ATLANTA – The numbers are not all in yet, but given preliminary figures and his own expert sense of how shows go, one of the organizers of the North American Commercial Vehicle Show was ready to declare it a solid success at the end of the third of its four-day inaugural run here at the Georgia World Congress Center, despite some exhibitor comments about light attendance.
In a Sept. 27 interview with HDT, Larry Turner, president and CEO of Chicago-based Hannover Fairs USA, said that he “wasn’t surprised” that the show floor seemed “settled down” by that mid-afternoon. He attributed that to the “ebb and flow” of attendees into different areas of the exhibit hall. “There are a lot of folks concentrated in some of the larger booths, including where cafes are set up, and that impacts the flow of attendees and the look of the show floor.”
While show management won’t release its final attendance figures until next Monday, Turner said that they’re looking to come in at around 10,000 attendees. “That’s not including roughly 5,000 exhibitor personnel and 243 members of the media.” He noted that some 20% of the attendees have been “walk-up registrations, including more today,” which suggests word of the new show is still getting out.
On Monday, which was open only to VIP guests of exhibitors and the media, "we had very good meetings, and today as well," Berend Bracht, president and CEO at Bendix, told HDT Tuesday, the first day the show floor was open to all attendees. "The foot traffic at the show seems to be a little low, but the people that are coming are the right people, the decision makers, technically very competent people, so it has been good that way. And of course we are here to support our OEs."
Turner pointed out that the NACV Show was “never intended for 50,000 people.” He said it is “not open to the public.” Rather, its primary registration effort was focused on attracting attendees who “own five or more trucks, with [individual] owner-operators welcome as well. The vast majority of attendees are from private and public fleets. We were not looking to compete with the Mid-America Trucking Show,” he added. “They have their [own niche], and we think we can coexist.”
He also said that registration had been helped by enabling exhibitors to invite their customers for either the Sept. 25 “VIP Day” or for another day at the show. Over 60% of the exhibitors invited customers, according to Turner.
“There are also industry suppliers in attendance,” he pointed out, “including some who are here to evaluate the show [for when it returns in two years]." As Bendix's Bracht also noted, Turner said the show offers “a secondary audience” in that there is “a dynamic among suppliers here, as occurs at IAA [the mega truck show held biennially in Hannover, Germany]. That is, smaller suppliers are interacting with the Tier One suppliers and OEMs” on the show floor.
Speaking of that space, Turner said the exhibition’s 365,000 square feet of net exhibition space was sold out for this first edition. For its 2019 return, the organizers will “probably contract for a second hall here, so we can grow exhibit space by 30 to 40%.”
He added that the show organizers have been “happy with the decision to hold it here in Atlanta since our first site visit two years ago. We liked the facility and its room for expansion and we liked the [nearby] downtown hotels and their attractive rates.”
As for feedback, Turners said it’s been “positive from almost all the exhibitors. They have commented they like that we achieved our intent of making it easy for fleet attendees to get with their suppliers” in spacious booths. "And we’ve heard from exhibitors and attendees that they can take their time — by not fighting crowds — to stop and spend time with exhibitors. Some attendees said they came because they could see all the major suppliers were here.”
One large truckload fleet maintenance exec at the show told HDT that the show was "superb on technology." He appreciated the focus of many exhibitors on connectivity and predictive technologies. "This is what we need today to help with driver turnover and mitigate costly time wastes in a driver's clock," he said. "It also helps me as a maintenance executive to move to less costly planned maintenance events. Those first to technology that works, will win." And it seemed that he felt this show's focus on tech would help attendees do that.
The show is managed jointly through the North American Commercial Vehicle Show Partnership formed by Hannover Fairs USA, a subsidiary of German trade show operator Deutsche Messe, and Newcom Business Media, organizer of the Canadian-based Truck World and ExpoCam trade shows.
The NACV Show is slated to return to Atlanta for its second outing from Oct. 28 to 31, 2019. It’s being held in alternating years from the Deutsche Messe-hosted IAA Commercial Vehicles show that's held in Hannover, Germany, during “even years.”
Deborah Lockridge contributed to this story. Revised 10 a.m. EDT Sept. 28 to add comments from exhibitors and attendees and additional photos.