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CEO DATELINE – Las Vegas trade show draws more than 100,000 attendees

Nov. 12, 2021
By Kathryn Walson

In a positive sign for associations that count on in-person events, the Specialty Equipment Market Association announced Thursday that its annual SEMA Show drew more than 100,000 attendees, exhibitors and media to Las Vegas earlier this month. It was the largest North American automotive trade show since the pandemic shut everything down in March 2020, according to a SEMA statement. 

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“The industry was clearly excited to be back in-person at the SEMA Show, both to capture business opportunities and to network and celebrate the world’s greatest collection of innovation on wheels,” SEMA CEO Chris Kersting said in the statement. “Our industry was waiting to reconnect, and the SEMA Show was a welcome homecoming after nearly two years apart.”

The SEMA Show, which was held Nov. 2-5, was the first full-facility event at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which includes 4.6 million square feet of convention space and an additional 2.2 million square feet of outdoor space, according to SEMA. The convention center’s new West Hall gave attendees more room to spread out; 30% of the SEMA Show was held outdoors.

SEMA Show attendees were expected to wear face masks indoors but were not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Turnout for the automotive show is potentially good news for other groups with very large shows planned for Las Vegas. The Consumer Technology Association will host CES 2022 in early January. More than 170,000 people attended the show in January 2020. The National Association of Broadcasters is planning its show for April; the 2019 NAB Show had more than 90,000 attendees.

SEMA Show highlights included Comedian Jay Leno helping to unveil a 1969 Ford Mustang restoration for singer Keith Urban in the Ford exhibit. A new area inside the SEMA Show, SEMA Electrified, showcased electric vehicles.

SEMA is based outside Los Angeles.