Unless you're deep in the bowels of the automotive journalism industry, it may come as a surprise the Paris Auto Show is — despite the big reveals and beautiful flora and fauna — one of the worst of the global shows to cover. First off, the show is big. Really big. It's over a half mile across, and spread out over six main buildings with huge elevation changes — that's a lot of hiking. To compound this issue, the press room is on the far side of the convention center campus, half a mile away from anything useful. And, as we said two years ago, albeit more colorfully, it's the world's worst press room. So terrible is it in fact, we managed to use it for all of about 10 minutes before running to happier pastures at Volvo (thanks Volvo!). But, as a service to the Paris Motor Show planning committee, we've put together a list of the top ten reasons the Paris Motor Show press room sucks, along with ways to improve it.
What's Wrong: Chairs are one of those things you should sacrifice for the sake of comfort over making a design statement. The chairs in the press room may look nice, but after an hour of seat time they try to consume your soul through your back side. How To Fix It: Function over form, people. Suck up your silly Euro pride and get over to Michigan and buy yourself some Haworth or Steelcase chairs.
What's Wrong: Nothing is worse than needing power, hooking up your voltage adapter, and blocking the adjacent ports so people in the same situation are out of luck. How To Fix It: Take a tip from the Tokyo Motor Show and put multi-voltage, multi-port hubs on the top of the desks. With multi-port hubs, you make everybody happy and plugging in power strips in your native voltage becomes a snap.
What's Wrong: In the press rooms at most major shows there's a dedicated set of labeled cubbies with all of the available press releases and a staff there to deliver what you ask for and keep everything in stock and neat and tidy. At Paris there are some wood boxes and nobody to do anything about the wretched state they devolve into. How To Fix It: Let's work on that. Assign someone to the press release cubby area and have them, you know, figure this shit out.
What's Wrong: Hey Paris, the age of the desktop is over. Anybody press person traveling to the Paris Motor Show really should have a laptop and one would think they'd prefer it over a big clumsy desktop. Instead of having 15-20% more desktop space, 80% of the press room is loaded up with staffers camping out on desktops because there are no more hard lines anywhere else. How To Fix It: Dump 90% of the desktops and keep a couple in the corner for the gray hair auto journos and print mag head honchos who've yet to figure out why a laptop might be important for them to bring with them.
What's Wrong: It may sound like a little thing, but when you're walking five to ten miles a day with a heavy bag of camera gear, doing acrobatics to get a good shot under the hot spotlights, running from press conference to press conference and battling the army of similarly motivated and equally sweaty competitors, another set of stairs are the last thing you need. Adding insult to injury, these stairs are only big enough for one full grown man to use at a time. How To Fix It: Not everyone can have escalators like the Chicago Auto Show and the New York Auto Show, but walk-in press rooms Paris, you heard it here first.
What's Wrong: For a two-story, instant-style container building, the upper floor is loaded with big-ass columns that take up valuable floor space, make foot traffic congested, and just generally get in the way. Interestingly, not a single one of those columns has a power outlet on it. All failures of design in our opinion, aren't you folks supposed to be good at that kind of thing? How To Fix It: Perhaps a pre-fab trailer isn't the best place to put a press center at an international auto show.
What's Wrong: Fer Chrissake, you're the people who built the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, The Cathedral of Notre Dame, you know how to make things big. There's no reason for a press room as crowded as a cafe on the Avenue des Champs- Élysées and that looks like a double-wide with some folding tables tossed in for fun. How To Fix It: Think bigger folks, you have entire floors of some of the halls empty, use 'em.
What's Wrong: As we mentioned, the press room is all the way off in BFE (Butt-Frenching Egypt) on the North side of the show. On top of that it's outside (getting thousands of dollars worth of gear wet from rain is not at all fun). There are two main halls where most of the action takes place, Hall 3 and Hall 1. How To Fix It: Connecting the two major halls is the Hall 2 second floor, which acts as a bridge over traffic. Hall 2 is home of vendors and tier 3 suppliers of all varieties. Would it be impossible to drop some of those folks into the lower level of the sparsely populated Hall 2 first floor? No, and it would save a lot of travel time.
What's Wrong: Hard lines seem like an antiquated way to hook up to the internet these days, what with industrial strength 802.11n routers and all, but when the teaming horde of journalists whip out their laptops, all their electronic equipment, TV cameras, mixing boards, etc. clog the airwaves with their static. And don't even get us started on the 32-key password. How To Fix It: Nothing is more of a godsend than walking into the Detroit Auto Show and finding a good old shielded hard line. We can't tell you how many times Wi-fi is more like No-fi at an auto show. Throw us a bone here folks and drop more hard line hubs.
What's Wrong: If you have time to graze upon the offerings of the automakers, the Paris Auto Show is a magical place. Paris is known as a foodie kind of place, so to keep up appearances, everybody dishes up some of the best auto show food in the world (Honda, we're looking at you and your awesome Asian/French fusion lunch on Thursday. Not that we stopped to eat or anything Wert, we swear!). But for those on the run or stuck phoning it in to the home office, the best you can hope for in the press room is overly sweet dessert bites, juice, water and soda. How To Fix It: An army marches on its stomach and this one is no different. At least put out a plate of sandwiches once in a while. I mean, you guys invented baguettes, use them.
Let's be clear, we wouldn't trade our time at the Paris Motor Show for anything. We're just saying that when we're trying to decide which international show's tops, it's hard to argue for a show that seems unable to buy comfortable chairs. Just sayin'...