The Essential Tradeshow Checklist: 10 Pro Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your NADA Experience

This year, you’re going to crush it at NADA. You’re going to hit the convention floor like you mean it. You have an agenda. You’re going to attend seminars and eagerly listen to keynotes to learn about the state of the auto retail industry. You’re going to see new technologies and services from dozens of vendors and assess which products might make sense to employ at your dealership. And you’re going to network like your next meal depends on it.


Yes, this year, you’re going to OWN NADA.




Tradeshows can be great. There’s a ton of things to see, people to talk to, and fun to be had. But convention-going can be a challenging task, too. Tradeshows can mean a lot of time on your feet, meticulous planning, and boundless talking. It’s just part of the deal. And it’s all too common a mistake to forget to consider these factors when preparing for a convention. To make the most of NADA, you’re going to need to take care of yourself.


With this in mind, we’ve prepared some convention “best practices.” Whether you’re making your first trip to the big show, or you’re a seasoned expo veteran, here are 10 pro tips to help ensure that you keep it healthy and fun at the show so that you don’t leave NADA with nada:


#1. Wear comfortable shoes.

You may have spent a small fortune on a sharp pair of kicks, but, trust us, leave them at home if you can only stand to be in them for an hour or two. Home to NADA this year (and next, by the way), the Las Vegas Convention Center is gargantuan. (We heard the US Olympic long distance running team once considered using the space for its winter training facility). The Dealertrack/ booth alone (booth #1124C) is one of the event’s biggest, as is our client appreciation party. You’re going to be doing a healthy amount of walking and standing. For shoes at the show, think comfort. You can thank us later.


#2. Have water with you, and drink plenty of it.

Las Vegas isn’t particularly high at an elevation of 2,000 feet, but it is dry, thanks to the 10,000 foot mountains surrounding it that do a solid job of preventing moisture from flowing into the city. And, geographically, it’s part of the Mojave Desert. So drink water. Lots of it. And do so before you feel thirsty. Bring your own bottle and refill it throughout the day. Not only will this help keep you going, but it’ll reduce the potential of objectionable dry mouth tongue noises as you converse with other show attendees.


#3. Hand sanitizer is your best friend.

Did we mention handshaking? Oh, the hands you will shake! It’s an essential business custom. Unfortunately, it’s a dirty one, too. Keep yourself clean and the germs at bay with a bottle of hand sanitizer at the ready. Use it frequently. Come home healthy.


#4. Save your feet; use the shuttles.

Optimize your transportation to and from the convention, the hotel, the dinners, the parties, and the airport by using shuttles. NADA is providing complimentary shuttle service to and from the convention center, official NADA hotels, and other select places around the city. We can’t stress the convenience of this service, and strongly encourage attendees to use it. Super Pro Tip: have cash on hand to tip your airport shuttle driver.


#5. Make sure your phone is charged.

We’ve all been there, thwarted by technology’s endless thirst for power at the very moment we needed the device most. The phone died just as you were about to send that email with the attachment your GM needed by the end of the business day, or went radio silent as you were in the middle of that critical conference call with your team. Not good. Avoid these moments by making sure your phone is 100% charged at the beginning of each show day. Bring a charger with you to give your phone a midday boost, and if you’re a heavy mobile user, consider investing in a portable battery. Your phone will keep you digitally connected to the event at all times by using #NADA2016 on social media. Power is required.


#6. Bring your own food.

Conventions are like a box of chocolates: you never know what (kind of food) you’re going to get. The food served at conventions typically isn’t very good, or very good for you. Remember, you are a tradeshow machine. You need to fuel up properly to do your best work. Bring your own lunch – one that doesn’t require heating or cooking – along with a handful of healthy snacks and/or energy bars to keep you going strong.


#7. Save room for swag. Bring a bag.

Vendors are going to be coming at you with swag. You have two options: one, politely decline the keychains, lanyards, stickers, water bottles, drink koozies, matchbox cars, USB drives, t-shirts, posters, and pens; or, two, place all items in the convenient tote bag you brought with you for easy swag portability. ( and Dealertrack will have some sweet giveaways!) With the bag securely swung over your shoulder, you’ll be hands-free to operate your fully-charged mobile device or to reach for your hand sanitizer.


#8. Red Rock Canyon is pretty cool, and is a short drive away.

If you’ve rented a car, have some time, and would appreciate some natural beauty and a change of pace, make the short trip over to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located 17 miles west of the strip. There, you can hike, picnic, or just go for the 13-mile scenic drive through the park itself. Remember, you’re in the desert. There’s a lot of beautiful things to see in the Mojave.


#9. Don’t be bashful. Take advantage of this opportunity.

More dealers, vendors, technology experts, and retail strategists come to NADA than any other automotive retail event. Take advantage of these resources. The knowledge, the inspiration, the technologies and services, the visions for the future of the industry – it’s intoxicating. Let it charge you and don’t be bashful. You’re here to learn, hear, and be heard. Your industry needs you. Get into it.


#10. It’s Vegas. Have fun!

Maybe this is your only trip away from home in 2016. Maybe you’ve been to Vegas three times this year already. Or maybe you’re a dealer in the area who gets to sleep in his or her own bed. Whatever the case may be, between March 31-April 3, Las Vegas IS the automotive retail industry. Have fun with your industry by taking advantage of all that Las Vegas has to offer. At the end of the day, relax with colleagues and friends both new and old, go to the parties, and have fun. Treat yourself. It’s NADA in Vegas, baby!