The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

JAN 04, 2016 | TOM STEWART |B00296257 | CRITICAL EVENT STUDIES |TOUR11005         The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique will leave from Paisley Abbey on 27 Jan 2016 for the third time. This is an annual event ran by the Caledonian Classic and Historic Motorsport Club and hosted by Renfrewshire Council. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how a Staged Experience as described by Pine and Gilmore (2011) serves to act as a catalyst for regeneration in that the event will result in enhanced national and international positive multi media coverage and at the same time underpin community pride and well-being as a result of the memetic experience providing a source of escape and entertainment.

Finally, the post will investigate how the event should be managed to prevent and avoid commoditization, the feeling of been there, done that ! Cohen (1988) describes commoditization as ‘a process by which things (and activities) come to be evaluated primarily in terms of their exchange value, in a context of trade, thereby becoming goods (and services)‘ which would result in this case in a possible loss of intrinsic meaning and value and less significance and enthusiasm by the target audience for the event and therefore undermining the benefits of having a busier town with a significantly higher perception.

Monte-Carlo-Rally-Paisley ph and LPRally legend Paddy Hopkirk  and Paisley Provost Ann Hall wave Historic Rally cars off the start line in Paisley. The Hillman Imp was manufactured in Linwood 3 miles away and was a successful rally car in its day.

The event target audience is made up from the media, members of the community and the car owners and drivers. The media and members of the community access the event for free. The cars and drivers pay a small entry fee along with their own expenses and take part as a result of their enthusiasm for the sport. The event is designed to Put the Town on the map, to bring positive perception to observers and to reposition the Towns media output in a positive way. As Pine and Gilmour describe (2011) ‘consumers unquestionably desire experiences’ and this also refers to staging experiences to enhance products and services to encourage the audience to visit or ‘buy’, in this case Paisley and its businesses. Again, Pine and Gilmour (2011) confirm that ‘an experience is not an amorphous construct, it is as real an offering as any service, goods or commodity’. The wrapping of products and services in a staged experience to enhance the ability to sell is now  established in the economy and this is demonstrated when visitors are engaged in a personal and memorable way with a heightened ambience or sense of theatre.

Authenticity is key when constructing a staged event. This is not a ‘real’ car rally but a historic event celebrating the original Monte Carlo rally of 1926, one of the most famous in the world. The cars are a mixture of non-rally prepared but nevertheless original vintage cars alongside real vintage rally cars all manufactured between 1940 and 1981.

abbey monte crowds

The event is hosted within the grounds of the 12c Paisley Abbey arranged around a ‘paddock’ area restricted to the fans although they are close to the cars. The start which is the only UK venue, mimics an actual rally with a raised floodlight platform and well known rally celebrities waving the cars off on their journey to Monaco. The noise, smell of oil and petrol leave you in no doubt that you are experiencing a ‘real’ and authentic car rally start within a magnificent setting. This process is in effect broadcasting to the world that Paisley is important, has magnificent architecture, can host world class events and is ready to host visitors.

Essentially, this event has been delivered without saying we are authentic ! This is very important in hosting events that need to be seen as real. The use of the Monte Carlo logo/badge/car number is recognised world wide. The organisation by  the motorsport club of the rally car entrants in the paddock and when leaving is professional and as real as you would witness at any actual competitive car rally.

monte tweet

Tweet underlining international interest and authenticity of event

The organisation of the audience surrounding the event is  carried out in a professional manner with marked and badged stewards and security staff and security barriers between crowds and the cars. The difference between the event and a real competitive motor rally start is almost impossible to determine. In addition there is further wrapping of the car event with street food and entertainment and a fireworks show all to heighten the experience, excitement and entertainment for all.

Understanding the Experience Realms as described by Pine and Gilmore (1998) for this event gives an insight into the effective delivery and success attained. They say ‘we find that the richest experiences-such as going to Disney World or gambling in a Las Vegas casino-encompass aspects of all four realms, forming a ”sweet spot” around the area where the spectra meet.

experience realms

Whether you were a car enthusiast or had just been dragged along to the event you would certainly have enjoyed some if not all of the spectra but many would have encountered all and therefore had a truly engaged experience. You were able to see, hear, smell and in some cases touch all aspects of rally cars. Whether you are a car fan or not this event and its setting and surrounding attractions had something for everyone.

To Conclude, this event has been successful in the outcomes required at inception 3 years ago. With approximately 10,000 attending the event annually, therefore also potential additional consumers to town centre businesses, it is serving its initial purpose. In addition, the media coverage of the event is widespread and positive for the town with many news reports referencing the areas motor car heritage and also the famous Paisley Pattern and history and heritage of the Town. As the event matures however the organisers should take note that the biggest danger is that the event becomes commoditized through being repeated in a similar manner and is therefore rendered inauthentic and suffers dropping attendance and increasing costs as a result.

Consideration should be given to charge entry for certain parts of the event such as the paddock  and start ramp areas where you are up close to the cars and drivers. Consumption of events and the experience economy can result in the event attracting the support required to charge an entry fee reaching beyond the original aims to ensure the event is not viewed as having stagnated and in fact becoming more interesting, engaging and exclusive. If this entry fee was combined with appropriate merchandising in the form of  a ‘goodie bag’ more could be made of selling Paisley to the audience. Creative staged experiences will become an essential tool not just for products and services but for our Towns and Cities to survive. We must however become progressive and clever with the management and staging of these events to benefit both the targeted audience and the organisations within our centres to benefit.


web :

Cohen, E. (1988), ‘Authenticity and Commoditization in Tourism’, Pergamon Press plc

Pine, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H.(August, 1998), ‘Welcome to the Experience Economy‘ in Harvard Business Review.

web :

Quinn, B. (2009), ‘Festivals Events and Tourism’, in The Sage Handbook of Tourism Studies, London.

Pine, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H., (2011), ‘The Experience Economy’, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston. pp34-89.


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