SEMA SHOW Investment
››› When the 2023 SEMA Show opens Tuesday morning, October 31 in Las Vegas, you'll want to hit the show floor with a game plan. Here's an attendee guide to leveraging key Show features to your best advantage.
LEVERAGING THE SEMA SHOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
THERE ARE LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF REASONS TO ATTEND THE 2023 TRADE EVENT IN LAS VEGAS
››› By Mike Imlay
Momentum is rapidly building for the 2023 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, October 31–November 3. As of press time, the Show was on track for more than 2,000 exhibitors from the United States and international markets, all eager to share their latest products, services and innovations with thousands of buyers, media representatives and other trade attendees. As one of the most-attended U.S. trade shows in 2022, the SEMA Show remains the premier global automotive trade gathering—a can't-miss event for growing a business.
"The Show is a great opportunity for all types of industry businesses," confirms SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso. "Attendees can connect with thousands of manufacturers who are showcasing their latest innovations and best-selling products. The Show is also a unique venue for meeting with senior management of the brands that you work with, gaining an understanding of where they're going, and discussing any issues you're having as a customer. This sort of face-to-face interaction just doesn't happen anywhere else."
According to Gattuso, the SEMA Show's size and scope also makes it an ideal environment for exchanging ideas and professional development. "The Show attracts businesspeople from all over the world. We have more than 100 countries and regions represented, and 20% of our audience is from outside the United States. This offers a global perspective on markets and ideas from Western Europe to Asia. It's always enlightening to meet with people from differing markets who are exploring similar opportunities and solving similar challenges."
Admittedly, attending a trade event as large as this can be a little daunting, especially for newcomers. But with the right advance planning, every attendee can navigate and leverage the Show like a true expert. Fortunately, SEMA Show planners have developed a number of tools to do just that.
››› The New Products Showcase is an essential element in any attendee game plan. Scanning items with the SEMA Show app connects you directly to their exhibitors on the Show floor.
Covering the Basics
Obviously, the first steps include registering for the Show, reserving accommodations and arranging transportation. Registering before September 29 will save you money and allow your Show badge to be mailed to you, which means you'll avoid registration lines at the Show. (International attendees registered by September 16 will receive mailed badges.)
"You also want to make sure to book your hotel through www.SEMAshow.com and our partners at onPeak," SEMA Trade Show Director Andy Tompkins points out. "We have a block of nearly 50 hotels with the guaranteed lowest rates, all conveniently located near the Las Vegas Convention Center [LVCC]. While you're at the Show website, you can also ensure your travel and transportation opportunities are in place and tap into a variety of discounts that we've negotiated with major airlines."
It's important to note that there's virtually no parking at the LVCC, so public transit and ridesharing remain the best options once you're in the city. The Las Vegas monorail runs between the LVCC and many of the hotels in the SEMA Show block. Some hotels are even within walking distance. Of course, there are also Uber, Lyft and taxi services, along with shuttle buses from key hotels. Again, all these options are outlined on www.SEMAshow.com.
Know Who's Exhibiting
With hotels and transportation covered, the next step is to create a list of exhibitors you're interested in. "We have several pre-Show tools to help familiarize attendees with who's exhibiting at the Show," said Tompkins. "If you're already doing business with them, you can even reach out and set an appointment. And if you're not, that's an opportunity for you to develop relationships."
The first—and possibly most important—pre-planning tool is the Show's free mobile app, downloadable from your native app store. "We like to say it puts the SEMA Show in your pocket," Tompkins explains. "It has exhibitor lists, turn-by-turn directions around the LVCC, and comprehensive listings of new products from our New Products Showcase, feature vehicles, Show event and education schedules, and a host of other features."
The second tool, called My Show Planner, is available at the SEMA Show website. After providing it with some basic profile information, the planner allows attendees to customize their Show experience according to their interests. They can select the different exhibitors they wish to visit, as well as education programs and other Show features and events they want to attend.
"My Show Planner really gets you thinking about what each of your days at the SEMA Show might look like," says Tompkins. "And it syncs to the mobile app and to many calendar apps."
Best of all, both the Show app and the website allow attendees to examine the Show's exhibitor listings and overall floorplan well ahead of time.
"With more than 2,000 exhibitors across five halls, the SEMA Show is one of the world's largest trade events. Its advantage is that there are literally shows within the Show," adds Gattuso. "You can find your own community, from Racing and Performance to Mobile Electronics and everything in between. The ultimate goal is to plan your approach—which halls you want to hit on which days, and think through what you want your time at the Show to look like—before you get to Las Vegas."
Key Show Features
Arriving at the Show with a preliminary plan frees up time for some key SEMA Show features designed to connect you with new trends, products and exhibitors. Among the most valuable is the New Products Showcase, which contains hundreds of new and featured products from every Show category. "The Showcase is the number-one destination for buyers, and we recommend it as a first stop before you hit the actual Show floor," says Tompkins.
This year, the Showcase moves to the LVCC North Hall, making it more convenient than ever to tour. Each Showcase product carries a QR code that's scannable through the SEMA Show app. This allows attendees to capture vital information about an item and its maker, as well as directions to its exhibitor's booth. App users can even "favorite" products to add to their Show itinerary.
