficulties. There will be restrictions in terms of branding, and must find out whether the car fits into the venue. Furthermore, the car shouldn’t disturb the whole “picture” of the environment. It also depends on the brand. If you choose an architecturally significant venue is because you want to enhance the image of the car launched so the features should be emphasised.
Furthermore, it’s all about attention and how to generate buzz. If the architectural highlight supports the product it’s perfect because planners always think about pictures, e.g. – press pictures or of attendees. If you choose an architecturally significant building, you choose it for a reason. The atmosphere should create a positive memory and a story.
How do venues get chosen for a car launch events?
It’s about the relationship. We choose based on how the venue can add value. It’s not only about the venue, but also about the support they provide. In the ideal world we want to have “one stop shop” – a sales person who will be with us from start to finish. Event planners don’t want to repeat the brief several times and don’t like sales people who overpromise.
A mistake many venues make is that they approach the sales process in the same way. They usually focus on key features such as room size, lighting, air conditioning etc. The speakers suggest that venues should approach this process differently and take a proactive approach, such as guaranteeing that they will be with the planner from start to finish. That’s a much better technique than selling a room, because planners know how a room looks like. It’s important to remember, that everyone can do the job, but it’s how you add value to the clients that decides whether you win or whether you lose. That’s the same for venues whether they have architecture or not, it’s how they can provide value.
How can venues add value?
In terms of logistics – the organiser is usually a foreigner in the city so it’s not only about the venue, as mentioned earlier, but about how to bring the people from the airport or train station to the venues. Planners miss such support from the venue. If people can’t access the venue easily the event will start in a bad mood. JOKE Event once was positively surprised when destination representatives (airport, local agencies etc.) were on-site to also support the event. The message was clear – the destination was behind and supported the event. Planners want an eco-system that the venue can provide them with as someone only working in the city can give.
What do you see in the future in terms of venue requirements for automotive events and product launches?
Connectivity will be the topic of the future because the data volume is increasing. Therefore, if you want to keep up with the competitive market it’s essential to have the right infrastructure. Another aspect of connectivity is event’s reach beyond just the people in the room. It’s what you can do in terms of livestreaming, social sharing, endorsements etc. It’s not only about the event, but how to spread the message and promote the event. Events are huge investment by the company and it’s not enough to say that the event reached only the people in the room during the event. Secondly, key topic will be training, to train staff to add value to customers beyond venue’s key features.
To summarise, venues should support planners from the very beginning and communicate what the city can do or provide, rather than thinking about the single venue. It is recommended for venues to brainstorm with local partners about how they as a destination can add value to car launch events, for example with hotels, transfers, parking space and the whole infrastructure.