The country’s largest and longest-running auto spectacle goes online
By Kap Maceda Aguila
ORIGINALLY scheduled to ensue last April 2 to 5, this year’s Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) was sadly (but understandably) aborted due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a painful but necessary move to assure the safety of participants and attendees. “In light of the recent turn of events concerning COVID-19, which has led the Philippine government to declare a state of public health emergency, the management of Worldbex Services International has come to the decision to temporarily postpone MIAS 2020,” the show organizers had said in a statement.
But now, the country’s longest-running and largest car show is back on track — albeit digitally — as it sets to serve up its expected smorgasbord of everything automotive from Nov. 26 to 30.
Rechristened “MIAS Wired,” this now takes the place of what should have been the 15th staging last summer. “It’s a milestone year for us, so we felt disappointed we could not push through with a live event,” said event co-organizer Alvin Uy to “Velocity” in an interview. “We decided to try out this virtual platform so that we get to continue the tradition of holding MIAS, albeit on a virtual space this year.”
It should be noted, too, that the organizers are still hoping for better days ahead, and have booked the old MIAS haunt, the World Trade Center in Pasay City, for April 5 to 8 next year. “But we will, of course, abide by the guidance of IATF and related agencies if we can push through or not. Hopefully we can see a clearer picture by end of the year,” stressed Mr. Uy.
Back to MIAS Wired, we asked Mr. Uy to describe the reception of participating brands when they broached the idea of a virtual auto show. “They had many questions like how it will be conducted, what are the tech requirements, how will we reach out to the viewers, etc. We explained to our exhibitor partners that having a virtual event allows the event to have a much wider reach on a national scale which will benefit their regional dealers and customers,” he revealed. While the lineup of marques has not been revealed yet, Mr. Uy did say that they’ve approached all the companies who had signed up for the original (physical) event that should have happened last April.
He admitted that since this is a first for MIAS, there are concerns on how “seamless” the experience will be. “Hopefully we can fully address these and perform up to expectations. We made the costs very reasonable as well so more brands can join. Since MIAS has a strong track record of gathering visitors to the live event in the past, and we hope to translate this in the virtual world.”
MIAS was first held in 2005 over a modest footprint of 6,000 square meters of indoor space and an additional outdoor area of 3,000 square meters. According to Mr. Uy and co-organizer Jason Ang, the yearly event is “envisioned to be a world-class spectacle competitive with the region’s best.” Last year, the exhibition drew a record 142,000-plus attendees.
While there are obvious limitations with virtual events, Mr. Uy and company hope to leverage the opportunities inherent to the digital medium. “Aside from having a nationwide reach, we extended the show dates from four to five days. And the 360-degree 3D virtual showcase will be made available to the brand’s visitors for six months, not just days,” he related. Still, Mr. Uy maintained that other features of MIAS Wired will cease after the end of the show, so there’s a definite premium in attending the free event.
Other benefits include a chat feature so potential customers can reach out to the participating brands directly for inquiries, and guests can drop in at any time to check out the goings on. For the organizers, “the cost of running the show is much less than a live event, and at this time of the pandemic, we believe it is the best platform to reach out to our car-loving audience and market.” Attendees missing the live staging of a launch need not fret as these can be viewed later, on demand, during the five-day run.
For updates, visit manilaautoshow.com.