The Value – Issue #10: TalkAUTO – Canada’s Premier Automotive Industry Conference

Welcome to The Canadian Black Book – The Value. Our goal is to provide our clients and partners with news, event updates, new initiatives and opinions from Canada’s trusted source for vehicle values and automotive insights. In this edition we cover:

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By: Rui Nunes, Director Sales & Customer Experience, Canadian Black Book

From humble beginnings in 2012 to its widespread visibility today, 2018 TalkAUTO is the 7th edition of this premier Canadian auto industry conference.  The event has grown from just over 100 attendees in year one, to over 600 who registered last year, cementing itself as perhaps the most sought after Canadian automotive conference of its kind.

Being relatively new at Canadian Black Book, I have personally attended the conference only once prior in 2017.  Before last year’s TalkAUTO, not knowing what to expect, I had no frame of reference for the special place this conference holds in the hearts of its organizers, delegates and sponsors from across the auto industry.

As the lead person tasked with procuring sponsorships for the event, I soon began to understand how TalkAUTO differs from competing conferences and the unique value proposition it provides.  TalkAUTO is run as a not-for-profit conference.  It is through the generosity of conference sponsors that this event continually surpasses previous years’ expectations.  A key reason attendees love it – it is not about selling, it is about gaining valuable insights from some of the industry’s leading authorities. Dealers, in particular, find the content to be specifically relevant to the rapidly changing retail landscape.

TalkAUTO Canada was conceived as a thought-leadership conference, a place for senior automotive executives to liaise and network professionally, at a conference that emphasizes keynote speechers and panel discussions.  The emphasis is to discuss innovation, solve challenges and break-down the latest trends across the industry, at a small, intimate and personal conference.  Oh, did I mention admission is free to all attendees?

As compelling as these reasons are for attending and sponsoring the event, none are more convincing than the outstanding quality of our speakers and panelists.    Simply put, those in attendance appreciate hearing from industry heavyweights.  A “who’s who” of leading movers and shakers.  This year, TalkAUTO is already generating a buzz for securing fascinating keynote speakers from inside and outside the automotive industry.

For example, Sheryl Connelly, Futurist at Ford Motor Company, will discuss how shifting global priorities, political upheaval and social inequity are challenging how companies navigate through this time of uncertainty.  Or Dan McGrath, COO at Cineplex Entertainment who will discuss his company’s resurgence and response to online streaming services.  We specifically included a keynote speaker from the entertainment industry to learn how Cineplex pivoted their brand in the face of adversity and how they adapted to massive disruption.

Our forward-looking theme for this year is “Who moved my keys?  Adapting to change in a new marketplace”.  We’re hinting at the disruption we are seeing in the Canadian automotive landscape.  Everything from digital retail, ‘Big Data’, car sharing services, OEM subscription services, telematics, autonomy, EVs, etc.  As this evolves, the industry and particularly dealers need to prepare for a far different revenue model.  These are some examples of the types of hot button topics that our speakers and panelists will ponder and challenge the audience to consider.

Automotive retailers will be particularly interested in the moderated Dealer Panel discussion between innovative automotive retail groups from across Canada.  Retailers will benchmark best practices with their peers, share a wide range of business challenges and discuss rising trends with a unique regional perspective from coast-to-coast.

From the beginning, Canadian Black Book and J.D. Power partnered to create and host this unique automotive conference.  These two auto industry icons work closely with all of our sponsors to find the perfect fit for their brand.  There is no one size fits all approach.  No two organizations are the same and it’s of paramount importance to understand their specific needs, advertising goals and corporate culture.  I believe this personalized approach makes TalkAUTO different from competing conferences and reinforces the fierce loyalty of our sponsors.  Many have been with us since the very beginning and it is through their continued support, we are able to keep TalAUTO a ‘free to attend’ conference.

After asking one particular sponsor why they chose to promote their brand at TalkAUTO, their answer resonated with me – they see the conference as a coming out party for their brand after recently listing on the TSX Venture Exchange.  This sponsor is acutely aware that the calibre of the audience, under one roof, with all eyes on their brand.  This type of exposure elsewhere could be costly, even hard to find.

Another sponsor described TalkAUTO as an excellent opportunity to benchmark professionally and keep their finger on the pulse of the auto industry.  A one-stop-shop where their management team can validate and compare notes with their peers.

I’m looking forward to another great conference this year as we openly discuss the challenges, opportunities and trends impacting the Canadian automotive space.  TalkAUTO takes place on November 7, 2018 at the Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, ON.

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