Gary Vigil: One of the ways SEMA tries to fulfill its mission of helping its members’ businesses succeed and prosper is to produce the industry’s leading trade show. Thanks to the loyalty of SEMA-member companies and the dedication of staff, the SEMA Show has become a truly world-class event. The SEMA staff, along with the support of ConvExx Show Management, plays an important role in delivering a successful Show to exhibitors and Show attendees. The staff is aware that SEMA members have limited marketing budgets and have many options on which to spend their money. So when they put their trust in SEMA by their participation and support of the SEMA Show, the staff works to ensure that they get a great return on their investments. The staff takes pride in providing great customer service and in creating programs that address the needs of the association’s members.
SN: The 2009 SEMA Show is less than 100 days away. What can attendees expect from this year’s Show?
GV: Attendees at the 2009 SEMA Show can expect what they’re accustomed to getting at a SEMA-produced event: the industry’s leading manufacturers, a world-class New Products Showcase with cutting-edge products, an incredible display of customized vehicles, high-quality educational programs, great special events, and plenty of networking opportunities. In addition, this year’s SEMA Show will include two new Show sections: Paint, Body & Equipment and Powersports & Utility Vehicles.
SN: What are some of the challenges and opportunities related to this year’s Show?
GV: The economy has certainly created some unique challenges this year. Most companies have smaller budgets to work with and are looking for the most effective use of their limited dollars. More exhibitors have looked to us this year to find ways for them to exhibit more affordably. With the assistance of ConvExx Show Management and our partners, such as Freeman, we have been able to provide exhibitors with lower-cost options that still enable them to accomplish their objectives. I believe that we’ll see better pre-show planning by exhibitors and attendees this year, and I expect there to be very productive meetings at the Show, as both exhibitors and buyers will be looking for those business partnerships and opportunities that will help them to generate revenues.
SN: The association says that it continues to look for ways to add value to participants’ Show experiences. Can you highlight some of the programs and services that have been created to meet that goal?
GV: In the 15 years that I’ve worked at SEMA, I can’t recall a more concerted effort among the staff and the association’s partners to create value-added programs for exhibitors and attendees. In order to make it easier and more affordable for Southern California buyers to attend, SEMA has created a Buyer Bus Program, which will be transporting buyers from key Southern California cities directly to the Las Vegas Convention Center. For only $25, buses will pick up buyers Tuesday morning and return them on Wednesday evening.
Working with hotel partners, SEMA has been able to make available discounted rooms at dozens of hotels—with most rates 25% to 45% lower than last year. Turnkey discounted booth packages can save exhibitors up to 30% off booth services, and SEMA is providing an online matchmaking tool that enables exhibiting manufacturers to connect with buyers before, during and after the SEMA Show. The matchmaking program pairs exhibitors with buyers, prioritizing them by relevance based on their common product interests. As part of the matchmaking program, eligible exhibitors are guaranteed 1,000 matches or they may request to withdraw from the Show and receive their money back.
In addition, SEMA Show exhibitors will benefit by receiving a bonus seniority point this year, which will benefit them in their booth location selection in future years. Exhibitors who signed up before the space selection were given the opportunity to pay only 25% deposit if paying by credit card. Last year, a minimum 50% deposit was required. Exhibitors with at least five years’ seniority were offered a payment option that would allow them to extend their final payment to May, 2010. In previous years, all exhibitors were required to pay months before the Show opened.
SN: Is there anything else you would like to relate to the membership?
GV: SEMA remains committed to delivering value and return on investment to its members. We’re constantly trying to understand our members’ greatest challenges and needs and striving to improve the Show so that it meets or exceeds those expectations.