Business Tools

Tips and Highlights for Buyers at the 2012 SEMA Show

SEMA News—November 2012

By Mike Imlay

8 SEMA Show Highlights for Buyers

Insider Tips for Taking Full Advantage of the 2012 Show

  Automobile Events, Automobile Trade Show, Auto Show, Automotive Trade Show, Automotive Trade Shows

As a buyer, you realize that the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas is the world’s premier automotive aftermarket trade event—and you wouldn’t miss it for the world. Yet with so many business opportunities concentrated under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), how do you make the most of your Show experience? It’s not easy to cover more than 1 million sq. ft. of products, exhibits, display vehicles and special events in just a few, short days. With the Show rapidly approaching, now is the time to get organized and establish your game plan. Here are eight insider tips to get you started.

1. Book With Travel Planners

Don’t underestimate the value of convenient, hassle-free hotel reservations. While not walking the Show, you’ll appreciate quality lodging that keeps you well rested and refreshed for what can be a busy daily schedule. Booking your room(s) through Travel Planners (the only official SEMA Show Housing Bureau) helps guarantee the best rates possible at favored Las Vegas hotels offering quick and easy access to the Convention Center. Even better, with the exception of the MGM Grand and The Signature hotels, you’ll also avoid resort fees when securing your accommodations through Travel Planners. Moreover, the company offers online access to exclusive hotel profiles that include descriptions, amenities, photos and maps for every official hotel. You can also manage your reservations (view, change or cancel) in real time, 24/7 through the Travel Planners website. For details, go to, click on “Attendees” and scroll down to select “Travel & Lodging.”

2. Go Mobile at the Show

In past years, buyers and other SEMA Show attendees found their way to booths and exhibits through the printed SEMA Show Pocket Guide. This year, there’s also an innovative new way to navigate the floor using the free “SEMA Show 2012” mobile application for iPhones and Android smartphones. A great portable resource for locating exhibitors and education sessions, the app even allows users to search for exhibiting companies by product category and then actually communicate with them to set appointments. Because it was developed by CompuSystems, the Show’s registration company, the “SEMA Show 2012” app also includes a special feature that lets users access, track and print out such appointments through the CompuSystems registration dashboard. To download the app, visit your appropriate smartphone marketplace.

3. Experience Ideas Alive


Automobile Events, Automobile Trade Show, Auto Show, Automotive Trade Show, Automotive Trade Shows Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Products Showcase is a popular first stop for buyers seeking an up-close and personal look at the hottest new industry offerings. There is also a Featured Products section filled with favored items from manufacturers that, although not new, remain bestsellers.


Automobile Events, Automobile Trade Show, Auto Show, Automotive Trade Show, Automotive Trade Shows
Slated for Tuesday, October 30, from 7:30 a.m.–8:45 a.m. at the LVH (formerly Las Vegas Hilton), the New Products Awards Breakfast clues buyers in to the best of the best of the Show’s debut products. Plus, it’s a great chance to further network with manufacturers.





Automobile Events, Automobile Trade Show, Auto Show, Automotive Trade Show, Automotive Trade Shows
While there’s a lot to investigate inside the Show, you’ll also want to step outside the Convention Center halls to outdoor exhibits like the Dub Show Tour. Here you’ll see specialty equipment on display and in action—and get a glimpse at what’s wowingthe crowds.


Automobile Events, Automobile Trade Show, Auto Show, Automotive Trade Show, Automotive Trade Shows
Announced on the Show’s first day, the SEMA Award honors the event’s most prominent OEM vehicle platforms. The awards are considered a barometer of the vehicles that enthusiasts are most likely to modify and a way to identify what cars will be hot in the coming year.

It’s no secret that Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Products Showcase is the SEMA Show’s most popular section among buyers. Located in the upper level, east end of South Hall, Ideas Alive delivers more than 25,000 sq. ft. of innovations that you’ll definitely want to examine up close. In addition to new products, the section boasts a Featured Products section where exhibitors display selected high-volume products, regardless of introduction date. All entries are barcoded so that you can easily scan and download essential information. The Showcase opens each morning at 8:00 a.m., prior to main Show hours, so you can get a jump on your day. In addition to the Showcase, there’s the New Products Award Breakfast (Tuesday, October 30, 7:30 a.m.–8:45 a.m., at the LVH, formerly Las Vegas Hilton, Ballrooms A–F), where the winners of the New Products Showcase judging are announced. You can get your free ticket when you register for the Show or via your registration dashboard.

