The automotive conference.
A vast hall of carpet, curtains, and creative booths conveying car-related commerce.
This is undoubtedly the image that appears when we think of an automotive conference (your Digital Dealers, your NADAs), and there is nothing wrong with that! The format is conducive to learning on the go, getting information on new products and processes, and networking with industry fellows. These conferences do a great job of making automotive education entertaining.
But everything needs a bit of shaking up, now and again. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
So, let's go to camp!
DealerKnows is an Automotive Consulting Company Focusing on Elevating Everyone in the Dealership World
Joe Webb and Bill Playford of DealerKnows are no strangers to bringing a different — and fun — approach to the world of training in automotive retail.
So, it's no surprise that when it came time to think about what they could offer the automotive conference game, DealerKnows went in the complete opposite direction of the typical convention:
The Great Outdoors.
The result? An amazingly refreshing spin on the stuffy automotive conference that focused on intimate sessions, team building, and speakers from beyond the automotive sphere that inspire and challenge dealers. And of course, getting back to nature.
3 Ways DealerKnows Summer Camp Breathed New Life into the Automotive Conference
So, what did the DealerKnows Summer Camp do to turn the automotive conference on its head? It did a few things, actually:
No big city. Back to nature.
No mile-high skyscrapers and busy freeways. No dangerous street to cross to the convention center. Just beautiful Camp Blue Ridge, clean air, and the ambient sounds of nature.
We're all used to checking into our hotels and hitting the local steakhouse. These are amazing creature comforts, for sure. But there is something special about being in a more reserved lodge (I stayed at The Dillard House close by, not in a tent, by the way) surrounded by horses that brings an unheard-of serenity to the pre-automotive conference atmosphere.
I really can't say I've enjoyed inhaling the Vegas air after breakfast at other automotive conferences. But the cool, crisp Georgia air energized the heck out of me, to be honest.
Unique speakers with new perspectives.
Obviously, this is an automotive consulting-focused conference led by DealerKnows Consulting. So, you're going to attend a session led by an automotive industry expert. And you're going to attend a session discussing emerging technology and vendor utilization. And you're going to get lectured on how to tackle your internet sales leads.
But, you're also going to hear about why DEI is so important for your organization from Max Joseph. And you're also going to be inspired by April Holmes to succeed and prosper in the face of tragedy, adversity, and hardship. You're going to learn how cause-based marketing can elevate the perception of your dealership from Ryan Leslie.
These are aspects of the business that I don't think many dealers pay mind to, so adding this to the typical automotive education is frankly a genius move by Joe Webb and Bill Playford, and is ensuring that dealership training is an all-rounded offering.
Team-building that doesn't involve a sports bar.
You walk around the convention center. Pick up swag from all the booths. Head back to the hotel and get ready for the post-conference bar hangs. It's a tale as old as time.
I don't know about you, but hiking and shooting arrows in between speaking sessions was truly something special to experience, and unlike anything I've experienced in automotive before. This goes beyond classroom-adjacent internet training. This is hands on consulting at the next level.
Watching attendees passionately compete in canoe racing brought nothing but laughs and positive energy to onlookers, and paved the way for more laughs and stories later on in the conference. This was team-building at its most memorable and fun.
Look Forward to More DealerKnows Summer Camps
As of writing this, I'm told that Joe Webb has received much in the way of future promised attendance by those who unfortunately missed the event, as well as a large expression of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Hope is high that this will not be the last we hear of the DealerKnows Summer Camp experience.
Fingers crossed that DealerKnows takes all of the best parts of their first conference effort and only works to further refine and optimize the experience for future camps. The energy was palpable, the enthusiasm was infectious, and the setting was beautiful and a welcome change.
I'm happy to say I was there to witness the beginning and the exciting potential it showed.
Let's go to camp, everyone!
ActivEngage: A Proud Sponsor of the DealerKnows Summer Camp
Being the first fully managed live messaging offering for car dealerships back in 2007, we saw a kindred spirit in the DealerKnows Summer Camp and it's an innovative take on the formula.
We were proud to help sponsor this event and help out with the transportation to Camp Blue Ridge, offering in-bus entertainment and some fun spoof commercials detailing our core products and services: