By Mike Imlay
The return of the 2021 SEMA Show introduces attendees to exhibitors showcasing two years’ worth of new products and innovations developed since the last trade event. With so much to experience, attendees will want to hit the Show floor with a solid game plan.
With the last live Show having taken place a full two years ago, the aftermarket is roaring back to do business November 2–5 in a greatly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). If you’re a Show attendee, there will be much to see and experience that’s entirely new, updated or enhanced in some way, and while getting lost in all the booths, demonstrations and automotive eye candy might be fun, you don’t want to lose your business focus.
“As an attendee or buyer, your goal is obviously going to be maximizing your return on investment, especially after the many transformations our industry experienced since the last live SEMA Show,” said SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso. “Exhibitors and attendees alike have made a substantial commitment to our 2021 Show, and we’re 100% committed to their success. We’re on track to deliver an exciting, forward-looking Show that will reconnect the industry. If you’re an attendee, efficiently allocating your time and energy at the Show—and leveraging many of the special features we’ve created to help enhance business—can pay dividends in 2022 and beyond.”
With that in mind, the following are some proven attendee strategies for staying on track to get the most from the trade event (while still maintaining the fun
Download The App
Not surprisingly, SEMA Show surveys continually confirm that the most successful buyers are those who arrive at the Show with a game plan. Perhaps the single best step you can take right now is to download the 2021 SEMA Show mobile app.
Although the SEMA Show floor is organized by category and numbered to improve navigation, the app contains detailed exhibitor information, interactive floorplans, daily event information, updates and news—all accessible from your mobile device. In addition, it features a scanning function that allows attendees to capture product and exhibitor information from feature vehicles on display as well as from the New Products Showcase. Show organizers like to say that the app “puts the entire SEMA Show in your pocket,” and it’s available as a free download from your mobile device’s native app store or by logging on to www.SEMAShow.com/app.
Las Vegas is a bustling city, with exciting new building projects cropping up constantly. That can impact travel times to and from the convention center, but there are many ways to make your commute a breeze. Again, it just takes a little advanced planning.
First there’s the Monorail, which stops right in front of the LVCC. Trams run from seven stations serving the Las Vegas Strip every four to eight minutes throughout the day. Run times start as early as 6:00 a.m. and continue until 2:00 a.m. on Show days (3:00 a.m. on Friday). Allow ample time to board during peak hours.
Another option is the free shuttle bus service available each Show day from most major hotels. The buses run every 20–30 min. to and from partner hotels.
In addition, taxi and ride-sharing services also operate from three designated transportation hubs where taxis and services such as Uber and Lyft can drop off and pick up quickly and easily.
Finally, registered buyers (retailers, warehouse distributors and jobbers) who are SEMA members can also utilize the express taxi lines from the LVCC on Tuesday through Thursday, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., and Friday, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (For details regarding the express taxi lines for member buyers, visit Member Central upstairs in the LVCC Grand Lobby.)
Note that parking for personal vehicles is limited due to ongoing LVCC expansion, making the above transportation choices even more attractive. After all, your goal is to spend your valuable time at the Show, not in traffic.
For complete details about all of the above, including timetables, hubs and stops, see p. 276 of this issue or visit www.SEMAShow.com as well as the SEMA Show app.
Explore the New Products Showcase
This year, the New Products Showcase is moving to the Upper South Hall, booth #31255. Experienced attendees know that this is a must-see Show feature, and many make it their very first stop on opening day. The showcase puts thousands of new products on display each year from manufacturers representing every industry segment. Occupying 30,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space for 2021, it’s not only a window into what we can expect in the year ahead but also a look at the accumulated innovation that has taken place over the past two years while the SEMA Show was on hiatus.
Leave Plenty of Time to Investigate the Show Floor
With your game plan in hand, it’s time to hit the Show floor. Seek out your priority exhibitors for meaningful conversations about their new products and visions for 2022 and beyond, but also carve out plenty of time to simply walk the Show without a specific agenda.
To that end, the Show also presents numerous features and demonstrations geared toward a variety of industry trends and interests. For 2021, make sure to include the following on your must-see list:
- Feature Vehicle Displays (Various Locations)
The SEMA Show is renowned for the innovative parts and accessories displayed on Show vehicles representing every industry niche, from cars and trucks to powersports. Much more than rolling works of art, the vehicles offer an in-person look at real-life applications of the aftermarket’s latest and most impressive products. Located throughout the LVCC, the displays connect with Showgoers as an extension to the exhibit booths of the product creators.
- The Chip Foose Experience (North Hall)
For the first time ever, SEMA Show attendees can experience Chip Foose’s many one-of-a-kind automotive designs and renderings presented all in one place. In fact, 60 of his most famous designs and sketches featuring 20 of his most famous builds will be on display, including Ridler Winners and “Overhaulin’” builds. Foose will also demonstrate a live drawing/design on the stage—with projection onto big screens—creating a new set of custom wheels. You’ll then be able to observe the Wheel Pros team employ a CNC machine to cut out Foose’s custom wheel design live in the Wheel Pros Garage.
- SEMA Electrified (North Hall)
As a trade association, SEMA looks down the road for emerging trends in performance and hot rodding, and it views vehicle electrification as a modern-day expression of those enthusiast pursuits. SEMA Electrified is designed to showcase where this growing electrified vehicle (EV) segment might take us in the next five years and into the future. Attendees will see some incredible custom EV conversions and the parts, products and surprising technologies that are currently driving the market.
