Any normal October would see members of the Canadian collision sector working hard to complete any last-minute SEMA Show plans. Plane tickets would be purchased, plans all set in place and products stowed away for travel to the bright lights of Las Vegas.
2020, however, is no normal year.
While the 2020 SEMA Show has not been wiped from the slate, this year’s event will look a little bit different. The usual crowds that line up outside the Las Vegas Convention Centre during SEMA week will be all but a memory of show’s past, for this year’s event—along with the Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo (AAPEX)—will be held entirely online.
Due to our current global situation, virtual events have taken the industry by storm. In response, many industry stakeholders are asking themselves what benefits accompany attending these online shows. How will companies interact with booth visitors? How will products be purchased? Will the awe-inspiring demonstrations of years past be translated into this online format? Most of all—how do we network?!
Whatever question you may have, virtual show organizers have already considered. The International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) has held two virtual shows so far, chock-full of comprehensive sessions conducted by industry-leading companies from all corners of collision repair, and even include real-to-life spaces like an expo hall and networking rooms. The Canadian Collision Industry Forum will take on its own online event beginning October 9 and, according to its schedule, the two-day session will feature workshops in both French and English, a host of speakers from industry-leading companies and extensive opportunities for online networking via video chat and other platforms.
These virtual spaces may not be what we’re used to but, like we’ve been saying since March, these are unprecedented times— times that require unprecedented solutions to match.
If you are still unsure about your participation in the waves of virtual tradeshows, consider this; not once in the industry’s history have we seen this many tradeshows cancelled in a single year. By taking part in the first-ever wave of virtual events, you’ll be a part of history.
We have little indication of when crowd filled convention halls will be allowed to host the full-scale conferences and tradeshows the aftermarket holds dearly. What we do know, however, is that the members of Canada’s collision sector are as tight-knit as they come.
No matter the strictness of social distancing, it will never shake the bond within our industry. We will always find ways to connect.