We take you behind the scenes of the national media launch of the 2024 Chevrolet Trax
Our bread-and-butter business is event management. The events are for media and are always car related. Planning an event is difficult enough, but when it changes locations several times, well, that’s a lot of moving pieces.
Cars, people, luggage, food – all must move according to a well-planned schedule, in a choreographed dance of logistics, a (hopefully) well-oiled machine.
Things will go awry. Wrenches will get thrown at the machine with relentless regularity, from all directions.
A good plan should accommodate the wrenches.
We had been working on the plan for the media launch of the 2024 Chevrolet Trax off and on for about six months. We knew it was solid, detailed, yet flexible. We were ready for the wrenches.
Three groups of media over two weeks would each drive 500 kilometres in the new Trax, experiencing urban driving, highway cruising and back roads trekking.
The Trax would be revealed to media at Hotel PUR in Quebec City.
The route went from downtown Quebec to an overnight destination, Repère Boréal, just outside of Les Éboulements, in the rugged mountains of Quebec’s fabled Charlevoix region.
The route would go through Baie-Saint-Paul, a charming artsy town in the heart of Charlevoix.
Wrench #1: Floods
Just days before the launch and before we even hit the ground, parts of the town of Baie-Saint-Paul were devastated by flooding. Our route went right through the centre of town, but our first thoughts were for the victims of the flood.
We couldn’t possibly think about our event. We knew we would adapt and make changes to our program if required.
Meal Planning 101
We meticulously plan the meals for media and executives attending the program. Dietary restrictions are considered everywhere food is offered. Meals at Repère Boréal, the overnight venue, were beautifully catered for the media by Le Sainti, a local must-stop restaurant in Saint-Irénée.
Meals for our event staff? Wrench #2
Despite the attention to detail we follow for planning the meals for our guests, our staff is a different story. We follow the motto: Eat what, where and when you can. Eating on the fly is the norm for us.
Day 1 dawns beautifully sunny for our first group of media. Everyone is on the ground, no flight delays, no traffic snarls. All going according to plan.
My lunch on the fly is a delicious Thai-style seafood dish, eaten in style in the back seat of our support vehicle while moving to Repère Boréal in advance of the media’s arrival.
Five hours later, with everyone safely checked in to their cute, micro-chalets scattered throughout the forest, the seafood dish decided it wasn’t going to stay in my stomach. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper event without a good bout of food poisoning.
Fever, nausea and dizziness put an end to any thoughts of helping our team with fueling, cleaning and staging the vehicles for the next day.
The show must go on, though. Kudos to a plan that can afford to lose a major player to food poisoning.
The next day, we continued with a drive that had media on a ferry and a drive along the south shore of the majestic Saint Lawrence River.
I was a non-communicative lump in the passenger seat, coming to for the most basic duties, while our team scurried around me, keeping everything on track.
By the time the second group of media arrived, I was back to my normal self, ready for the wrenches. Cancelled flight for one of our journalists? No problem. Lost luggage? Just another day in event world. Abandoned wallet? We’ll find it and get it back to you!
Our third group of media was the ‘lifestyle’ group. Ten young women, all social media influencers with well-watched YouTube channels, descended on Quebec, ready to explore the city and Charlevoix in the nimble, fun Trax vehicles.
Media participated in activities that highlighted the best of Charlevoix
For this group, on Day 2, instead of a ferry ride and more driving, we offered activities that would highlight all that Charlevoix has to offer. Some journalists visited artisan Stéphane Bouchard at Les Ateliers Charlevoix and made delightful pottery creations.
Other journalists met with Alexandre Côté, the owner of Hydromel Charlevoix, on a hilltop farm at the beehives he manages. There, media learned how the honey extracted from the bees’ honeycombs ends up distilled and in pretty bottles as delectable wine and spirits.
The remaining media enjoyed yoga and massages.
They also took full advantage of the spa and sauna zone of Repère Boréal, the brainchild of Jonathan and Simon Galarneau, two brothers that have created a magical retreat in the woods with hand-built cabins, two goats, lots of chickens, a sleek silver cat and even a couple of peacocks!
At the final lunch of the final day of the two-week grinder, our Trax vehicles were displayed in a perfect semi-circle outside of lunch at the Hotel and Spa Le Germain Charlevoix.
Our behind-the-scenes team was feeling good, daring to feel an early sense of accomplishment that things had gone smoothly without major mistakes.
But wait. A BMW SUV pulls into the middle of our perfect display.
I storm over: “Vous ne pouvez pas stationner ici!” I say with authority.
He gently tells me he is not parking, he’s merely dropping someone off and will be gone in a few minutes.
Ha! I’ve heard it all before. They say ‘a few minutes’ but Murphy’s Law dictates that the few minutes will be exactly when the media come out of lunch. Instead of oohing and aahing about how pretty the Trax vehicles look in their lineup, they’ll see a BMW parked haphazardly in the middle. Arrgh.
I fume silently. Two women step out of the BMW, one guiding the other, who is walking with a red-tipped cane, to the door of the hotel. I’m so embarrassed I don’t know what to say. The driver of the BMW is very gracious. He moves the vehicle and accepts my apology, another nod to the genuine ‘niceness’ of the people of Quebec. (And yes, it snowed. In mid-May!)
With 20 minutes left until the group of media must depart Baie-Saint-Paul to get to the airport for their flights home, I get a message from one of the journalists: “I left my three rings in the pocket of the robe I was wearing when I went to my massage back at Repère Boréal!”
Garry headed back to Repère Boréal, hoping he could pick up the rings and make it back in time to the lunch before the media take off for the airport.
The manager, Sarah Mahu, could only find two rings.
Garry left dejectedly. He would make it back in time but he felt like he had failed in his mission. The phone rang. Sarah had found the third ring!
Garry jokingly asked her if she had prayed to Saint Antoine, the patron saint of lost things. After all, he himself had called on the saint in the past. Sarah excitedly cried: “Yes! I asked him to help me find the ring, took three steps down the gravel driveway near the spa and there it was!”
We said goodbye to the media at the airport and started bringing the Trax vehicles to the car carrier that would transport them back to Ontario.
As event planners, we know that mistakes can happen at any time and care must be taken right up to the last minute.
We had made it! We had worked as a team and put on an excellent, near-flawless event. We felt the familiar flush of Post-Event Euphoria.
My phone pinged with a photo. The car carrier half-loaded with Trax vehicles, surrounded by police cars! Now what??
Like us, the police were just doing their job, checking to make sure that the carriers’ paperwork was in order. Whew!
It’s not over until it’s over.
*Lead photo: Brody White Photography