TOP 10 Tips for SEMA Show Attendees
What we learned from past experiences as attendees and exhibitors
The SEMA Show is the largest automotive specialty products trade show in the world. “SEMA” stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association. Every year thousands of manufacturers and customizers bring cutting-edge products and vehicles to the show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
If you are planning to attend SEMA, our handy top ten best tips will help.
With over one hundred countries participating, this event has unlimited potential for business expansion and maximum viewing for your products and/or vehicles. It is also a place that can overwhelm you and turn what could be an awesome opportunity into a wretched trip that you won’t want to repeat.
From transportation to your health, these are the ten best tips for the SEMA show and will help you get the most out of your SEMA experience.
There are many things to do and people to meet. You will want to be at your best physically, so we are including some side tips for your mental and physical well-being. Las Vegas is a different climate, and your body may suffer jet lag and shock from the warm dry air. The tips for your health are at the bottom of the post.
1. Register Now
Register now, whether you are an exhibitor at SEMA or just an attendee. The show is restricted to industry only, but Registration is easy and straightforward, and there’s no reason why you should be scrambling for your credentials when you arrive.
You must have registration complete and a badge to enter the SEMA Auto Show.
2. SEMA Free Printouts – Useful Tools
You can find information in your registration packet or at the registration desk when you arrive to pick up credentials. The maps will help you and are important for your planning. Do not rely on the same category or vendors to be in the same locations from year to year. They will change, in most cases. Every vendor is looking for an improvement on positioning from year to year.
There are three critical pieces of documentation that you will find useful if not critical to a successful trip:
SEMA MAP – This map helps you navigate all of the buildings, conference and meeting rooms and all the different sections that are most relevant to your business.
SEMA Pocket Guide – Use this pamphlet to help you find the business, product or speaker you are looking for. Whether you are going to SEMA to see all the newest and greatest products, or as a member of the media.
SEMA Magazine – This small magazine style piece of media shows you all the newest exhibitors for the SEMA show, along with awesome vehicles and builders and which are being judged for awards during the show. This will cover indoors and outdoors.
3. Public Transportation – Use it!
DON’T bother with a rental car. Parking is almost non-existent and is very expensive. Utilize the public transport and save yourself a lot of headaches. Make sure you plan for extra waiting time for the Monorail and pre-plot your routes before going traveling to the show.
Here are a few public transportation options:
Monorail – Save yourself a ton of aggravation and time by taking the Monorail directly to the SEMA show. There are terminals located throughout the strip, all of which can take you to the convention center and anywhere else along the strip.
There are a few options for tickets: Single ride passes, 24 hour passes and the three-day pass.
Taxis and Shuttles – A taxi is easy and straightforward and very expensive. Sometimes this is the most convenient way to travel, but there will always be traffic. Uber or LYFT can be an alternative, but also figure traffic as an issue.
The SEMA Show offers numerous complimentary shuttles.
Check the registration packet for the times and availability. They can change year to year.
4. SEMA Information Desks
These kiosks are placed throughout the SEMA show and have many services like ‘lost and found’, or locations of the ATM machines, shuttle schedules, etc.
5. Wear Comfy Shoes
It is important to look your best , BUT DON’T SACRIFICE YOUR FEET. Do yourself a favor and skip designer shoes in favor of more comfortable ones. I spent most of one year in the hotel room due to new boots. Worst experience yet and a costly one.
It’s important to look good, but many new SEMA visitors make the mistake of style over comfort. You are going to be walking for long periods of time and spending most of the day on your feet, it’s a good idea to have nice comfortable shoes that won’t punish you.
6. Plan Meetings Ahead of the Show
Veterans of the show will make plans and schedules well in advance. Respect your time and their time and reach out in advance. Most companies and individuals will have a major investment in the show. It is NOT a low budget event. We easily spent $16500 for our first show with the smallest booth in the furthest reaches of the show. Be thoughtful of other investors and value their time when approaching without an appointment.
You can use a show directory to plan your appointments and site seeing as well as to contact people in advance. You can use a previous show’s directory for contact information in advance, but make sure you have a current map for logistical efficiency and to save your feet. You can usually find real time directory on the website at https://www.semashow.com.
7. Protect Yourself
You will need your credentials to get in and while walking the show. Make sure you take them off and keep them in a safe place when you leave. Don’t advertise yourself as a tourist and attract the wrong attention.
We never felt unsafe, but there is always that possibility of trouble.
Stay as close to the conventions center as possible. When you are considering the cost, consider you may avoid public transportation expenses by being as close as possible to the show. You can get great rates by booking air and lodging together through your airines or book through the block rates with SEMA here.
Also look at after hours events and their locations, depending on what you want to attend. Don’t sacrifice the majority for the minority. If there is an after-hours event on one night, don’t put yourself in a far away hotel for that one night and sacrifice the ability to be close to all of the daily activities that will demand punctual arrival.
10. Health & Well-Being at SEMA
Needless to say, it is dry in the desert climate of Las Vegas. You’ll be spending large amounts of time on your feet, walking from one display and car to another. Make sure to bring water of your own and stay hydrated so that you don’t fall ill or become dehydrated. Here are a couple of side tips we learned ourselves and some shared from veterans of the show.
- Pack for Fall and Summer – Nights are chilly, jackets are a must
- Use tech to save yourself and others. Get an app that scans business cards and shares yours
- Don’t rely on the SEMA app. The reception can be spotty in different areas and you don’t want to be late because of a network issue
- Beware of Airport food and what you eat. Don’t ruin your trip with an ill timed case of food poisoning or potential food allergies. **I also have personal experience with this error. A not so innocent side of guacamole took me out for almost the whole show.
- Consider a fruit basket delivery. It’s worth the extra to avoid the high prices at the hotel and have a healthy snack on hand
- Pack some trail mix, cereal, etc. You may need a quick pick me up
- Fill the bathtub with hot, HOT, water every night before bed. This will give you additional moisture in the room and help you sleep better.
- Sit when you can!
- Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Your body and brain will thank you!
- Moisturize skin, carry chap stick and make sure you have plenty of breath mints for moisture and courtesy to others!!
- Above all, enjoy yourself and talk to strangers. (But do NOT run with scissors!