By Mike Imlay
SEMA Show Tips for Buyers
Get the Most From Your 2014 Experience
|With more than 2,300 exhibitors and thousands of products on display, the 2014 SEMA Show will be a flurry of activity for buyers. Staying focused on several fronts will help you not only navigate but also profit from all the hustle and bustle.
Larger than ever for 2014, this year’s SEMA Show promises to connect buyers with more than 2,300 exhibitors while offering an exciting look at more than a million square feet of industry innovation both inside and outside the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). With thousands of products, display vehicles, booths and business-enhancing activities to choose from, how do buyers begin to navigate this massive world of opportunity? The key, said SEMA Show Director Tom Gattuso, is to strategize beforehand and hit the ground running.
“Buyers who plan ahead are invariably more successful,” advised Gattuso. “Their first stop should be http://www.semashow.com/, which is the primary source for everything related to the Show and will have the most up-to-date and accurate information. I also tell people to start paying attention to Show-related e-mails and the SEMA eNews electronic newsletter right up to and through the Show. We use those tools to get out the word on what’s important and where to find information on http://www.semashow.com/. Also, the website features the full SEMA Show floorplan, which is divided into 12 sections, helping you target the industry categories and companies most related to your business. For instance, you can go to the floorplan and click on particular products, such as batteries, and find the companies that sell them. You also have the ability to search the full list of exhibitors by product category, company name or booth number, making it easy to plan booth visits.”
In addition to the above resources, Gattuso emphasized that buyers will want to especially focus on the following touchpoints when putting together their SEMA Show itineraries.
Stay Mobile Throughout the Show
Veterans of the event know that the annual SEMA Show is ever-evolving, so staying on top of an itinerary and getting from place to place isn’t always easy. In addition to the above-mentioned online floorplan, Show organizers are debuting a new mobile app this year that provides users with handheld directions from one point to another. Even better, the app boasts a roster of all the products in the New Product Showcase (see below), listings and descriptions of all exhibiting companies and product categories, and a scheduling feature that will help you connect with the businesses you want to see.
The new app is the perfect tool for researching first-time exhibitors and mapping your route around the Show. It is now available for download from a landing page on the SEMA Show website at www.SEMAshow.com/app. You can also search for SEMA 2014 in your smartphone app store. Once it’s downloaded, you’ll find that the app is a handy reference tool before, during and after the Show, with vital year-round information and updates delivered on an ongoing basis.
Start With New and Featured Products
According to SEMA Show surveys, 89% of buyers make finding new products their top priority. If you’re among this number, plan ahead to make the New Products Showcase your number-one destination. Residing in the east end of the upper level of the LVCC South Hall and boasting more than 2,000 new or popular products representing every industry segment, the Showcase is a practical, well-organized “Show Within the Show.” Free electronic scanners available on-site allow you to scan items that interest you, and there’s no limit to the number of products you can scan. Plus, all the product information is digitally stored for you to either print instantly or retrieve later. With exhibitor and product information in hand, you can move on to the main Show floor to do business with your new leads and existing partners.
SEMA surveys reveal that 89% of buyers make finding new products their top Show priority. There’s no better place to start your exploration than the New Products Showcase, located in the east end of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall upper level.
The SEMA Cruise at the close of the Show on Friday has become a popular annual event. It culminates this year in SEMA Ignited, a new public event at The LINQ near the Quad at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Both events give buyers opportunities to see the vehicles and products currently exciting consumers.
In addition, products displayed in the Showcase are entered in SEMA’s annual New Product Awards competition, which recognizes outstanding product development introduced at the SEMA Show. Products are judged in 16 categories, with each having a winner and two runners-up. The winners are then recognized at the annual awards breakfast, which will be held Tuesday, November 4, 7:30 a.m.–8:45 a.m., in Ballrooms A–G of the Westgate Las Vegas Casino & Hotel (formerly the LVH) and is another great way to tap into the trends currently shaping the automotive specialty-equipment market. (For ticket information, visit http://www.semashow.com/ and navigate to Special Events under the Events tab.)