- SEMA Overland Experience (West Hall, Booth #62234)
Buyers at the 2021 SEMA Show will discover products and vehicles specifically dedicated to overlanding in the all-new SEMA Overland Experience area. Moving to the West Hall, the special exhibit will include dozens of customized vehicles with fully popped-out tents, sunshades outfitted for survival, and portable kitchen systems—all displayed courtesy of exhibitors supporting the growing overlanding market. With many similarities and crossovers to off-roading, overlanding has strong roots in Australia, South Africa and certain parts of South America, and it has taken off in the United States during the past decade.
Recharge Your Enthusiasm With the Show’s Outdoor Activities
With an expanded LVCC floorplan, the 2021 SEMA Show is now able to stretch out, greatly expanding breathing room and improving traffic flow. In the process, the Show’s outdoor features will get even more shine. Designed to demonstrate industry products in action, the features reflect the industry’s passion and excitement (plus yet more feature vehicles loaded with industry products to see). Getting outside can be a powerful reminder of what draws you to this industry in the first place. Key stops include:
- Hoonigan (Silver Lot 3)
A hit with Showgoers when they debuted at the 2018 SEMA Show, the Hoonigan gang returns for 2021 with an exhibition that transforms the Silver Lot into a faithful recreation of Hoonigan’s iconic Compton “Burnyard.” The outdoor exhibit will encompass celebrity influencers from the automotive realm and beyond as well as the brand’s signature antics, consisting of burnouts, donuts, wall taps, massive hucks and more. After the SEMA Show, attendees can also re-experience all the action on Hoonigan’s YouTube channel through an hour-long special.
- Ford Out Front (Silver Lot)
Visit Ford Out Front to see customization and capability. Located in front of the Central Hall, Ford Out Front provides SEMA attendees the opportunity to experience the power and performance of Ford vehicles by taking a ride with a professional driver. Whether you like to burn rubber or hear the call of the wild, the vehicles at Ford Out Front put on quite a show. Make sure you stop by the Ford Performance Parts trailer to see what’s new in parts and accessories. Don’t miss the action-packed drifting by SEMA’s ultimate fun-haver, Vaughn Gittin Jr., and stay to watch the newest addition to Ford Out Front, the Bronco family.
6. Take Advantage of Networking Events
Trade shows are all about forging business connections. In addition to connecting you with exhibitors on the Show floor, the SEMA Show also affords networking opportunities to further the interpersonal connections that can enrich you and your business.
Throughout Show Week, SEMA councils and networks will host numerous activities in and out of the LVCC (see p. 270).These especially offer a once-a-year chance to link up with like-minded professionals, celebrate the achievements of industry leaders, expand knowledge, and explore ways to get involved in year-round SEMA activities. (For further information about SEMA council and network activities, consult the SEMA Show Pocket Guide and/or the Show app, or visit SEMA Central.) Two of the Show’s biggest networking opportunities are:
- The International Happy Hour (Wednesday, November 3, 5:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m., LVCC West Hall, Room W233)
The International Happy Hour is the SEMA Show’s largest annual international specialty-equipment trade gathering. Attendees can join the event, have a drink on SEMA, and meet top international buyers and a panel of distinguished international journalists who serve as SEMA Global Media Award judges.
- The SEMA Industry Awards Banquet (Thursday, November 4, 6:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m., Westgate Garden Patio and Paradise Event Center)
The SEMA Industry Awards Banquet is the automotive specialty-equipment market’s premier awards ceremony, where industry excellence and achievements are celebrated. Held annually, the event is the industry’s single largest gala, attended by more than 2,500 automotive icons, professionals, supporters and celebrities.
This year’s event will feature a networking cocktail hour, dinner and special entertainment, including the finale of the SEMA Launch Pad competition. The program also includes the announcement of the SEMA Person of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year, WD of the Year, Rep Agency of the Year, Gen-III Innovator of the Year and tributes to this year’s SEMA Hall of Fame inductees: Jessi Combs, Rick Love, Bob Moore and Carl Schiefer.
Keep at It Through Friday
Years ago, Friday was considered a “wind-down” day at the SEMA Show, but that’s not the case nowadays. Business continues to get done on the Show floor right up to the event’s closing at 4:00 p.m. Show features and demonstrations also continue at full speed, making Friday an excellent day to catch up on activities you may have missed earlier in the week. In addition, two special post-Show events make staying at it through Friday especially worthwhile:
- The SEMA Cruise (Silver Drive)
Vehicles from the 2021 SEMA Show begin parading out of the Convention Center at Show close—4:00 p.m., November 5—to the delight of thousands of fans in grandstands along the route. Each year an impressive contingent of vehicles takes part in the Cruise, which for 2021 winds its way toward the West Hall parking lot and SEMA Ignited, the Show’s official after-party. Open to the public, the festivities include prize giveaways and entertainment. For attendees and crowds alike, the Cruise has become one of the Show’s most anticipated events and a perfect place to see how the industry resonates with enthusiast
- SEMA Ignited (West Hall Parking Lot)
The 2021 SEMA Show culminates at SEMA Ignited, the official after-party that gets hopping immediately after the Show ends. The event takes place in the LVCC West Hall Parking Lot—just a short walk away—and is free to all credentialed Show attendees.
Introduced in 2014, the annual event is also open to the general public, giving consumers the chance to glimpse some of the vehicles and excitement from the world-famous, trade-only SEMA Show. The party is a great way for Showgoers to unwind from the week while enjoying a night of food, entertainment, drifting demonstrations and more. Gates open at 3:00 p.m., and your SEMA Show badge serves as your free ticket. For more information, visit www.SEMAignited.com.