Leaders of both the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) say their 2020 events will go on as scheduled.
AAPEX is co-hosted each year by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). The 2020 event is scheduled for Nov. 3-5.
Bill Hanvey, CEO and president of the Auto Care Association, and Phil McCarthy, president and chief operating officer at AASA, gave exhibitors an online video update on May 4.
Hanvey noted it was a “a very fluid situation,” and said organizers are monitoring both federal and state mandates. AAPEX will post coronavirus-related updates to this website.
“Unless the State of Nevada or the federal government tell us otherwise, we are on with AAPEX and the AWDA conference,” Hanvey said. (The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Assocation will meet in Las Vegas in the days before the opening of AAPEX, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2020.)
“If we do have to cancel, it would only be because of a government mandate. Then our plan would be to provide a 50% refund and 50% of the monies paid would go to (booth reservations) for AAPEX 2021”
McCarthy said there have been questions wondering if the shows could be delayed and rescheduled, but he said Las Vegas couldn’t accommodate the show on another date. And, “our partners in Industry Week, SEMA, are very positive about their show and they’re committed to moving forward with their show.
“We certainly understand some of the attendee concerns at this time. We’re in the heart of the stay-at-home orders. We’re in the trough of the sales. When you come down to it, we really don’t know what things will look like in the fall. What we do know is we are a relationship industry,” McCarthy said.
With that being said, he stressed “the most important thing is that our attendees’ health and safety is our primary concern. Whatever steps we take will be in line with what is recommended and what are best practices.
“The good news is that there are professional organizations that specialize in these type of protocols and we’ll be following all their guidelines. Obviously, we’ll be following what the state and federal government mandates say. And the Venetian and Sands have already released new guidelines that they have implemented and posted on their website.”
McCarthy said there are “a number of shows” scheduled before AAPEX at the Sands and Venetian, “so we’ll be watching those other shows, we’ll be learning from them. We’ll make sure that AAPEX is building on the lessons learned, the best practices again to ensure attendees’ health and safety.”
Without providing specific numbers, Hanvey said exhibitor support “is tracking slightly ahead of last year.” Last year AAPEX announced some new features that are to make their premier in 2020 – including the addition of a tire-related section in the new Repair Shop HQ. With the Repair Shop HQ, AAPEX organizers hope to attract more technicians to the show.
McCarthy said, “We’ve received a tremendous response to this new feature and it’s resulted in some commitments from major exhibitors to expand their presence at the show, so they have the opportunity to communicate directly with the end consumer.”
As for attendance, Hanvey said “we’re seeing the same type of optimism from the buyer side.”
McCarthy said they’re “cautiously optimistic” about attendance. “One positive sign is that people are registering and we haven’t even really announced registration. But registration was opened and we’ve seen things coming in, which is a good sign.”
AAPEX also has extended its exhibitor booth cancellation deadline to Sept. 1. Initially Hanvey noted that if an exhibitor chose to cancel, it would affect the company’s seniority for booth space and location in the future. But he and McCarthy have since revised the policy.
"Going forward, we will seek to find a policy that will reward companies participating this year and still recognize companies who have a long-standing relationship with AAPEX."
They're still working on the details, and plan to reveal them during their next Exhibitor Town Hall meeting, tentatively set for June 1.
Hanvey said, “We want this to be a profitable show for you. That’s critical that there is optimism going into 2021 and that optimism is built at the show.”
The update from SEMA
Nathan Ridnouer, vice president of SEMA councils and membership, told members of the Wheel and Tire Council on May 6 that the 2020 SEMA Show, scheduled for Nov. 3-6, will happen.
“We are excited about moving forward with the show this year,” Ridnouer said. “There’s a lot of time between today May the 6th and November and we’re expecting a lot of things to happen between now and that time.
“When we all get to Las Vegas, it’s going to be a heck of a time for the industry to be excited about ending this crisis, but also jumping forward into the new year.”
The Global Tire Expo - Powered by TIA also will be an important part of this year's SEMA Show, as in years past.
During the Wheel and Tire Council call, Roy Littlefield Jr., CEO of the Tire Industry Association (TIA,) discussed activities and events that TIA is planning to hold during SEMA week to celebrate the tire association's 100th anniversary.
In addition to the SEMA Show, SEMA also hosts the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in December in Indianapolis. The PRI event also will go on as scheduled.
“These events are well positioned to help us as an industry turn around more quickly. Also it will be in alignment with what the analysts are predicting that there will be improvement in the fourth quarter of the year.
“One of the reasons we’re going out so strong is because companies are relying on SEMA and PRI to be a resource for the industry going forward, not only a resource for conducting business but for debuting new products and also connecting with buyers who really want to get out there and make a splash with their customers.”
Ridnouer acknowledged there is work to be done related to safety and security precautions before crowds descend on the Las Vegas Convention Center. In some ways it will be similar to what the organization faced in 2017. SEMA had six weeks to enact new security measures after the shooting massacre on Oct. 1, 2017, at a concert at the Mandalay Bay.
“The SEMA staff came together to make sure that we not only had a great SEMA Show but a safe SEMA Show,” he said.
The organization is building a coalition of companies that host trade shows to understand the precautions others are putting in place. Details of what exhibitors and show attendees can expect in terms of safety protocols likely won’t be publicized until closer to the event. SEMA will post updates on this website.
Ridnouer wasn’t sure if another convention close to the size of the SEMA Show would take place in Las Vegas prior to the November event. The site is currently reserved as a backup location for emergency medical needs.
Ridnouer says there are “right around 2,000 companies that have put money down and are reserving their space for the 2020 SEMA Show.” He acknowledged that exhibitor registrations are down by 100 to 200 companies compared to a typical year.
SEMA has also opened up attendee registration – albeit three weeks later than normal – on April 20th.
“We really only have two weeks of data. We know things are moving. People are registering. They’re expecting a show, too.”
He said he couldn’t provide an estimate of the expected crowd for 2020. “As we get into the summer timeframe, we’ll get a better idea of how things are shaking out.”
As a way to work with exhibitors and their unease about committing to the 2020 SEMA Show in the midst of a global pandemic, SEMA is giving exhibitors until Sept. 1, 2020, to cancel their booths for this year’s show.