Coronavirus threatens Geneva, but Motor Show will go on

The so-called coronavirus (Covid-19) is threatening Europe’s largest motoring events, with some sources suggesting that March’s Geneva Motor Show won’t be able to take place. However, a statement published by Palexpo (the Geneva Motor Show’s organising company) said the show will go on and that the exhibition is taking all recommended steps.

“In the context of the coronavirus epidemic afflicting China, Palexpo SA is carefully observing the situation and its possible implications for exhibitors, visitors, partners and employees in view of the upcoming events in the Palexpo halls.

“However, the organisers encourage exhibitors from at-risk areas to ensure that their staff pass the necessary checks and do not show any symptoms of infection in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Switzerland, so as to avoid any risk of spread that could result from their presence in Geneva vis-à-vis the staff of other exhibitors and other visitors.

“Palexpo is in regular contact with the General Directorate of Health of the Republic and Canton of Geneva and its medical advisor to develop a sanitary action plan, adjustable in real time.”

The measures being implemented by Palexpo include:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products
  • Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
  • Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitising/disinfection products, etc.
  • Installing new signage on-site, reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations

Analyst predicts Geneva Motor Show will struggle

However, following the news that this year’s Beijing auto show – planned for April – is being postponed due to the coronavirus health crisis, David Leggett, Automotive Editor at data and analytics company GlobalData, offers his view that the Geneva Motor Show could be affected as well:

“The coronavirus public health crisis alone puts a big question-mark next to this year’s Geneva Motor Show, scheduled for March. The organisers will be closely monitoring the crisis, as will exhibitors. If one or two exhibitors decide the health risks to staff are too high, that will likely trigger more to withdraw until the show looks unsustainable.

“But the truth is, big motor shows are losing favour anyway as big marketing opportunities for the car companies. Falling visitor numbers suggest that enthusiasts and potential car buyers are less inclined to attend.

Brands that will not be present at Geneva this year include Cadillac, Citroen, Ford, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Subaru, Tata and Volvo – that is quite a long list.

“Thanks to the internet and burgeoning news and car websites, new models have been seen online well in advance. Car shows are also expensive places to exhibit at and the old ‘A-list’ circuit – Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, Detroit and Tokyo – has been supplemented by increasing competition from shows in emerging markets where presence has been seen as more future-facing. That creates additional pressure on marketing budgets.

“Indeed, companies such as Ford have re-examined their marketing budgets and strategies, now favouring big dedicated major model launch events that they can get many journalists to for maximised media coverage.”

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