Officials of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, now known as the Tire Association of North America, hit a home run by combining the group's convention and trade show with that of the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
Judging from the increased attendance compared to previous years and the enthusiastic comments expressed by show exhibitors and dealers alike, this year's Nov. 3-7 Las Vegas convention was an unqualified success.
Convention planners now must build on this year's achievement by seeking to maximize the benefits while minimizing or eliminating the few drawbacks associated with holding the dealer trade show as part of SEMA.
TANA and SEMA officials have every right to be proud of what they accomplished in the comparatively short time since the merger was announced a year ago.
However, since many dealers may have attended this year's event out of curiosity, the acid test as to whether or not showgoers and exhibitors find the merger with SEMA satisfactory may not come until the second or third year of the event—after the novelty wears off.
Before that happens, show organizers need to consider and deal with issues such as:
Making sure the tire dealer trade show is not forced to take a back seat to the glitz and glamour of the much larger SEMA contingent—particularly next year when TANA moves inside the Las Vegas Convention Center alongside SEMA;
Providing more opportunities for tire dealers to greet and interact with one another. One complaint heard at this year's convention was that it was more difficult to find and communicate with fellow dealers than in the past; and,
Improving dealer transportation from one Las Vegas convention location to another. Competing with tens of thousands of showgoers for bus or cab transportation often proved daunting to say the least.
Such criticisms not withstanding, TANA and SEMA convention planners deserve a hearty pat on the back for a splendid job done under difficult circumstances.