Salon Prive is a three-day, ticketed premium auto event in Britain that combines a car show and auction with a concours d'elegance competition, drawing fans and potential buyers of rare vintage cars and motorcycles, sports cars and supercars. Last September's edition of the event marked its 10th year with a move to a new venue two hours outside of London at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
The event allows premium brands to showcase their vehicles and associated services for owners, collectors and buyers, while also meeting possible new buyers.
"The basis of the event is sales; we created Salon Prive so that manufacturers can sell luxury cars," says David Bagley, sales director and co-founder.
The luxury event is ticketed, with adult entrance fees going up to £250 (HK$2,770) per day for the full hospitality package. Bagley says the price of the tickets reflects the target audience - high-net-worth individuals.
Challenges and measures
September 2015 was the first time that the event was held outside of London. The new venue was in a countryside setting, on vast lawns surrounding a magnificent 18th-century palace.
"There's always a degree of uncertainty when using a new venue, especially one so different from our previous years in London," Bagley says. "Salon Prive is a big event, attracting thousands of VIP visitors."
To make sure standards were maintained at the new venue, Salon Prive retained contracts with most of the suppliers they had used in previous years, basing the number of visitors on past attendance. "We used the same caterers we had used for four years, and the same marquee contractors for five or six years. These are companies very capable of hosting prestigious events in open venues. The long-term contracts made it so much easier - they knew what we wanted, even if the venue was radically different," Bagley says. "Our attitude is that we further refine each year in terms of quality of food, reducing wastage, and so on."
The event saw an increase of 9 per cent on VIP tickets sold, taking the tally up to 5,500. There were also an extra 5,000 visitors on the final day, the Pirelli Prestige and Performance day, as the organisers opened the event up to the public for the first time by selling more affordably priced tickets.
"The increase of 9 per cent in ticket sales for a venue outside of London is very pleasing. Blenheim Palace gave us the chance to expand, and the bigger venue handled the 11,000 visitors comfortably," Bagley says. "The more family-friendly public day showed we are exclusive, but also aspirational and attractive to future buyers."
While exhibitors were guarded on releasing sales figures, manufacturers reported that they sold enough to return next year. Total sales at the car auction were in the "millions of pounds", according to Bagley.