Organizing a successful car show is no small feat. Typically it involves a few dedicated individuals coordinating hundreds of owners, potentially thousands of attendees, and garnering support of sponsors. Many of the most popular events do this year after year and were more than ready to go in 2020. As we all now know, the world had slightly different plans for us and almost every public gathering has been either cancelled or postponed until at least next year.
Some show organizers weren’t willing to go out without a fight though and managed to come up with some creative ways of bringing their community together, albeit virtually. While every car enthusiast is waiting for the day that in-person gatherings are allowed again, the traction these events have garnered among their audiences may lead them to become more widespread.
The St. Ignace car show, a small event in Michigan, was cancelled and replaced with a virtual effort where participants could come take pictures of their car – while socially distancing – in front of a specific landmark and then post it on Facebook and their website. At the end, all entries will be collected and the winners get a free 2 night stay at the hotel. This is an especially creative solution as it gets people out and about safely, and is driving traffic to the hotel!
Radwood, an 80’s themed auto club, also took a stab at a virtual event by allowing contestants to post their cars to certain hashtags on Instagram. Once the participants contributed, the sponsors went through and voted for the best. The tough part with Instagram is unless you search for the specific tag, it leaves all the entries in disparate profiles across the app. That makes it incredibly unlikely general users would ever see the lineup of cars or know the results.
Cruising Bob’s Classic Car Show managed to still raise $5000 for charity by promoting an online option where fans could go and upload a single photo of their car. This was facilitated through a local bank website that hosted the images. This was a valiant effort to coordinate with a local bank and manage to raise so much for charity in the process.
These examples are just a few of many others across the country trying to adapt to the current situation by continuing to engage and entertain their automotive communities remotely. They should all be commended for the swift decision making and ability to put something together quickly, but the experience thus far tends to leave a lot to be desired. The tough part is that a computer automatically removes parts of the visceral emotions you can get from listening to and looking at a car. As such, a virtual option requires more focus on the quality of the images involved as well as any available background information to attempt to make up for that loss.
One show that did this quite well was the Concours Virtual Presented By Hagerty. This presentation involved some incredible vehicles from years that spanned the existence of automobiles over the last two centuries. Each entry had a hand crafted back story and interesting information, along with plenty of high quality photos. Thousands of people visited this virtual event and it likely raised a lot of money for it’s cause, UNICEF. Unfortunately, most car shows don’t have access to the capital, connections and engineering resources to build out their own web platform to host their events.
Topmarq is a software platform working to fill that gap by making it easy for car show organizers to host their own interactive virtual events. Rather than try to retrofit an old website or hire an expensive agency, organizations can just create their own car show and share the lobby with their community. Participants can contribute photos, videos and background stories to customizable classes, while attendees vote for their favorites and chat with the owners.
The turnout for these creative virtual solutions might indicate that there will be continued demand for them in the future and Topmarq seems to think so too. Perhaps the two types will eventually be mixed so that each show could be in-person for those who can attend, and virtual for those who can’t. Either way, we can be sure that car fans will be back at the shows as soon as they open back up.