Conference Week 2012

Yesterday's keynote speakers told delegates that opportunities await for clubs willing to embrace change.


With the focus moving from orientation to a more strategic outlook on day two of Conference Week, both of yesterday's keynote speakers highlighted the need for clubs to adapt to a changing environment if they are to prosper in the future.

First, in his address ‘Future Trends in Mobility’, leading US strategic development expert Michael Gallis (pictured) told delegates that with the world undergoing a period of massive change in the wake of the fall of communism and the opening up of trade with large economies such as China, it is only through communication with peers and policy-makers that clubs can adapt to new transportation landscapes.

“Movement globally is changing hugely and every part of the world is undergoing that process, but not in the same manner,” he said. “Every area has its own challenges and opportunities and the biggest issue when we talk about those opportunities is whether we actually see them. “In some parts of the world there is enormous insecurity – mainly in North America and Europe.

It’s a case of where are we going now? But in other regions, particular Asia, they see this as the moment of greatest opportunity. “For the members of the FIA, this is also a great opportunity for groups involved in mobility and infrastructure to share ideas on what’s going on in their part of the world and to learn from the experience of their peers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re from a region looking forward or one mired in problems, the same key question clubs need to ask each other is: how do we become relevant in this time of change?”

For Gallis the solution is simple – adapt and prosper. “We have to begin to think about innovating,” he said. “We have to think about the world we want to live in and how we shape that world and doing that is about communication.

Shared lessons are important. A prime example would be regions in the Middle-East with huge wealth and looking to build infrastructure. They are looking to the west’s experience and trying to avoid the mistakes of the past. By the same token, the west should be looking at what emerging regions are doing for any new thinking that might help them deal with their problems.” Gallis’ talk was followed by a discussion session in which club members told their own experiences.

Thierry Willemarck of Belgium’s TCB spoke of finding solutions to the chronic traffic congestion in Brussels and Antwerp, a problem echoed about Toronto by Jeff Walker of Canada’s CAA. Colin Jordan of RACV empathised, adding that Australia has one the highest urban populations in the world with 90 per cent of inhabitants living in cities. Mahir Badri of ATCUAE summed up the panel’s feelings by saying: “We have to be aware of the changes happening across the world and we have to work towards building up our global federation to move forward with better vehicles, better infrastructure and better consumers.”

The development of models to deliver that to club members was the subject of the second keynote address. Delivered by business and customer relations expert Larry Hochman, the ‘Future Trends in Membership’ address looked at potential new club models and ways in which clubs could hold on to ‘members for life’. “Membership is going to be about relevance in people’s lives,” he said, “especially when you’re coming up against a demographic that shows there will be less cars and fewer young people getting driving licenses. It’s not about customers being loyal to you, it’s about your loyalty to your best customers, gauging what they want, and you only get that by really engaging with them,” he added. “And the basic questions you should be asking are: Do you trust us? If not, why not? And would you recommend us? If yes, why? You have to be brave in asking, accept the answer and make changes as necessary.”


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