SEMA Show: A Boost Into 2017

SEMA News—January 2017

Chris Kersting

SEMA Show: A Boost Into 2017

Chris KerstingThe 50th anniversary SEMA Show brought resounding confirmation that the original idea was good back then and perhaps even better today. For many of us, this year’s Show was a mix of past and present, of new beginnings and a moment to pause and consider memories from years past—all within the greater understanding that the our industry trade week in Las Vegas is about important business in the years ahead.

Early analysis of SEMA Show metrics and participant feedback indicate that this year’s Show was a winner for the industry. Attendance was strong among both buyers and sellers. Total attendance was estimated at just under 158,000, with nearly 70,000 of that number coming as buyers. Hotel nights were up 8%, suggesting that buyers spent more days at the Show than in past years—time they needed to cover more than 1.1 million net square feet of exhibits. With exhibit space in short supply, we were able to accommodate hundreds of first-time exhibitors by expanding the Performance Pavilion, which enjoyed steady traffic from buyers intent on discovering the newest ideas and innovations from many companies exhibiting for the first time.

The introduction of new products—a key driver of the value proposition for buyers attending the Show—continued at a high level. Activity in the New Products Showcase was strong. More than 44,000 product scans were recorded, generating new leads and pointing buyers to booths where they could talk business. Buyers reviewing the nearly 3,100 new products entered were able to use provided scanners, while many others used smartphone apps to scan bar codes. Exhibitor feedback indicates that we’ve also made the new products check-in and check-out process easier for exhibitors, which will give us something to build on for future Shows.

We can’t talk about this year’s Show without mentioning the phenomenon of growing media participation. Coverage of the Show’s exciting products, vehicles and lifestyles trendsetters has been a strategic focus for the association for the past several years. Those efforts have been paying off.

Attending the Show this year were more than 3,000 credentialed media representatives, covering a range of media types from all over the world. Activity included numerous live broadcasts, on-site coverage from a range of well-known organizations, including the Discovery Channel and USA Today, but also wide coverage from Autoblog and MSN.com.

Increasingly, the exhibitors and attendees themselves are becoming media factors as they post videos and tweets to share the amazing products and vehicles that make the SEMA Show an event of global significance in the automotive world. Online coverage of the Show has everyone looking at a new world that helps create broader awareness of our industry, its remarkable products and the enjoyment of automotive lifestyles in general.

Another high-water mark at the 2016 Show was set on the education front. This year, more than 40,000 attendees took advantage of 26 diverse educational tracks. That was up by 40% over 2015, and average attendance per session increased by 14%. As a trade association working to help our industry succeed and prosper, we consider professional advancement for our members a strategic priority. Rest assured that we will keep working to make the seminar program a significant value proposition at each year’s SEMA Show.

Looking forward, we see a favorable opportunity for our industry to build on this year’s momentum, with good consumer confidence, low energy costs, and new-car and new-truck sales steady at a high level. In the coming months, we’ll be analyzing new Show data as it becomes available, looking for areas to improve. That work will yield insights and opportunities that will help us achieve our new goal: make the 51st SEMA Show even better.

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