Discover Easy Transportation and More
The 2014 SEMA Show features two new transportation hubs to help you arrive and depart easily each day. They’re positioned at the Gold Pavilion (located just across Paradise Road from the North Hall) and at Silver 4 (located in the parking lot to the east of the Renaissance Hotel parking structure near South Hall). You’ll find that all shuttle buses and taxis now pick up and drop off at these sites, making traffic flow much more quick and efficient.
As in past years, free shuttle-bus service is provided on Show days between the LVCC and most hotels offered through the official SEMA Show housing provider. In addition, the Gold Pavilion also becomes the Show’s newest exhibitor location, filled with booths and special features to greet buyers practically the moment they arrive. For details about transportation, preferred hotels and Gold Pavilion exhibitors, visit http://www.semashow.com/.
Stay on Top of Show Updates
The SEMA Show is always a dynamic trade event, with new developments emerging by the moment. Thankfully, Show organizers deliver frequent updates through a variety of means to help you stay on top of all the activity. First, there’s the SEMA Show Daily, the Show’s only authorized print publication, which is distributed at key locations throughout the LVCC. Pick up a copy each morning for the latest schedule and highlights of the day ahead as well as full coverage of exhibitor, product and related news from every corner of the Show floor.
In addition, be sure that you’re a subscriber to SEMA eNews, the association’s official weekly electronic newsletter. For 2014, it will also be published in a special daily format Tuesday through Thursday of the Show. (To subscribe, go to www.SEMA.org/sema-enews-subscribe.html) Of course, in conjunction with these two publications, the SEMA 2014 mobile app mentioned above remains a great handheld resource for breaking Show information and updates.
Expand Your Knowledge
The 2014 SEMA Show offers more than 50 free and several “pay-to-attend” educational events from Monday through Thursday, November 3–6. Held in the meeting rooms of the LVCC’s North Hall, these seminars cover a wide range of topics and industry trends, many of which will be of special interest to buyers. The courses are presented by leading industry experts and emphasize practical concepts and tools for your professional and business growth. They are open only to registered 2014 SEMA Show attendees, and you’ll find the complete curricula listing at www.SEMAShow.com/education.
Get Hyped on Cars & Coffee
Back by popular demand, Cars & Coffee—SEMA Edition allows buyers to start each Show day mingling with colleagues and other attendees over hot java and a display of cool vehicles. Now in its second year, the popular morning pick-me-up takes place Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m. at the outdoor patio of the Westgate Las Vegas Casino & Hotel opposite the Convention Center.
Extending the action into the space between the LVCC’s North Hall and the Westgate Hotel, the Optima Street Car Alley will additionally feature more than 70 of Optima Batteries’ Ultimate Street Car Invitational competitors. Spectator tickets to the Ultimate Street Car Invitational will also be available at the display, and the event’s entrants will kick off the SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited events as the Show draws to a close on Friday afternoon (see below).
Get in on Member Buyers Rewards
SEMA membership brims with privileges. Created specifically for SEMA-member buyers attending the Show, the Member Buyer Rewards (MBR) program offers numerous perks you’ll want to take advantage of. Member buyers receive their MBR cards in mid-October in advance of the Show, or they can also pick them up in the Members Lounge, located in the LVCC North Hall, Room N251, during Show hours.
The card entitles you to Member Lounge access Tuesday through Friday during Show hours to rest your feet and enjoy complimentary coffee, Internet and business services as well as device charging stations. You’ll also enjoy the greater ease of dedicated MBR Taxi Lines in the Gold Lot and Silver 4 Lot from 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, and 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. on Friday. Plus you’re entitled to preferred seating at Tuesday morning’s New Products Awards Breakfast featuring the SEMA award press conference and Wednesday’s popular NHRA Breakfast. (Tickets are required and space is limited, so plan to arrive early.)