4. Explore Off-Road Success

If you’ve ever wanted to more fully explore the fast-growing, high-profit off-road segment, you won’t want to miss the Show’s new Off-Road Success Center, presented by OMIX-ADA/Rugged Ridge. Located in booth #30147 of the upper South Hall within the Show’s Truck, SUVs & Off-Road section, the exhibition features educational seminars, one-on-one consultations, demonstrations and free print materials relating to this ever-growing industry category. Aimed at business owners and decision makers, the Off-Road Success Center offers a purpose-built venue to exchange ideas, learn new concepts for success and network with other like-minded businesspeople. Buyers will especially enjoy the wide range of Show vehicles, including vintage models provided by Jeep Jamboree USA and OMIX-ADA.

5. Catch the SEMA Award Winners

Among the highlights of the SEMA Show are the hundreds of Show vehicles loaded with specialty-equipment products. Street rods, musclecars, exotics, compacts, trucks—you’ll see them all. But buyers will want to pay special attention to the annual SEMA Award winners, announced on the Show’s first day, Tuesday, October 30 from 9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. at the Vehicle Technology Center in the Grand Lobby of the LVCC. Each year, Show organizers survey qualified booth vehicles to tabulate the most prominent models. The results fall into four categories: Hottest Car, Hottest Truck, Hottest Sport Compact and Hottest 4x4-SUV. These reflect the vehicle platforms that manufacturers believe enthusiasts are most likely to modify. For astute buyers, the awards offer an ideal barometer of trending products in the marketplace.

6. Take a Look Outside

As a buyer, it’s easy to spend all your time in the Las Vegas Convention Center—but don’t! You’ll also want to step outside where you can see specialty-equipment parts in action and gauge what’s currently exciting automotive enthusiasts. Start with the Global Rallycross Championship race, which comes to the SEMA Show on opening night, Tuesday, October 30, over a course specially constructed on LVCC grounds directly across from the convention hall. Then, throughout the Show, Ford again presents its current crop of racing vehicles in the Ford Out Front exhibition in the lot fronting the Convention Center. The experience showcases the automaker’s high-performance driving stars as they demonstrate drifting, gymkhana and freestyle driving in the manufacturer’s specially equipped race cars. Meanwhile, the DUB Show Tour makes its annual final stop at the 2012 SEMA Show. Featuring artists and entertainers along with the publication’s vast display of custom cars, trucks, SUVs, exotics, lowriders and motorcycles, you’ll also find this event in front of the Convention Center. Equally dynamic, the GM Proving Grounds between the Central and South Halls includes the Chevy Drive feature, where attendees can hitch a ride with professional drivers.

7. Stay for the SEMA Cruise

Although the SEMA Show has always been the highlight of the year for the specialty-equipment industry, the highlight for the local populace is now the SEMA Cruise, a feature introduced at last year’s Show. The SEMA Cruise begins when the Show ends at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. As the booths are dismantled and the products are packed up for shipment home, the display vehicles are driven en masse out of the Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s not only one last chance for buyers to see the Show’s amazing vehicles, but it also represents another prime opportunity to witness firsthand which cars and products capture consumer enthusiasm on the street.

8. Think SEMA Year-Round

As the specialty-equipment industry’s number-one trade association, SEMA is much more than its annual Show. Membership brings year-round benefits, including ongoing education and networking opportunities, market research, legislative advocacy, industry news and international relationships. SEMA can also help your business with insurance, freight savings, consumer credit programs and more. If you aren’t taking full advantage of SEMA membership, now is the perfect time to deepen your relationship with the association. Be sure to visit the Show’s Association Center in the Grand Lobby (between North and Central Halls) to learn more about all of the ongoing programs and services SEMA members enjoy.