6 reasons we’re not doing them anymore
I suppose we should really be flattered. Exactly two years – yes a whole TWO years – after our last big car meet (MME Meet 13 at Dubai Festival City – read about it here) people still ask us when our next Meet will be. And they’re usually disappointed with the response.
Well in case people still haven’t figured it out yet: we’re not doing Car Meets at present. Never say never, of course, and if a big sponsor comes forward and wants to collaborate we could always put the band back together again!
However, having started the Car Meets in 2011 with just 25 cars at Fat Burgers on Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Road (under the CAR Middle East banner, the magazine I was running at the time), and grown them to absolute monsters – one of our Meets pulled in over a thousand vehicles and caused traffic to come to a standstill around Festival City Mall on a Friday afternoon (read about it here) – we decided to call it a day and move on.
Yet we are frequently asked why we quit the Meets? So here are the reasons:
1. They stopped being fun!
This is first and foremost. We started doing the Meets because we’re car guys and we love to hang out around cars with other car people. When they were small informal events that didn’t really need to be ‘organised’ as such, they were a laugh to do and genuinely enjoyable.
As they grew bigger, they needed to be organised, monitored, supervised, controlled… they became work, hard work, serious work. We’d ended up being stressed right up until the point they were over, then we’d want to go home and crash into bed, just grateful that we got through the day without any major mishap or issues.
Everyone had a great time, except us!
2. They became costly
So once you have to start to get cars and people safely in and out of a Car Meet venue, you need marshals (paid and unpaid) and security (usually expensive) to manage things. But when you start to do things like that, participants’ expectations increase too.
So for example, for the last Car Meet we had to rent a large secure space, control entry and exit points, arrange for lighting, arrange for toilets, register participants, create a micro website just for the event, produced flags and banners, organise F&B, make sure all the cars got parked together but in the right place with plenty of room for manoeuvre and pedestrians, and we had to make provisions for fire and safety. We had more than 30 people working for us!
So it went from being an easy-going monthly get together to an event that consumed six weeks of our energy and time, as well as tons of investment, to actually make happen. We’re not eccentric millionaires, charitable organisations or stupid you know – well not entirely stupid anyway. So we had to ask ourselves – why are we doing these again?
3. So why not get sponsors and exhibitors?
Sure. And we did. But it’s easier said than done. Corporations here don’t really understand the value of events like this. They understand shows, like Motor Shows, in exhibition halls – but ask the organisers of those events about sponsors and exhibitors, and even they’ll likely get extremely agitated, the latent tick will return aggressively and eventually crescendo to a full blow uncontrollable fit of hysteria. It can be quite traumatic, trust me.
Ideally you’d get one big headline sponsor to cover the main bulk of the cost, but that’s hard, so you have to canvas lots of smaller ones, and that means multiple discussions, meetings, agreements, requirements, action plans, expectations etc. You kill yourself just trying to make sure the sponsors/exhibitors are happy, satisfied and not whining and moaning – as well as screwing you over costs and threatening to pull out at the last minute, and indeed doing so.
The sponsors then become more important than the participants. And that’s just wrong.
Oh and don’t throw that old suggestion about charging participants to come to Meets at me. It’s hard enough to get them to register, so they certainly don’t want to pay. And it still wouldn’t be enough to cover the ground rent let alone anything else.
Besides what are we charging for exactly? People sometimes asks what actually happens at a Meet – well nothing. You just turn up, park, and hang out. Then you go home.
‘You paid AED50 to go stand in a car park for 3 hours?! That could have got you a movie AND some popcorn!’
4. Too many or too little
You can never be sure how many people will turn up – precisely because of the points above. Sometimes there could be another event going on somewhere, or the weather’s too hot, or the timing and location doesn’t appeal, or people just get up that day and decide they can’t be bothered.
Conversely it could go out of control. Your Meet could go viral, and suddenly the clubs all start locking horns and getting competitive. One muscle car club decides it will attend en masse, then a rival club decides it needs to make a show of strength too. Meanwhile a third is formed, simply because it didn’t exist before – yes our Meet actually gave birth to clubs too – and that’s another 30 cars to accommodate.
And God help you if one of the truck clubs decide to turn up – try finding space for 60 tricked out Silverados all arriving together!
5. People don’t know Meet etiquette
CarShowTV.com recently put up a great article about Car Show Etiquette, and I really wished someone had done that when we did Meets – cause it absolutely hits the nail on the head!
Because just simple things like respecting the organisers (who have put in all their own time, effort and energy to create an event for other people to come and enjoy free of charge), abiding by the rules and requirements, following guidance and instructions, not hooning and driving dangerously, not getting into fights and arguments (especially with the organisers), not posturing and provoking, parking yourselves sensibly and safely, not doing burnouts (I know this falls under a previous point but it needs a mention all of itself) and not complaining (threateningly so) about people taking and posting photos of your wife on social media, especially after you got her to drive to a car meet (packed with dudes with cameras) in a convertible supercar with the top down – oh yes, THAT happened.
And when it comes to our region there’s also the question of appropriate attire and inappropriate gangsta rap blasting out of 20,000 mega watt speakers – these are meant to be family events. But we end up having to police for this.
6. Other people are doing them now
And the final reason is very simple. From late last year to this point in 2015 we’ve attended a massive car festival at Meydan, a huge Car Meet in Al Ain, a big JDM event at the Cricket Stadium, as well as Swap Meets at the Dubai Autodrome and events at Bikers Cafe and Cafe Rider, as well as others, with yet one more large car show at the Autodrome happening on 4th April (Performance Fest DXB – we’ll be there). Most of which we’ve covered on MotoringME.com and on our Facebook page (Motoring Middle East).
There are more car shows, events and Meets than ever before. You’re all spoilt for choice! So really the question is: why should we take on the considerable burden of doing Meets when we can simply rock up to and cover other peoples’ events and enjoy them for the simple reason we started Car Meets in the first place: we like hanging out around cars and with other car people!
See you at the next one.
Great article Shahzad! Ironically it’s refreshing to learn that there are similar problems that we experience with meets, all over the world! Thanks for the recognition and plug; we agree with just about everything you have here.
Great feature mate and so very true….People do not realise how much hard work goes into organising such events, the hours are endless and in the end it is a thankless task but, in a strange way, rewarding…..
Well exactly. But right now we’re finding it more rewarding attending other people’s events 😉
Nice article Shahzad. Your saying exactly what I said back in 2007. Seems like little has changed in the 8 years. Oh well…………….. it was fun while it lasted.