▲ Jeju Island, with its stunning natural scenery and excellent roads, is proving popular with car companies to launch or test-drive their vehicles. Photo courtesy GM Daewoo
Spring has come. April showers washed away the cold winter winds leaving Jeju to bask in the May sunlight. This is when Jeju shines. I throw on my faded black leather jacket and take to my motorcycle. It coughs to a start after a winter of disuse, but before long it’s going at full throttle answering the call of the open road. I lean into the turns; I coast past the ocean, the salt water thick in the air; I conquer Mount Halla, with roe deer in my rear view mirrors. The island shows its beauty in ways not obvious on foot. Astride a two-wheeled engine or cruising with one hand on the wheel is truly the best way to see the island and I’m not the only one who thinks so.
For years, high-end automotive corporations have utilized the island’s mystique, beauty and pristine roads to promote, unveil and test-drive their vehicles. In conjunction with Jeju’s natural amenities, the island’s tourism infrastructure creates a hotbed for press junkets and incentive tours.
“We go to Jeju Island often,” said Dho Young Chang, of the communications division of Renault Samsung Motors. Since 2002, Renault Samsung has utilized the island due to its beautiful scenery and nice weather, Dho said. “Also, Jeju has various road conditions, which are the best place for testing [vehicles].”
This is a common sentiment among automotive corporations. A publicist who has represented both Jaguar and Land Rover Korea but did not want his name used said that, “The circle road beside the seaside is a beautiful driving course, because there are not many cars, and the scenery is beautiful.” The island also has various courses, he said.
The road variations are attributed to Jeju’s unique geography. The relatively small island can be circumnavigated in little more than an hour, allowing plenty of time within a single day to traverse the tallest mountain in South Korea, via the winding 5.16 road, as well as travel through Jeju’s ubiquitous tangerine orchards.
“It is a kind of fan trip,” said the publicist. “Korean photographers love to go to Jeju Island. It is a destination they want to go to because the weather is beautiful.
“When we organize a fan trip,” he continued, “there is a program that explains our cars. Then there is a test-drive session and golf and fishing sessions.”
The test-drive events, vehicle unveiling and press junkets can be classified as incentive tours thrown by the auto-motive corporations for journalists, auto bloggers and VIP’s. Accommodation, transportation and entertainment are often provided by the host companies, creating what is tantamount to a working holiday for the invited parties.
The accommodations provided, like the vehicles being displayed, are top of the line. These automotive companies spare no expense and splurge on five-star hotels to ensure their guests enjoy themselves.
During the Oct. 2008 Lacetti Premiere Launch show, hosted by GM Daewoo at Phoenix Island, the hotel earned 70 mil-lion won for the week-long event. Kim Jin A, a public relations representative for Phoenix Island, said that 150 journalists and VIPs attended the event and that it was a good source of advertising for their hotel.
Kim said Phoenix Island was chosen as the venue due to the fact that “our hotel is a one-stop multi-service, which provides test-drive, parties, briefing facilities, accommodation and shooting,” among other things.
Shine Ville Luxury Resort was home to the Lexus 2006 and the Jaguar 2008 incentive tours, Park Geun Woo, chief communication officer, said approximately 100 VIPs attended each event. “It is a good source of advertising for the automobile company,” Park said. He said the hotel had a corporate “friendship” with both Lexus and Jaguar.
▲ Photo courtesy GM Daewoo
This is quite common on the island with many luxury hotels having agreements and alliances with specific auto-motive companies. Probably the most intimate relationship is that of the six-star Haevichi Hotel and Resort and Hyundai Motors.
Rather than hosting specific events and galas, the agreement between the two companies has Haevichi continually host the i30 campaign, which is “a kind of package driving tour,” said Hyun Joon Ho, chief communication officer for Haevichi. “This event was supported by Hyundai Motor when the Genesis luxury sedan was launched to the public. Customers who bought a Gene-sis got a 10 percent discount on some packages, a golf discount and so on. The customers got opportunities to test-drive certain cars during the day.”
One of the advantages of unveiling and advertising vehicles on Jeju is that the product becomes instantly synonymous with all that is associated with the island. By simply showcasing the car against the ethereal background of Jeju, the automobile is coupled with the notions of grace, exoticism and luxury.
When Lexus came to the island to promote its ES350 in 2006, it was trying to capitalize on Jeju’s image of being a family destination. “The concept of this Lexus event,” said Ches Chung of the public relations agency for Toyota Motor Korea, was to communicate the “essence of the luxury sedan. Toyota decided on Jeju as a suitable destination to communicate ES350’s concept because it was the perfect place for a family trip in Korea.”
The difficulty of transportation to the island is, in many ways, part of what makes the island so appealing for incentive tours. The island is a getaway for those who are there to test-drive the vehicles, while the product becomes synonymous with the perception of relaxation and the perfect drive.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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