SEMA News—November 2013
By Mike Imlay
SEMA Show Guide for Buyers
Make Sure Your To-Do List Includes These Items
As the world’s premier automotive aftermarket trade event, the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) can seem overwhelming. How do you cover well over a million square feet of display vehicles, product innovations and special events in just a few short days? The secret, according to SEMA Show Director Tom Gattuso, is to start strategizing ahead of time.
“The SEMA Show is like the Super Bowl,” said Gattuso. “A buyer can’t just show up and hope to win. You have to have a strategy. The more you plan ahead, the more productive you will be. We talk to buyers extensively after each Show and find that those who had a plan are substantially more successful.”
The following are some items to consider when creating your game plan for the 2013 SEMA Show, courtesy of the Show organizers.
Explore Member Buyer Rewards
While the annual SEMA Show is not just for those who belong to the association, there are quite a few perks to being a member when Show time comes around. SEMA-member exhibitors have long enjoyed substantial discounts on booth space, in addition to exclusive exhibitor VIP lounges in each hall. This year, there will be a number of special perks for member buyers, courtesy of the new Member Buyer Rewards (MBR) card.
With your MBR card, you’ll gain access to an exclusive buyers lounge section, located in the SEMA Members Lounge in the North Hall, room N251. There you’ll find complimentary coffee, water and snacks during Show hours Tuesday through Friday. You’re also invited to participate in the Happy Hour in the Lounge, 4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, and 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. on Friday.
The card further entitles you to transportation benefits, including a dedicated MBR Taxi Line, which will be available in front of Central and South Halls from 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. on Friday. If you prefer the monorail, take advantage of the comp one-way monorail tickets offered to the first 500 member buyers to step up for the privilege. Tickets are available at the MBR Lounge.
Last but not least, your MBR card gets you into the reserved seating sections at the SEMA New Product Awards Breakfast on Tuesday and the NHRA Breakfast on Wednesday. Tickets are required and space is limited for these events, so arrive early!
Pre-registered member buyers were mailed their MBR cards in mid-October. Those who have not received their badges can pick them up in the MBR Lounge during Show hours. To learn more about SEMA membership and these exclusive rewards, visit the membership team at the Association Center in the LVCC Grand Lobby.
New Products Showcase
Show surveys indicate that 87% of buyers consider new products their first priority at Show opening, and nearly 60% plan to purchase a product introduced at the Show. The best way to find them is the SEMA Show’s New Products Showcase, which has become the number-one destination for attendees, greatly influencing buyer purchasing decisions.
At the Showcase, buyers can obtain a wealth of product information that will be relevant well into 2014 by taking advantage of free scanners. Provided via “Free Scanner Pickup” booths located around the New Products Showcase, the units can be used by buyers to scan all the products they’re interested in while examining and researching additional products. There’s no limit to the number of products buyers may scan, and the information is gathered electronically, so it can be retrieved or printed immediately.
With new exhibitor and product information in hand, buyers can concentrate on making deals and spend more time on the Show floor connecting with existing partners and new suppliers. The Showcase also boasts a Featured Products section, where exhibitors get to display signature and legacy products that, although not strictly new, will nevertheless be of interest to buyers.
“We organize the 2,000 new and featured products in a convenient format and make it easy to collect exhibitor information,” said Gattuso. “It’s literally as simple as scanning the products you’re interested in and having the information e-mailed to you for future reference. We think buyers appreciate the convenience.”
Get the SEMA Show Mobile App
While SEMA Show planners still offer attendees traditional print maps and plenty of directional signage around the LVCC, there’s also now a free mobile app to help you find your way around. Designed for both iPhones and Android smartphones, it’s a great portable resource for locating exhibitors and other vital show activities.
