SEMA News—November 2019


Tips for 2019 SEMA Show Attendees

Key Show Features to Maximize Your Show Experience

By Mike Imlay

The world’s premier automotive trade event, the SEMA Show is always a flurry of business activity. Fortunately, the Show’s planners have built in a number of attendee features and tools to help buyers focus on the opportunities that best fit their goals.

Anticipation is building as attendees descend on Las Vegas for the 2019 SEMA Show, November 5–8. And why not? Post-Show surveys from last year’s event reported sky-high levels of buyer satisfaction. Among the top attendee objectives were seeing new products (84%), getting ideas (74%), keeping up to date on industry trends (69%), and finding new vendors (58%). Most significant, however, was that an overwhelming majority rated the event as worth the time and cost of attending.

According to SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso, such satisfaction closely correlates to the amount of pre-planning attendees put into their Show experience. In other words, attendees who give the Show some thought, define their objectives and formulate a game plan ahead of time inevitably reap the most rewards, finding their businesses well positioned for the coming year.

“I always like to point out that if you see each Show day as a potential series of five-minute conversations with exhibitors, it means 93 conversations a day for a total of 372 conversations by end of week—and that’s without breaks or participating in other Show activities,” Gattuso explained. “Ultimately, your success as a buyer relies on maximizing those conversations and making every minute count, so planning ahead is crucial. Again and again, we find that the buyers who report the most return on their Show investments are the ones who leverage all the key features that we’ve built into the Show for their advantage.”

With that in mind, the following are some of the most important features and tools attendees should consider for their 2019 SEMA Show game plan.

If you look at the SEMA Show as a nonstop series of five-minute conversations with exhibitors, it amounts to 372 conversations by week’s end—without a break! Obviously, a buyer’s return on investment hinges on qualifying prospects and making every minute count.

Consult the Mobile App and SEMA Publications

“Each year, we continue to refine and update our official SEMA Show mobile app to make it an essential tool for attendees,” Gattuso said. “For 2019, we’ve expanded the app’s scanning capabilities beyond the New Products Showcase to include QR-coded vehicles on the Show floor itself, so now you can locate products used in those builds. Moreover, the app features turn-by-turn direction capability, transportation schedules, press releases, the ability to build an appointment calendar and more [See sidebar, p. 50]. The app virtually puts the SEMA Show in your pocket and is an ideal tool for pre-Show planning, attending the Show, and then following up afterward.”

Additional Show-planning resources include SEMA eNews, SEMA News and the SEMA Show Daily, which is distributed each morning at the Show.

“All those resources are specifically designed to provide the information you need before the Show so that you can make the most of your time while there,” Gattuso said. “Most of those resources also live past the Show in some shape or form, because an important part of every Show plan is a good post-Show follow-up strategy and analysis.”

More than 3,000 new and featured products are slated to appear in the 2019 SEMA Show New Products Showcase, which opens daily at 8:00 a.m., making it the ideal one-stop location for previewing the industry’s latest innovations up close.

Carefully Weigh Transportation Options

Due to ongoing construction at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), many of the usual parking lots will not be available for this year’s SEMA Show. Fortunately, there are a number of other convenient and cost-effective options to consider.

“Surveys from our 2018 Showgoers found that those who utilized alternatives to driving and parking at the convention center experienced greater overall satisfaction from the Show,” Gattuso noted. “Although we’ve found that hotel shuttles and the monorail are two of the best choices for Showgoers, we know that everyone’s needs are unique. The important thing is to plan in advance, know what the options are, and select the ones that work best for you.”

