By Della Domingo
SEMA vice president of events Tom Gattuso recently answered questions about the 2021 SEMA Show’s health and safety plans. Read below for more details, or visit www.SEMAShow.com for the most up-to-date information about the SEMA Show.
Q: What is SEMA, AAPEX and Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week?
Tom Gattuso: The SEMA Show and AAPEX are two different shows that take place during the first week of November in Las Vegas each year. Together, they make up the automotive industry’s leading trade gathering—it’s an exciting weeklong event that we call Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, or AAIW for short. Both events are B2B, and they help companies succeed and grow. They are conveniently co-located within a few miles of one another, and a single attendee registration allows access into both events; but, as mentioned earlier, the SEMA Show and AAPEX are two unique and different events.
AAPEX takes place Tuesday through Thursday at the Venetian Expo & Caesars Forum, and it features aftermarket replacements parts—the type of products that are required to keep your car or truck running.
The SEMA Show is a four-day show taking place Tuesday through Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and it features products and services that enhance the performance, styling, comfort, convenience and safety of cars, trucks and SUVs. It’s where you’ll find the eye candy and discover the newest products available to modify and personalize your vehicle into a one-of-a-kind creation—from superchargers and performance brakes to seat covers and custom paint or bedliners. The SEMA Show covers ever market niche, so whether you work in racing and performance, off-road, restyling, mobile electronics or another segment, this is the place to discover the new trends and products, and to connect with other businesses in your segment.
Both events include seminars, meetings and events for the automotive industry, so businesses can get a lot accomplished while in Las Vegas during the week. It makes for a really busy week, but with the entire industry in attendance and so many activities taking place, it is the best place for businesses to be, and participation delivers the greatest ROI.
Q: If the two events share registrations, why are there two different health and safety policies (or strategies) in place? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have one policy that applies to both events?
TG: The COVID landscape is complicated, and organizations are making decisions and planning in their own ways. SEMA believes that we will serve our industry best by having the benefit of some time, which will give us more current and reliable decisions from state and local authorities for the event taking place in November. We’ve seen a lot change in the past few weeks, and we anticipate more changes to come. We’re working with Nevada authorities to understand what will be needed for the SEMA Show. We believe we will have a better read in the weeks ahead and will act accordingly.
Q: Is there a chance SEMA will implement the same measures AAPEX and other events are implementing, and require proof of vaccination in order to attend?
TG: It’s not possible to know with certainty today what the Nevada requirements will be in November. Rather than speculate on what may or may not be required, we are closely monitoring the COVID landscape and working with state and local authorities, and we will share details that the industry can rely on as soon as we can.
Q: How long will we have to wait until SEMA makes a decision?
TG: We don’t have a specific date at this time, but we can tell you that we are 100% committed to having the Show in November and helping the industry and our customers succeed. As soon as we learn the specific measures that will be required in November by state and local governments, we will share those details by posting them on our websites, in our social media channels, and emailing registered participants. We will do everything we can to notify our customers as soon as possible.
Q: It sounds like masks are required at all indoor events in Las Vegas. Should I be prepared to have to wear a mask all day long while at the SEMA Show?
TG: Currently (as of this September 1, 2021, interview), Nevada does require that masks be worn by everyone while indoors in Las Vegas, but that may change. We will have to assess the situation and the requirements that will be place, and it’s just a bit too early to make that determination. We’ll know more in the coming weeks. Also, there is more than a million square feet of outdoor activation space, including feature vehicles, displays, drifting and ride and drive experiences, where masks are not required.
Q: Doesn’t SEMA have an option to require proof of vaccinations from attendees, and then not require masks to be worn the entire time?
TG: That is not currently (as of September 1, 2021, interview) an option for events such as trade shows in Las Vegas. Nevada recently announced an option for fixed-seat event organizers—such as concerts and football games—to require proof of vaccination from attendees in Las Vegas, and not require masks be worn. It seems that many do not realize that this option does not apply to trade shows—the current requirement in Nevada is for masks to be worn by all individuals while indoors in Las Vegas regardless.
This is an example of the confusion that recent changes have created. We will have greater clarity about the November requirements for trade shows in the coming weeks, and will announce details at that time.
Q: Lots of people are saying they want proof of vaccination, masks, pre-event testing. Why not set those requirements now?
TG: The COVID-19 landscape is changing week to week. We need to rely on the health experts and believe that the safety measures that will make sense to the greatest number of people are the measures that Nevada health authorities will have in place after a few more weeks pass, and we get closer to our November Show dates.
Q: What are the other health and safety measures for the SEMA Show that are in place?
TG: The basics for a successful 2021 SEMA Show are already in place and we are prepared for the industry to reconnect in November. Inside the LVCC, there is an upgraded GBAC Star Certified Air System. This is a hospital-grade system and represents the highest standard for daily cleaning and sanitization. The new West Hall also provided us with higher ceilings and 25% more space, so we can spread out more and have wider aisles throughout the entire convention center and accommodate attendees to distance more freely. We will also have hand-sanitizing stations throughout the event, and daily cleaning in high-traffic areas.
We also know that, unlike a year ago, trade shows today are taking place successfully throughout the country. A year ago, gatherings were limited to no more than 250 people. At the Las Vegas Convention Center, 17 events are scheduled to take place between now and the SEMA Show.
The health and safety of those at the Show is important to us, and we are confident that the 2021 SEMA Show is going to be an amazing event that will provide the industry with the best opportunity to reconnect and do business. There is two years’ worth of pent-up demand from the industry to reconnect in person, and the 2021 SEMA Show will give the industry with the best opportunity to do that.