I’ve been monitoring the bizarre (and incompetent) marketing of the posh hospitality area at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix (now formerly) called “GP Traction”. I attended the 2007 F1 GP from there and had a very enjoyable time. Since then, it has not been promoted and in December 2007 the Grand Prix corporation seemed unsure whether it would be offered again.
A few days ago the Traction domain went dead. I became more suspicious, despite the Ticketek website listing Traction tickets as being “on sale soon”.
Having just spoken to the Grand Prix corporation on the phone today, I can finally confirm that it is being offered again in 2008, at the same place on the track, and it is being renamed “Sidetrack”. Woo hoo.
Ticket sales are supposedly only a week or so away. So, less than two months to sell an expensive, poorly marketed (hence poorly understood) and poorly developed product to an indifferent audience. Many serious F1 fans, not having heard about Traction/Sidetrack (either for the first time or after being previous customers), will have bought grandstand seats, decided to enjoy the excellent value of general admission (which they can buy at the gate on the day), or given up on the Grand Prix (and the GP corporation) completely.
The thing that annoys me most is the absolute failure of marketing and customer service. They had my email address in their database since I bought tickets in December 2006 for the GP in March 2007 but did not try to market any tickets to me, such as alternate grandstand seats, or tempt me with ‘coming soon’ information about Sidetrack. Motor racing is a popular spectator sport but it does not sell itself. It needs to be properly managed like anything else.
I love F1 and will be miserable when it leaves Melbourne after 2010, and I will blame the GP corporation for failing to meet the needs of the Australian F1 audience. F1 will leave Australia not because there is no audience here, but because the audience has been poorly served by the GP corporation, and has consequently chosen to not attend the event. The GP corporation doesn’t understand or care about the audience it serves. They barely understand the product they are selling or why some people love it. They deserve to lose their jobs (and they probably will when the F1 goes).