Las Vegas Learning
Having recently returned from the Automotive Industry Aftermarket Week in Las Vegas, which included the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) and International Autobody Conference and Expo (NACE), I reflected upon my trip and realized the power of the trade show.
First of all, everything in Las Vegas is over-the-top, including trade shows. Being over-the-top, however, may just be the best way to make it in business. The show was huge and so was the crowd there to partake of the information and networking opportunities available (see Sensory Overload on page 26 for more about SEMA). The way SEMA and NACE were designed, buyers (i.e. potential customers) were easily identifiable by the color of their badge holders, and it was quite clear that the show floor was packed with potential buyers. Trade shows are definitely worth their weight in airfare and drayage, though sometimes we have to take a step back and take in the big picture to realize it.
Secondly, trade shows allow companies and customers to meet face-to-face, something you just don’t get over the phone. Trust me, I know. Not only did I run into three of the participants from the International Window Film Expo and Tint-Off 2004, I also got to meet several members of the industry with whom I’ve been e-mailing for many months now. I got to meet them in person at SEMA, put a face to the names of those I was meeting for the first time, learn more about companies in the industry of which I’ve written so extensively and see what sort of “personality” each company has. Every company at the show has its own personality and its own way of setting themselves apart from others; be it a demonstration of goods, a catchy theme or slogan or a pretty woman handing out literature. How a company chooses to market itself and what buyers find themselves attracted to are all very telling about people as individuals and our industry as a whole.
Which leads me to my third and final point. When all else fails, hire a pretty woman. Pretty women can sell anything. The concept of the “booth babe” troubles me, but I have to admit, it doesn’t seem like such a bad job. They get paid well (one exhibitor—who didn’t hire any but was inundated with information about doing so—told me that booth models can bring in $500 a day, easily) and don’t necessarily have to know much about the company for which they are hired to work. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to sell my dignity any time soon, and as I know what it is to stand in heels all day, I’d rather continue on writing for this fine publication and bringing to our readers news and information fitting to our industry. I do hope, however, to see many more of you at the industry trade shows in the future, such as the International Window Film Conference and Expo (IWFE) 2005. The only event that caters to the entire window film industry, IWFE is designed with you in mind, from competition to seminar subjects. It’s just around the corner (February 25-28), and will be held in Orlando, Fla. In case you haven’t decided to join us there, we’ve got all the information you need to make your decision in our special pull-out section, pages 13-19.