Many compare the COVID-19 pandemic to the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago. But while both viruses extracted a heavy toll on life and business, there is one major difference: The world of 1918-20 didn't have the internet.
The internet has been a major game-changer for how the world is handling today's pandemic and the accompanying restrictions to work activities and daily life — and to tire industry events.
All major in-person conventions and trade shows were canceled and/or converted to virtual events, such as the annual giant SEMA Show and AAPEX held concurrently in Las Vegas.
Some tire makers also converted their usual in-person tire introductions and dealer meetings to virtual events last year.
Some events, such as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, couldn't convert virtually. So the International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics — originally set to run July 24 to Aug. 9 — until July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021. This had a major impact on marketing for Bridgestone Corp., a longtime Olympic sponsor, which instead produced social media videos and posts from Olympic athletes, discussing how they are dealing with pandemic.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association canceled the annual National Tire Safety Week, scheduled for May 18-24, designed to help customers learn more about proper tire care and maintenance.
Here is a rundown of some of the major tire industry events that were impacted by the pandemic last year:
- The SEMA Show, hosted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which draws thousands of attendees from around the world to the Las Vegas Convention Center, continued planning an in-person event, with added health and safety precautions, up until three months before the event. In early August, organizers resigned themselves to the inevitable and canceled the in-person event and created an online marketplace, called SEMA360, for Nov. 2-6. The event created a virtual site for registered attendees to meet with participating suppliers and view online seminars and other events. The 2021 SEMA Show is slated for Nov. 2-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
- The Tire Industry Association (TIA) had to postpone its centennial celebration — originally scheduled during the 2020 SEMA Show — to this year's scheduled event. During the SEMA360 virtual programming, TIA broadcast via Zoom a number of events originally planned for the concurrent Global Tire Expo, including its annual membership meeting, Tire Industry Honors and educational sessions. Earlier in the year, TIA had to cancel its annual Lobby Day and Environmental Summit, slated for May 6-7 in Washington, D.C.
- AAPEX 2020, co-owned by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, converted to the "Virtual AAPEX Experience," held online Nov. 3-5. Like the SEMA360 event, the virtual AAPEX event allowed registered participants to virtually participate in technical and management training; view new product and equipment demos; and conduct business with suppliers during pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings. AAPEX 2021 is slated for Nov. 2-4 at the Sands Expo and Caesars Forum Conference Center in Las Vegas.
- Group Michelin canceled its Movin'On Summit scheduled for June 3-5 in Montreal. Instead, Michelin organized a series of digital presentations under its "Movin'On Summit 2020" banner to cover some of the topics originally scheduled for the three-day "sustainable mobility challenge" event.
- The Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA), the Equipment & Tool Institute (ETI) and the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) opted to hold their first joint meeting in 2021 as a replacement for the 2020 event, slated for May 5-6 in San Diego, that they had to cancel.
- The Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expo and the Latin Auto Parts Expo, which had been postponed to Nov. 17-20, 2020, from July, were postponed again, this time to July 13-16, 2021. Both shows will be held at the new Amador Convention Center in Panama City, Panama.
- The Mid-America Trucking Show canceled its 2020 event, scheduled for March 26-28 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Show organizers are still determining when to hold the show's 50th anniversary event, noting on the show's website that they are considering scheduling the next show in September or even in March 2022. A decision is expected to be announced in February.