The following is a quick overview of the options. For a complete list of transportation services and shuttle schedules, see
p. 404 of this issue or visit

  • First there’s the Monorail, which stops right in front of the LVCC. Trams leave every seven minutes throughout the day, starting as early as 6:00 a.m. and staying open until 2:00 a.m. on Show days. (Allow ample time to board during peak hours).
  • Free shuttle bus service from every major hotel is also available on all Show days and runs every 20–30 minutes to and from partner hotels.
  • Taxi and ride-sharing services operate from two designated transportation hubs where taxis and services such as Uber and Lyft can drop off and pick up quickly and easily.
  • Registered buyers (retailers/warehouse distributors/jobbers) who are SEMA members can also utilize the express taxi lines from the convention center 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 the SEMA Central upstairs in the LVCC Grand Lobby.)
The Show’s annual Tuesday-morning New Products Awards Breakfast offers attendees a unique opportunity for trend spotting and surveying all the top new innovations across a broad range of industry categories.

Start Tuesday Morning With the New Products Awards Breakfast

As a buyer, you won’t want to miss the SEMA Show’s annual New Products Awards Breakfast, which takes place Tuesday, November 5, from 7:30 a.m.–9:00 a.m. in the Westgate Las Vegas Casino & Hotel’s Paradise Event Center. The breakfast recognizes outstanding achievements in the development of products being introduced to the automotive specialty-equipment market through the Show. That makes it a unique opportunity for trend-spotting and surveying all the top new innovations across a broad range of industry segments. Products are judged in 16 award categories, with each awards category having one winner and two

Tour the New Products Showcase

In addition to what you’ll see at Tuesday’s awards breakfast, more than 3,000 exciting new and featured products are slated to appear in the New Products Showcase, which opens daily at 8:00 a.m., an hour before the Show halls open. Located on the Skybridge between South and Central Halls, the Showcase is the quickest and easiest way to preview the latest technologies and items that attendees can expect to encounter on the Show floor.

“Our post-Show surveys tell us that the Showcase is the number-one Show feature for successful industry buyers and the media year after year,” Gattuso said. “This year, we’re expecting more innovation than we’ve ever seen, so the Showcase is the single best way to focus on the products most relevant to you. Our hope is that you’ll visit the Showcase, scan the items you want to learn more about, and then organize your schedule through the Show app and other guide materials to connect with those products’ exhibitors on the Show floor.”

At no cost for attendees and open to the public, SEMA Ignited caps off the SEMA Show on Friday night with drifting exhibitions, show vehicles, live music, entertainment and plenty of open-air thrills.

Navigate the Show Floor

After visiting the New Products Showcase and creating a Show plan comes the exciting part: actually hitting the Show floor. The 2019 SEMA Show will feature more than 2,400 exhibitors organized into 12 sections, reflecting all of the industry’s major categories. From Racing & Performance to Wheels & Accessories, every section is color-coded with easy-to-see signage. You’ll also find the sections listed and described on the mobile app, in the SEMA Show Pocket Guide and even color keyed on the front page of the SEMA Show Daily, which is available at designated kiosks in the LVCC.

“Thanks to our incredible industry involvement, those 12 sections bustle each year with business activity, including hundreds of new exhibitors who literally help push the physical boundaries of the Show,” Gattuso said. “That’s why we’ve dedicated several new and featured-exhibitor expansion areas just for first-time and featured companies. Those are must stops for buyers, since they’re filled with interesting businesses displaying a wide variety of fresh ideas and products.”

The expansion areas include the Performance Pavilion on the south side of the convention center; two areas along the eastern aisles of the Upper and Lower South Halls; the Racing Annex in rooms N109–110 between North and Central Halls; and the Westgate Pavilion area of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino just north of the LVCC.

In addition to those areas, make sure to also set aside some fun-and-learning time at the Show’s many interactive exhibits and demonstrations, including two new special features: The SEMA Overland Experience and SEMA Electrified (see to the right).

The Performance Pavilion, located just outside the South Hall, is one of five expansion areas specially dedicated to first-time and featured exhibitors, who bring never-before-seen products and new ideas to the SEMA Show.

Explore the Growing Overlanding Phenomenon

Buyers at the 2019 SEMA Show will be able to see products and vehicles specifically for overlanding in the all-new SEMA Overland Experience area. Located in the Performance Pavilion, this special Show feature will include dozens of customized vehicles with fully popped-out tents, sunshades fully outfitted for survival, and portable kitchen systems displayed among exhibitors supporting the growing overlanding market. Also in the area, experts will share and discuss trends, business opportunities and challenges in the overlanding market.

