This past week in Las Vegas, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) became the largest automotive gathering on the planet thanks in part to the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. The Alliance became what is believed to be the first program group to ever the hold its convention in conjunction with the AAPEX and SEMA shows that make up AAIW. Dubbed the Aftermarket Jackpot, the Alliance’s triennial event drew more than 3,800 people from Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper stores and shops.
A large number of them would not have come to AAIW without the Alliance convention that helped AAIW reestablished itself as the largest automotive show on earth, according to Alliance President and CEO John Washbish. “Holding our convention jointly with AAIW was a gamble that paid off in spades,” said Washbish. “Being able to attend two major events in one week made it viable for hundreds of our stores and shops to participate. We had a phenomenal overall turn out and a tremendous event, with three days of education, networking, camaraderie and fun.”
Attendees spent a day each at the AAPEX and SEMA shows engaged in prescheduled educational and training sessions with more than 80 participating manufacturer suppliers. As they learned more about products and support programs, the suppliers picked up insights on real life in the shops. Attendees also had the option to attend myriad seminars and exhibits of their choice on all things automotive. In addition, the Alliance provided specifically tailored educational sessions created to help both shops and stores improve processes, efficiencies and profitability.
In what was literally the most “traffic stopping” highlight of the convention, more than 3,000 attendees formed a “foot parade” to cross the world famous Las Vegas Strip from the headquarters hotel, The Mirage, to the AAPEX show at the Sands Convention Expo. Members of the Las Vegas police department closed the Strip for about 15 minutes to enable convention goers to pass. The event even gained coverage on local news channels.
A television show called “Aftermarket Jackpot Live” was broadcast into the hotel rooms of attendees allowing them to keep up on scheduled events, developing news, interviews with industry luminaries and learn about products and services of suppliers while in the comfort of their room.
There was ample time for fun and excitement as well. Attendees were treated to lavish buffet dining events accompanied by classic Las Vegas shows. One night, funnyman Jon Reep entertained the assemblage with comedic stylings about his years as a garage mechanic before becoming a television star. Another night featured an old school Las Vegas variety show with jugglers, dancers, balancing acts, showgirls and impressionists, including performers impersonating the Rat Pack, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
As an added bonus, attendees could earn opportunities to win cash and one incredible grand prize by attending convention events and seminars. During the evening, drawings were held from tickets gathered by attending learning sessions. From those drawings, attendees took home more than $25,000 in cash and one lucky contestant won a vintage American muscle car. That vehicle, a 1969 Mustang Fastback was modified with a high-performance engine, transmission and suspension, by the editors of Hot Rod magazine and had been featured in a 2009 article.