“I like the mobile app because it’s connected to your registration dashboard, which can not only be accessed from any mobile device, but also from your desktop,” explained Gattuso. “We’re always trying to find ways to combine multiple tools in one. Our vision for the mobile app is to have it be the one tool you use to coordinate your registration, events, travel, appointment calendar and floorplan while getting important Show announcements. Technology is moving fast, and we’re working to leverage it to make things more convenient.”
To download the “SEMA Show 2013” app, simply visit your appropriate smartphone marketplace.
Attend Cars & Coffee
Among the 2013 SEMA Show’s new attractions is Cars & Coffee—SEMA Edition, Featuring West Coast Customs. Taking place in the outdoor patio on the south side of the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) adjacent to the LVCC North Hall from 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m. each morning of the Show, Cars & Coffee gives attendees a great place to start their daily Show experience. Grab a cup of coffee and donut, check out a special exhibit of cool display vehicles, mingle with colleagues, and then hit the ground running by visiting the newly expanded Featured Exhibitors section at the LVH. Presenting some of the industry’s newest exhibitors, the LVH exhibits open at 8:00 a.m.—well before the Show floor opens.
Enjoy New Food Options
Let’s face it: Touring the Show is an exciting but fast-paced adventure, often leaving little time for eating. This year, the SEMA Show debuts enhanced food options in the form of “Filling Stations” and “Pit Stops.” Comprised of food trucks and carts placed in strategic locations, they will offer different eating choices than the standard food-court fare. You’ll find their locations on Show maps or by the clearly visible signage on the Show floor. Even better, buyers are entitled to vouchers for a free drink at any of the locations. The vouchers will be distributed at registration, around the Show, and at bus stops, monorail entrances and similar venues.
Make Time for Education
The SEMA Show’s education tracks offer tremendous value for buyers. There are diverse sessions providing industry insight into consumer buying habits, the latest trends and technologies and practical retail marketing strategies that produce results. In addition, buyers will benefit from the business-management and customer-service tracks focused on improving the bottom line.
“Add to that the fact that you can interact and share notes with other buyers from all over the world, and the return on investment really starts to add up,” said Gattuso.
This year, the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) will offer more than 50 free education sessions in addition to paid seminars, providing an unprecedented opportunity for buyers to swing into a seminar room while at the Show. Subject-matter experts and industry veterans present all of the educational offerings. For complete details and the latest education schedule, visit www.SEMAShow.com/education.
Stay for the SEMA Cruise
Although the SEMA Show is an exclusive, trade-only event, consumers and auto enthusiasts everywhere follow it closely. Thanks to the SEMA Cruise, outsiders can now get a sense of the incredible array of vehicles and products that were on display within the LVCC walls. As a buyer, you can gauge audience reaction to get insight into to what’s wowing the crowds.
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 parade out of the LVCC for the local Las Vegas audience and media. As tempting as an early start on the road after Show closing may be, you’ll want to stay for this one last event to see the vehicles and their specialty-equipment products get their street creds.
Getting the Most From SEMA
SEMA has many business resources and cost-saving programs available to members—perhaps more than you can imagine. The challenge for many members is that there are so many benefits to choose from that it’s often difficult to know which apply to their company, so they don’t take full advantage of the opportunities.
No matter what your business model may be, SEMA has tools available for you and your employees. To ensure that you’re making the most of your SEMA membership, visit the Association Center in the Grand Lobby between the North and Central Halls. There you can talk with SEMA staff and representatives from each of SEMA’s member-benefit partners to find out which programs can help your business save and even make more money.
In only a few minutes, you can learn which programs are applicable to your business and how easy it is to take advantage of the resources.
Some examples include shipping and logistics solutions and services from UPS; business insurance (liability, property, workers’ compensation insurance and more) from Specialty Equipment Insurance Alliance; a merchant credit-card program courtesy of the CarCareONE Consumer financing program through GE Capital Retail Bank; and discounted credit-card processing solutions with First Data.
Of course, if you aren’t already a SEMA member, the Association Center staff will be happy to assist you in learning more about the trade organization, and how to join.