“The new Overland Experience showcases a growing segment in the aftermarket,” Gattuso said. “With overlanding products as well as vehicles and education exhibits displayed in a centralized location, attendees can gain a comprehensive understanding of what the market entails and how they can build overlanding into their businesses.”

With many similarities and connections to off-roading, overlanding products have been common sights at the SEMA Show. The phenomenon has strong roots in countries that include Australia and South Africa as well as certain parts of South America, and it has taken off in the United States during the past decade.

Discover Vehicle Electrification

Vehicle electrification is advancing and making its mark in new and surprising ways. That’s the premise behind another 2019 SEMA Show debut feature entitled SEMA Electrified. Located in Booth #34000 in the Upper South Hall lobby, SEMA Electrified will showcase the latest electrification trends and technological innovations that are redefining the performance aftermarket. Some custom electric-vehicle conversions will be spotlighted along with some of the parts and products that are currently driving the market.

“As a trade association, SEMA looks down the road for emerging trends in performance and hot rodding, and we see electrification as a modern-day expression of those enthusiast pursuits,” Gattuso explained. “SEMA Electrified offers the industry an opportunity to see where this growing segment within the marketplace can take us in the next five to 10 years.”

Meet With Data-Rich Brands

Today’s buyers know that almost every product sale starts online, so finding great products with rich product data to support their sales can be a key factor in maximizing success. The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) has product data from more than 400 brands to choose from, with hundreds exhibiting at this year’s SEMA Show. The brands with the most complete product data are given the rating of Platinum.

To make them easier to find on the Show floor, those Platinum brands are featured in an 2019 Show Guide to Brands With Platinum-Rated Product Data booklet, which includes booth locations by Show sections. The booklet is available at SEMA Central and the New Products Showcase. Each Show section will also highlight Platinum exhibitors on meter panels, and carpet floor ads will help guide buyers to their booths, identified with Platinum-member sign cards on tables or counters.

Further Your Professional Growth

Although buyer surveys indicate that most attendees come to the SEMA Show in search of new products, personal enrichment and professional growth are also high on their priority lists. That’s why the 2019 SEMA Show offers an expanded education program of more than 100 seminars delving into the latest industry trends, vehicle technologies, small-business strategies, and best practices. Running throughout the week, most of the seminars are free. Registration is simple, and the full education calendar can be found at

“In addition to our usual education tracks in the Upper North Hall, we’ve also added two new education areas on the Show floor itself this year,” Gattuso noted. “They represent a developmental concept to bring education directly to our end users. The first area will be located toward the east side of Lower South Hall, with programs hosted by DUB founder Myles Kovacs and focusing on topics of interest to the wheel and tire industry, along with general business best practices. The second area on the Show floor will be part of the SEMA Overland Experience in the Performance Pavilion and will feature category experts sharing what overlanding is, how it can be valuable to your business, and different ways it can be incorporated into enthusiast vehicle builds.”

2019 SEMA Show Mobile App Available Now

Show AppThe official 2019 SEMA Show mobile app is now available free for download at The app offers attendees access to a comprehensive list of all exhibiting companies, seminars, events and more so they can create a personalized plan and maximize their time at the Show.

New this year is an interactive feature that gives users detailed information on featured vehicles displayed throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center. By simply scanning a vehicle’s QR code, located on a Feature Vehicle sticker attached to the vehicle during check-in, the app will display the vehicle’s year, make and model; information on the exhibitor displaying the vehicle; and a list of products used on the vehicle. The app also allows users to access a list of exhibitors from 2019 and any saved product information. Other features of the 2019 SEMA Show mobile app include:

