At the conclusion of the convention, a few friends and I were having lunch and discussing the show highlights. We talked about the important stuff, like the coolest new product release; and we talked about the not so important stuff, like the parties. That conversation led to the creation of the first annual DrivingSales “Attendee Choice Awards” where we will nominate, and let the users add their own thoughts, to the most memorable moments of the Convention.
The awards are 100% scientifically false. There is no rhyme or reason here, just fun memories. Add your own, disagree with ours or just simply smile as you read the list: (Naturally you know this is simply a bunch of opinion, and is in NO WAY affiliated with the convnetion or the people who put it on.)
Here it goes:
Best face-off between two vendors: vAuto v.s. First Look - They were literally 10 feet across the walkway, you could stand at one booth and hear the other’s pitch! (and we thought only GM dealers dealt with close competition like that!)
Coolest new product: IzmoIndy – It is actually in alpha, but it’s still worth a mention. It’s a platform to create as many SEO Friendly websites as you want with a simple editor anyone can use! No need for programming expertise, or a vendor to do make the changes... more on this later.
The “Are you serious” booth: Full size custom van conversions? I thought $4 gas (and the consumer trends this last decade) killed that market… guess not. You learn something new every day.
Best use of our tax dollars: GMAC Booth! -Self-explanatory.
Best Event location: Tie: OneCommand at the Center of Bourbon Street -or –DealerTrack at the Aquarium,(Charlie called it “the freshest sushi bar in town.”) DealerTrack was bigger, BUT OneCommand had Hammer there. How often do you get to dance with Hammer?
Wildest Executive: <censored> If you want the dirt, I'd have to send you my paypal account.
Favorite Speaker: Jared Hamilton - Leveraging the Social Web. Build Your Business; Grow Your Brand. (Sorry Jim, had to nominate myself. However I will readily admit Ziegler certainly drew a bigger crowd than me… clearly Im biased.)
Busiest Booth: DealerSocket - Every time I walked by the seats were full and they were doing demos. They even had an ultimate fighter standing guard who couldnt keep the dealers out!
Iron Man Winner, ie Non stop show go-er - Work all day & Party all night : Im pleading the 5th on this one, need user nominations. Add your own below.
Coolest Car on Display: The Saleen Charger in the Chrysler booth. It was BEAUTIFUL!! It even caught the eye of Hammer, the famous rapper - "Cant touch this!"
Most oddly innovative Vendor: The people charging for teeth whitening at the center of the convention. They must have made a fortune. Strange but creative, it seemed to work! (every sales person needs a good first impression, pearly whites help.)
Best Hair: Charlie Vogelheim – Any disputes?
Best Billy Idol/Bono impersonation: Andrew Price at the Bourbon St Blues Co.
Best Flashback: Starship – they played at the Aspen Party, “We built this city on ROOOCK and ROOOOOOOOOLLLL!”
Most Talked About M&A Activity: DealerTrack purchasing AAX from JM Solutions, announcement came just before the convention begam, lots of talk about that.
Biggest smiles/happiest team: Dealer.com – After 10 years of hard work and helping thousands of dealers… these guys deserve to smile! They have a great opportunity now with Canadian dealers.
Strongest Dealer Focus For 2009:
1: Web Marketing. Those with solutions proven to cut costs and increase sales through digital mediums were clearly the winners at this year’s show, as they should be.
2: Fixed Operations were also a big buzz. We are going to sell 5 million less vehicles this year, that means the cars on the road are aging and need more servicing presenting a HUGE opportunity for dealers.
All in all, the show was leaner, but still worthwhile for those there with a focus to get things done. Dealers are looking for solutions and this industry will come back strong after this economic storm blows over. There were fewer crowds to fight and some GREAT solutions being presented. Feel free to add your own “memorable moments” to the awards through the comments. See you next year!