By Mike Imlay
SEMA Show Guide for Buyers
Top Priorities for Your Show To-Do List
With more than a million square feet of products, innovations and trends, the annual SEMA Show is a sea of activity for buyers from day one all the way through Friday. To get the most of your Show experience, start making your game plan now.
As the world’s premier automotive aftermarket trade event, the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) offers industry buyers unparalleled value and opportunity.
“This year’s SEMA Show will have the most industry support that we’ve ever had in the event’s 49-year history,” said SEMA Show Director Tom Gattuso. “What that means to buyers is more new products, more innovation and more ways for them to improve their businesses in the coming year and beyond. In fact, what you do in four days in Las Vegas really can help you chart your business course for the next four years.”
Of course, with so much to see and do in one week, buyers will want to begin planning their Show experience well before their arrival at the trade event. To help get started, Gattuso offered the following 2015 SEMA Show priorities for buyers.
Start With the New Products Showcase
The first stop on every buyer’s list should be the New Products Showcase, which continues to rank among the Show’s most popular attractions. For 2015, the Showcase has been relocated to a prominent pathway on the bridge between the Central and South Halls at the west end of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The New Products Showcase will also feature extended hours for greater accessibility before and after the Show floor opens and closes. Plus the exhibit space will boast a Featured Product section for key manufacturer offerings that are not necessarily new but are high-volume, innovative products that would be of keen interest to the industry.
“The New Products Showcase is an essential part of the SEMA Show,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of communications and events. “Thousands of buyers and media visit the Showcase to discover leading trends, and participating exhibitors rely on it as a tool to generate awareness of their products and brands. The new location will make it easier for buyers to discover new products, for media to generate coverage and for exhibitors to drive traffic to their booths.”
The New Products Showcase remains a key first stop for buyers, with free scanners available to help capture vital product data along with information about the exhibitors you’ll next want to visit in person.
To make it easy to connect with manufacturers of products from the Showcase, scanners will be readily available to buyers so they can create personalized lists of the products that interest them. Information, including company name and booth location, will be included on the lists based on what products are scanned.
Download the SEMA Show Mobile App
While buyers will certainly want to make the New Products Showcase their first Show destination, they’ll also want to make downloading the free 2015 SEMA Show app their first act of business. The app is easier to use this year and includes a virtual marketplace of all the SEMA Show’s new products, complete with images.
“The mobile app helps you plan your Show experience and navigate with ease,” said Gattuso. “Available for Apple and Android phones, the app essentially places the New Products Showcase in the palm of your hand, along with a digital map with turn-by-turn directions for getting you to any exhibitor and everywhere else you need to go.”
In addition, you’ll find a complete Show schedule, information for all the 2015 programs, and numerous other helpful features. To download the 2015 SEMA Show app, go to www.SEMAShow.com/app.
Visit the Performance Pavilion
To connect buyers with an unprecedented number of new exhibitors, the 2015 SEMA Show will include an exciting new First-Time and Featured Exhibitors expansion area, called the Performance Pavilion. Located in the outside area south of the Las Vegas Convention Center (adjacent to the Renaissance Hotel), this exhibitor space will also include a transportation hub and serve as a primary thoroughfare into the SEMA Show.
With this year’s Show projected to open with more than 2,400 exhibitors, including 500 new manufacturers, displaying thousands of products, the Performance Pavilion is actually one of four specially designed First-Time and Featured Exhibitors areas consisting primarily of newer manufacturers displaying their latest products reflecting market segments from nearby main-floor sections. The three additional expansion areas include the Upper South space, located in the upper level of South Hall, on the east side; the Grand Lobby meeting rooms, located in the LVCC meeting rooms N100–120, between North and Central Halls just east of the Grand Lobby; and the Westgate Pavilion, located in the Pavilion area of the Westgate Hotel, just north of the LVCC.
For performance-minded buyers, there is also a not-to-be-missed Racing Annex adjacent to the LVCC Central Hall, which you’ll find brimming with product and services exhibits from many of the racing and performance niche’s top companies.
Learn Something New
The SEMA Show’s extensive roster of educational opportunities includes special seminars and forums led by industry experts in everything from emerging vehicle technologies to the latest trends in collision repair.
While known worldwide as the automotive specialty-equipment industry’s number-one trade event where business gets done, the annual SEMA Show is more than an extravaganza of hot aftermarket products, customized vehicles and industry networking. It’s also a Show heavy on learning opportunities, with more than 50 free and several “pay-to-attend” educational events covering everything from online marketing to customer service, industry trends and more.
“Throughout Show week, buyers will find a huge roster of educational seminars and learning events geared toward every segment of the industry,” said Zane Clark, SEMA director of education. “Our focus in creating these presentations is to help arm industry professionals with the tools and resources to foster career advancement and business growth. We’re especially proud of the wide-ranging program we’ve put together for 2015, along with the leading experts we’ve gathered to deliver our education tracks.”
