The Chicago Auto Show is trying new attendee registration technology this year to fortify its position as a critical lead provider for automakers.
Instead of visitors having to give their contact information to each product specialist they meet during the show, they’ll be able to enter into a central registration system that allows them to get their tickets scanned if they want manufacturers to follow up with them. The show hopes that the epass technology will help automakers gather some of the estimated 50,000 leads that go uncollected from the show floor.
Dave Sloan, general manager of the Chicago Auto Show, says the epasses will ensure that the conversations consumers have with specialists are about the vehicles rather than how to spell their last names.
While auto shows still attract huge swaths of consumers, the role of the events has come into question in recent years. The doubt stems from brands launching vehicles at their own, off-site events, rather than during formal press days, or sitting out the shows to cut costs.
But Sloan said he disagrees that auto shows are past their prime. Finding new ways to generate leads from the show floor can add to the value proposition of the events, which are known to draw a bevy of in-market shoppers.
He said the show is adding 55,000 square feet of space this year, putting the total at nearly 1.1 million square feet. The public show runs from Saturday, Feb. 11, through Feb. 20.
“One automaker told me this summer [that] the leads they get from auto shows are five times more likely to turn into a sale compared to other experiential events they do. They know auto shows are delivering,” Sloan told Automotive News. “If we can get them more of this information, that’s great for the automakers.”
The epass quick response – or QR -- code is printed on the show’s admittance ticket. Once visitors get their tickets, they can activate their epass at one of the kiosks throughout McCormick Place and register by entering their name, email address and ZIP code. Those who buy tickets online only have to scan their epass to activate.
The one-time registration means consumers can scan their tickets at the kiosks at automaker displays to share their information. Those who activate their epasses have a chance to win gasoline cards.
The Chicago show also will continue to use beacon technology this year, which it first piloted in 2015. Beacons are wireless digital transmitters around the exhibition hall that can track the movements of show visitors and communicate with them through their smartphones via Bluetooth as they wander the show floor.
The beacons beam messages to the phones of visitors who have downloaded the show’s app.
“The automakers want to be here because of the marketing power of our show. That goes contrary to what you’ve been reading about [on whether] auto shows are past their prime,” Sloan said. “I would counter that. The marketing side of it is going gangbusters.”