Finally, when the Show ends, you’re entitled to pick up a free drink ticket at the Information Center of this year’s inaugural SEMA Ignited event, which will be held Friday evening, 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. If you or your company are not yet a SEMA member, you can join the association by contacting the SEMA customer service team at 909-610-2030. Or, even better, you can make a personal visit to SEMA Central while you’re at the Show (see below).
Stop by SEMA Central
SEMA offers members numerous high-level programs and perks, not only at the Show, but all year round. Discover the latest at SEMA Central in the LVCC Grand Lobby (between the North and Central Halls), which will feature special indepth displays dedicated to the new SEMA Garage, Vehicle Technology programs and services and the ever-expanding SEMA Data Co-op.
The new SEMA Show mobile app provides users with handheld directions from one point to another. The app boasts a roster of all the products in the New Product Showcase, listings and descriptions of all exhibiting companies and product categories, and a scheduling feature that will help you connect with the businesses you want to see.
In addition to these major resources, SEMA also offers members an array of business solutions encompassing everything from insurance to ongoing educational opportunities, shipping and logistics plans, a merchant credit card program, a discount financing program for consumers and much more. Just a few minutes at SEMA Central can make a huge, positive impact on your business and Show experiences.
Of course, if you’re not already a SEMA member, SEMA Central staff also stands ready to answer any questions you may have and welcome you into the trade association.
Step Outside for Performance Action
If you enjoy watching products and vehicle innovations put through their paces, you won’t want to miss several SEMA Show attractions outside the LVCC walls. First, the Silver 3 Lot fronting the LVCC will be transformed into the ultimate off-road and desert-racing exhibit, thanks to the SCORE Baja 1000 Experience. The exhibition will encompass numerous activities, culminating in a live qualifying event for the 2014 SCORE International Baja 1000 on a specially constructed dirt loop. The area will also feature a live stage, a video wall and displays of Trophy Trucks, Class 1 vehicles and other performance off-road rigs.
Meanwhile, Ford Out Front returns to the SEMA Show, this year in conjunction the automaker’s celebration of the iconic and all-new Mustang and the F-150. The outside track will feature exhibitions by professional drivers such as Ken Block, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Jack Roush Jr. and Justin Pawlak, and SEMA attendees can ride in ’15 Mustangs, Ford Raptors and Superformance Cobras piloted by Ford Racing High Performance Driving School instructors and other notable professionals. You’ll find the action taking place in the Silver Lot fronting the LVCC Central Hall.
Also back for 2014 is the ever-popular GM Proving Ground, where Show attendees can ride along with precision drivers doing hot laps. Located in the Orange Lot between the South and Central Halls, the Proving Ground is a pure adrenalin rush designed to showcase the best of GM vehicles in a performance and entertainment setting. You’ll find the lot conveniently adjacent to the Toyo Tires Treadpass, which also features an array of display vehicles, charging stations and a seating area where you can relax.
Revel in the SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited
Although the exhibitors pack up their products and displays Friday afternoon, you won’t want to leave town just yet. This year, two close-of-Show events combine to deliver buyers unprecedented insights into the specialty-equipment trends that are exciting consumers. The first is the SEMA Cruise, which has become an annual tradition in which the local public flocks to see and cheer all the Show vehicles departing the LVCC as the exhibitor booths are dismantled. The parade begins at the Convention Center’s Silver Lot at 4:00 p.m., Friday, November 7, with the festivities including awards, giveaways, entertainment and seating for the throng.
For 2014, however, the SEMA Cruise will then wind its way to a whole new gala—SEMA Ignited—at The LINQ near the Quad at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. There, the industry’s most celebrated customized vehicles will gather to remain accessible to the public from 4:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m., yielding consumers a rare chance to view, capture and share images of all the latest “rolling art” from the 2014 SEMA Show.
The Friday-night extravaganza will also serve as the backdrop for nationwide media coverage encompassing on-site taping for a nationally televised broadcast special, best-of-show awards, food trucks, music, entertainment, automotive celebrities, builders and more. As a buyer, you’ll find the SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited to be perfect enthusiast-oriented cap-offs to the industry’s premiere trade event.