Disastrous experience at Beijing auto show
The organizers seem to have an ambitious goal to develop the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition to the level of the world’s top auto shows. But what they don’t realize is that size is not the only thing that matters.
The 12th edition kicked off Monday at the China International Exhibition Center with over 2,000 automakers and auto parts firms flocking to Beijing, eager not to miss the chance to promote themselves in the biggest auto market in the world. Although there are no official figures available yet, it is estimated that about 13,000 journalists from the host nation and abroad will visit the venue as well as about 800,000 visitors.
In terms of scale, the Beijing event is expected to set a new record, surely living up high expectations that it compete with those in Detroit, Frankfurt, Paris, and Geneva.
But such large-scale exhibitions can become disasters when not organized well, and that’s what is happening at the Beijing auto show.
The first two days were supposed to be only for accredited press. But the half of the city seemed to have been deemed journalists, with all of them on their way to the venue in the morning on the first day. The results were that most media representatives who started out at 7 a.m. in fear of chaotic congestion had to fight a massive traffic jam to reach the exhibition center.
The city said they had strongly suggested people leave their car sat home and dispatched hundreds of policemen, but this did not help. People were stuck in traffic all morning and most chose to walk.
But they also had to deal with policemen who blocked several gates without any explanation. Groups of journalists had no other option but to move from gate to gate to get in.
The hassles did not end there. Journalists then had to line up to receive a press card, which took another hour or so.
When they finally got inside, it was lunch and they missed most important events scheduled for the morning.
It was no wonder there was so much traffic on the roads and it took hours to get press cards when looking at women with children going around the venue to pick up free press kits and middle-aged men taking picture of female models with their cellphones. Everyone was allowed to enter the venue during the press days as long as they bought a ticket.
The auto show also lacked facilities for journalists whose job is to write and send stories. The wireless Internet connection was unstable and press rooms housed less than 100.
Although it promotes itself as an international event, it was hard to find people at information booths who could speak English.
And there were plenty more things to complain about. It is disappointing for an international event, in comparison with other established ones.
By looking around exhibits by Chinese automakers, it later occurred to this reporter, why didn’t the organizers use automakers’ favorite yet infamous strategy to run this global event, namely copying successful ones?
It was not difficult to find copycats of famous cars by global brands at many domestic stands and the organizers in Beijing should have copied successful auto shows as domestic automakers did to organize their own trade show successfully.
Maybe, the organizers made the same mistakes as some automaker did. They only cared about the exterior rather than the interior and the results were disappointing.