Congratulations on making the right choice to attend SEMA 2016 in Fabulous Las Vegas. You’re going to have a blast, and to help you maximize your stay, we’ve put together a list of ideas to help you do SEMA the right way.
1. First things first… find a hotel off the Strip
While you might be tempted to stay in one of the more luxurious or establishment hotels along the famous Las Vegas Strip, there are dozens off clean and super-affordable rooms available nearby. Many of them are within walking distance to the major hotels (if twenty minutes of walking doesn’t bother you) or a short Uber/taxi ride over. Check out available rooms along Tropicana Ave, Paradise Rd and Flamingo Rd, in particular. You’ll save a LOT, which you’ll get to spend in the restaurants we’re going to recommend further down the list. You’ll be glad you did.
If you insist that money isn’t an issue, and you want to be in the heart of the action, pick any hotel that looks fun to you and stay there. Vegas owners are master marketers in representing each hotel as a unique experience, but honestly, they’re all kind of the same thing with different colored wallpaper and upholstery. The Cosmopolitan dresses with a more youthful swagger than Caesar’s Palace, but they’re both top-notch in terms of entertainment value. The Encore and Wynn have earned a reputation as the classiest joints in Vegas (for a price), but neither will comp your drinks at the bar, even if you gamble, thanks to a policy set forth by legendary fun-killer Steve Wynn himself.
If you’re really not sure where to stay or want to try a new experience, sleep off the Strip and play Downtown. You’ll have more fun, save money and probably eat better, too (if you follow our advice).
2. Be smart about lunch
This is actually kind of tricky. When you go to a big convention like SEMA, it’s hard to get a good deal on food. Exhibitors are charged up to $260 for convention-catered sandwiches and chips (12 lunches total) or around $25 for individual lunches. So, there’s that. If you’re in a booth, there’s probably not much you can do unless you leave your booth. (Not really an option, though, is it?)
Attendees might have a harder time finding food, but if you avoid the peak lunch hours, this link will show you a number of eateries that hopefully won’t be too packed. But hey, you’re going to SEMA. Embrace the crowd element. Have a beer. If you look at that list from above, you’ll notice a few pricier options mixed in with the deli/sandwich spots. We recommend avoiding the high-end steakhouses until the evening. We also suggest taking an hour for lunch each day, if you can. It’ll help keep you fresh and motivated for the long but exciting week ahead.
3. Wear proper footwear
SEMA is huge. There will be over 140,000 industry professionals in town this year, and you can expect a lot of walking to get around. Just about everybody who’s ever been says the most important thing you can do to enjoy SEMA is wear comfortable shoes.
You might also consider a backpack full of snacks, water, sunblock, a phone charger and whatever else you think you might save you a trip back to the room. Still, pack light.
4. See as many New Products as you can
Now that we’ve covered sleep, food and shoes, let’s get to the car stuff. Whether you’re a newcomer or longtime SEMA aficionado, the New Products Showcase is your chance to see the latest auto tech before anyone else. There are a lot of invigorating products unveiling this year, including a device that turns your mobile phone into a voltmeter, a V12 boutique engine that’s the size of a V8, specialty power tools, luxury wheels, performance tires, etc. Spend a day or two exploring the latest and greatest auto tech and gear, and you’re sure to fall in love with cars all over again.
Speaking of love, SEMA has one amazing feature for its new products that seems to have been inspired by wedding registries. Basically, attendees will have a scanner they’ll take with them around the floor. When you see a product you like, simply scan it. When you’re all done, take your scanner to a desk, and a SEMA representative will connect your scanner to a printer and provide you with a hard copy of every product you scanned, as well as company contact information to help you get in touch with the makers of each product you want to order or learn more about. It’s little things like this that make a huge difference in the experience, and you’ll see why so many thousands of industry insiders return to SEMA year after year.
5. Visit a ton of returning and featured exhibitions
Many of the big names out there are returning for a reason: they’re wildly successful among customers and continue to update and upgrade their products. QuickJack falls into this category, and we will be prominently featured with not just one, but two booths! One will be at indoor booth 16621 and the other at outdoor booth 61007. We’re very, very excited to announce that QuickJack has a huge surprise in store for attendees who make it to our outdoor exhibit, so we encourage everyone to take advantage of this exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Best of all, we will be offering a time-sensitive discount on all QuickJack purchases, available exclusively to SEMA attendees.
Spread the word!
There are, of course, hundreds of other booths to visit, and you should check out this complete list of exhibitors and see what interests you. You’ll find everything from car-safe pet beds to new-and-improved deodorizing vent clips. Floor jacks, car lifts and other techy innovations ranging from cute to absurd to awe-inspiring will all be there.
6. Attend special events and educational sessions
To get the most out of your visit, it’s wise to incorporate a few informative sessions into your schedule. We recommend at least one per day. It’s great to walk around and see what there is to see (because there’s a lot to see), but that can get a little repetitive and tiring over the course of four full days. Get off your feet and engage with industry experts. There are so many sessions to choose from, the best thing you can do is check them out for yourself. Each session is held by an expert in their field, and this is the best way to surround yourself with like-minded individuals in your field.
7. Gorge on two nice dinners (and a buffet)
If you’re going to do some spending, you’ll have a more memorable experience if you spend on food rather than lodgings. Lucky for you, Vegas is the land of fine dining. There’s also an In-N-Out Burger right on the strip. If you’ve never had that before and want to see what the hype is all about, prepare to be mildly disappointed.
Since you’re not necessarily at SEMA to “party,” you probably want to get the most out of your precious downtime by traveling as little as possible. Caesar’s Palace is a great central hub for that: MESA Grill and Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill are both can’t-go-wrong options. (Don’t poo-poo the foie gras until you try it.) If you can make it Downtown, there’s arguably no better deal in Vegas than Hugo’s Cellar, located in the Four Queens Hotel. Grocery options are also available if you want to keep things on the cheap, but if you really want to do it right, close your eyes, pick a direction and keep walking until you come across one of any hundred-or-so famous all-you-can-eat Vegas buffets. They’re literally everywhere and it’s hard to choose wrong. The Bellagio offers the most famous of them all, arguably, but you do you.