This year’s education offerings include the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit, which will focus on emerging trends in vehicle construction and technology and their impact on vehicle repair. In addition, a series of Vehicle Technology Briefing Seminars will help unravel emerging OEM technologies and government regulations immediately impacting aftermarket businesses and products. Plus you’ll find extensive tire education opportunities presented in conjunction with the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
The SEMA Show’s education sessions run Monday through Friday, November 2–6, from 9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. in the LVCC North Hall meeting rooms. Courses and education-related events are open only to registered 2015 SEMA Show attendees, exhibitors and media. For a complete list of the 2015 curricula, visit www.SEMAShow.com/education.
Tap Into the Show’s Buyer Incentives
SEMA-member companies in the buyer category—identified by their red badges—enjoy some special perks through the Show’s Member Buyer Rewards (MBR) program. If you’re an association member, you should have received your MBR card in mid-October. If not, you can pick one up during Show hours in the Members Lounge, located in North Hall, room N251.
The card gains you entry to the exclusive MBR Lounge, also open Tuesday through Friday during Show hours. You’ll find it a great place to rest your feet, grab some coffee and even get a meal, with hot lunches available for purchase from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily, or cold “Grab ‘N’ Gos” available for pick up during Show hours. The lounge also provides access to a computer with Internet service and a printer, as well as charging stations for cell phones and other wireless devices. In addition, meeting rooms are available for groups of 10 or fewer at no extra charge to member exhibitors and buyers. (According to Show rules, non-exhibiting manufacturers and members otherwise eligible to exhibit are not permitted to use the meeting rooms.)
Your MBR card also entitles you to reserved seating for the New Products Breakfast, featuring the SEMA Award press conference on Tuesday and the NHRA Breakfast on Wednesday. (Tickets are required and space is limited, so plan to attend early.) To make your daily departures from the Show easier and more convenient, you’ll also be able to access dedicated MBR taxi lines from 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, and 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. on Friday.
Explore SEMA Central
Located in the Grand Lobby between the North and Central Halls, SEMA Central includes the SEMA membership pod, where you can discover the many productivity and money-saving benefits of association membership. If you aren’t already a member, no problem. Joining at SEMA Central qualifies you for two free lunch tickets worth $16 each, two free 2016 SEMA Show registrations for your company personnel who meet Show eligibility requirements, and immediate access to the MBR lounge located in LVCC room N251. (These offers apply only to non-members attending the Show as buyers and joining SEMA during the 2015 SEMA Show.)
Within SEMA Central, you can also pick up your tickets to the Industry Awards Banquet and visit the SEMA Garage and SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) pods. Be sure to catch the SEMA Garage’s live demonstrations of its product scanning, 3D printing and Faro Arm services while you’re there, along with SDC programs promoting the new SEMA Search tool that is set to change the way the industry searches, navigates and educates itself about product data.
Stay Through Friday
After a successful debut last year, SEMA Ignited returns for 2015, complete with live taping of the climactic SEMA Battle of the Builders finals for later Discovery and Velocity network broadcasts. The industry/consumer event also includes themed vehicle displays, food and entertainment.
Although there may be a temptation to wrap up and hit the road before week’s end, smart buyers know that the SEMA Show remains busy and productive through Friday.
“We’re seeing buyers stay longer and take advantage of every opportunity to connect with exhibitors at the SEMA Show,” said MacGillivray. “These are buyers who are focused on getting the most out of the SEMA Show and, in fact, we know that buyers who are at the Show for the entire duration tend to be more successful than those who come for just one day.”
“Our exhibitors are here and ready to meet buyers. It’s not a throw-away day,” confirmed Gattuso, noting that more than half of the 60,000 buyers at last year’s SEMA Show stayed for Friday. “Not only do all exhibitors remain present and ready to do business from 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., but such features as the New Products Showcase, Ford Out Front, West Coast Customs Experience, Optima Alley and the Baja 1000 Score Exhibit continue full throttle, with many celebrity appearances, demonstrations and workshops also taking place Friday.”
In fact, the excitement continues even as the Show closes. The annual SEMA Cruise features hundreds of Show vehicles parading out of the LVCC and across the street for SEMA Ignited, the industry’s Friday-evening after party and consumer-facing event.
Introduced last year, SEMA Ignited is slated to include vehicle display “villages,” food, entertainment and the culmination of the 2015 SEMA Battle of the Builders competition, which will be taped live for later Discovery and Velocity network broadcasts. Credentialed Showgoers can attend the event at no cost. The 2015 SEMA Ignited takes place directly across from the LVCC in the Gold Lot, making it easy and convenient to walk to the event.
Get the Most From Your Show Experience
The top buyer priorities found in these pages represents a fraction of the opportunities that await you at the 2015 SEMA Show. To learn more about these and countless other Show programs and events, visit www.SEMAShow.com.