In addition to the New Products Showcase, feature vehicles are displayed prominently throughout the LVCC campus. Highly popular with attendees, these vehicle builds are more than eye candy—they're a means of connecting with exhibitors. "Every feature vehicle has a QR code that can be scanned with the app," explains Tompkins. "This allows you to capture information like the vehicle make and model, its builder, and noteworthy products used in the build with links to their exhibitors. Again, you can map your route to the exhibitors through the app. We're all in this business because we love cars and trucks, so this is a cool way to take in these builds while exploring the businesses behind them."
››› The Show's massive array of feature vehicles also lead attendees to the key products used in the vehicle builds—many being introduced for the very first time.
››› Outdoor activation areas are more than entertainment—they allow attendees to see and evaluate trends and products in action.
Along with incredible feature vehicles, there's always a lot of vehicular action going on outside the Show halls. But like all other Show attractions, there's more to these "activation areas" than simply
"It's always interesting to see what's happening in the Show's Overlanding Experience, which is moving to just outside the West Hall this year. And the Optima Village is also a favorite Show attraction, along with drifting exhibitions, ride and drives, and even the SEMA Cruise Presented by CTEK that closes the Show on Friday. The SEMA Show is constantly in motion, and these and other outdoor activations represent great educational experiences where you can see trends and products in action," observes Gattuso.
››› Led by leading industry subject-matter experts, the Show's education tracks cover a wide range of trends, ideas and business topics designed to advance personal and professional development.
Speaking of education, the 2023 SEMA Show will roll out a newly expanded learning program, with 99 sessions, all presented by leading subject-matter experts. You can register in advance for seminars through the Show website and sync them with the Show app.
"The programs are organized across tracks in a very logical fashion," observes Tompkins. "For instance, there are vehicle electrification, shop and marketing programs, along with other disciplines for any given business."
There are also a variety of partner education tracks, presented by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision (I-CAR), the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and Dale Carnegie.
Additionally, Show planners have lined up impressive keynote speakers, including Tim Tebow, who will headline the Mainstage Experience on Thursday, November 2, in the stage's new West Hall location.
"We're really excited about Tim Tebow," says Gattuso. "He's an entrepreneur, automotive enthusiast, businessperson and athlete, and will have a very positive message about integrating opportunities in the automotive lifestyle. In all, the Show's education covers topics, ideas and best practices for personal and professional development for attendees and their employees. There's literally something for everybody."
Networking and Awards Events
Building relationships is an important element of any trade event, so the SEMA Show provides numerous networking opportunities, many of which highlight industry innovation and excellence. "One of the goals of the SEMA Show is to celebrate the automotive community and honor up-and-coming leaders and visionaries, so the awards we present are designed to spotlight different trends within the marketplace," explains Gattuso.
The Kickoff Breakfast on Tuesday morning features the Show's New Products Awards, making it a prime event for trendspotting. Tompkins also recommends attending Thursday evening's Industry Banquet at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. "The Fifth Third Bank-sponsored reception before the dinner is a great networking opportunity, and the banquet awards help identify industry leaders and creativity."
Throughout the week there are also numerous other networking receptions and events, many sponsored by SEMA councils that serve different industry segments. All of them can be found in the Show schedule.
Gaining Consumer Insight
Although the SEMA Show is a B2B event, it's always good to gain insight into how the Show's products and trends resonate with industry consumers. Astute buyers can do so by closely observing the Show crowd on Friday. That's the day when a limited number of qualified enthusiast-consumers and content creators are admitted to the Show.
"Typically about 10,000 will attend, and it's another great opportunity to see which booths they're checking out, what products they like, what they seem to be talking about, and what they're sharing in their social media feeds," Tompkins explains.
To sum up, the annual SEMA Show offers buyers, media and other trade attendees an incredible return on investment at a critical juncture for the industry. But you get out of it what you put into it. Planning ahead and leveraging the above-mentioned features will go a long way toward ensuring success at a Show you don't want to miss.
After all, Tompkins underscores, "We all understand as industry professionals that missing the SEMA Show means missing where the industry is headed in a changing economy where we can all use a competitive edge. Trends move quickly in this marketplace, and skipping even a single year can set you back."
››› The ability to meet exhibitors one-on-one and see product explained or demonstrated live brings exclusive advantages that buyers won't find anywhere else.
Exhibitors Want to See You!
If you haven't yet registered as a Show "Friday Experience," attendee, don't miss out on the exhibitors eager to meet with you. Registration now through September 29, 2023, is just $60 and allows you to get your badge in the mail, saving time when you arrive at the Show. (Starting September 30, registration increases to $120.) For more information and registration, go to www.SEMAshow.com/attendee.
SEMA Fest: Sharing the Automotive Lifestyle
Apart from the SEMA Show, attendees who want to further rub elbows with consumer-enthusiasts can check out SEMA Fest, which launches this year. A brand-new, separate celebration of car culture and lifestyle, SEMA Fest is slated for the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, November 3–4. Requiring a separate ticket, SEMA Fest will include a car show, musical entertainment, drifting, freestyle motorcycling and other crowd-pleasing activities for the general public.
"While totally different events, the SEMA Show and SEMA Fest are symbiotic," explains Gattuso. "The SEMA Show focuses on the industry's businesses, professionals and products on a B2B level. SEMA Fest is designed to gather enthusiasts and people who love and use cars and trucks at the consumer level. Think of it as an event for our industry's customers."
To register for SEMA Fest or for more information, visit www.SEMAFest.com.