  • Turn-by-Turn Directions: Find the quickest route from one place to another without the need of a GPS or data service.
  • My Schedule: Create an itinerary to keep track of events you wish to attend.
  • New Products Showcase: View all the products entered in the New Products Showcase, with detailed information, photos and the exact locations in the Showcase where they’re displayed, along with directions to their exhibitors on the Show floor.
  • Product Scanner: Use your smartphone as a scanner at the New Products Showcase to create a list and map of the scanned products.
  • Maps: View floorplans of all SEMA Show halls and how/where they connect to make passage from hall to hall easy.
  • Exhibitors: Look up all 2019 SEMA Show exhibitors by name, Show section or product category.
  • Events, Celebrity Appearances and Speakers: Listings of all the events, seminars, conferences, celebrity appearances and speakers, including day, time
    and location.
  • Social Media: Keep up with the feeds of the official SEMA Show social-media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Ground Transportation: Find the best way to arrive at the LVCC. Get information on the Las Vegas monorail, rideshares and hotel shuttles, including pickup locations.
  • SEMA eNews Stay up-to-date with the latest news before, during and after the Show.

The 2019 SEMA Show mobile app can be downloaded at no cost from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or

Experience High-Performance Action

While attendees could easily spend most of their Show days inside the LVCC exhibit halls, the 2019 SEMA Show offers plenty of automotive action outdoors as well. For a change of pace, be sure to get outside the South Hall to booth #69000, where you’ll find the Continental Tire Extreme Experience. One of many open-air attractions, it is the place to hitch a drifting ride in a car equipped with new Continental performance tires while an on-site DJ provides tunes amid a display of project vehicles that have been crafted for the Show by some of world’s most gifted builders.

Meanwhile, in the Silver Lot fronting the South Hall booth #62000, you’ll also find the popular Hoonigan “SEMA of Shred” exhibition featuring the Hoonigan cast and vehicles, along with demonstrations, burnouts and trademark donuts. Attendees are invited to watch two live events each day, and Showgoers unable to attend can still take in the action on Hoonigan’s Twitch channel or view highlights at the Show’s daily YouTube feed.

Close by, in the Silver Lot fronting the Central Hall, you can also visit Ford Out Front, which offers attendees ride-alongs with professional drivers on a closed course. Or skip the ride and simply watch the thrills. Either way, Ford Out Front is also where attendees can view a number of Ford-based projects and Show vehicles from some of the world’s best-known Blue Oval builders and customizers.

Amid all the outdoor action and displays, there’s also the Optima Street Car Alley. Situated along the strip between the LVCC North Hall and the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, the alley will feature more than 80 of Optima Batteries’ Ultimate Street Car Invitational competitors. (In addition, Optima Ultimate Street Car entrants will kick off the SEMA Cruise by leading the motorcade to SEMA Ignited.)

Keep at It Through Friday

“Since their SEMA Show credentials provide entrance to all four days of the event, we strongly encourage buyers to participate all week long,” Gattuso said. “We understand that the last day is considered a throwaway for many trade shows, but we take the exact opposite approach with Friday at the SEMA Show. We pack more value into our last day than any other trade event, and our post-Show surveys indicate that industry buyers and company executives have responded positively, staying through Friday and reporting more business than ever.”

Certainly there’s still plenty to see and do. Along with an active Show floor, SEMA Show education continues with Friday sessions; networking events are scheduled into the afternoon and evening; and the New Products Showcase remains open until the very end of the Show. Meanwhile, the Top 12 SEMA Battle of the Builders contestants are selected and judged—all adding up to an awesome culmination to the industry’s premier business week.

Moreover, once the Show officially ends at 4:00 p.m., the engines again start for the SEMA Cruise—a parade of more than 1,000 Show vehicles from the convention center that draws thousands of fans. Always a Showgoer favorite, the parade winds its way to the Platinum Lot on the convention center’s east side. In addition, the gates to the lot open at 3:00 p.m. for SEMA Ignited, the Show’s official after-party and a night of food, live entertainment, celebrities and drifting demonstrations, not to mention the announcement of the SEMA Battle of the Builders winner. The entire event is open to the public, but your SEMA Show badge admits you free, making it the perfect top-off to all your successful Show planning.

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