The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW), commonly known as the SEMA show, or SEMA, is a trade-only event that draws some 70,000 domestic and international car buyers to Las Vegas each year. As the event is labeled as “trade-only,” you may be a bit confused by who can attend this prestigious gathering. Can anyone go to SEMA?
SEMA is not open to consumers or the general public. Only qualified individuals within the automotive aftermarket industry are approved to receive a badge for entrance to the event.
This year’s SEMA is scheduled for November 2-5, 2021, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. While SEMA is not a particularly easy event for just anyone to attend, the following breakdown will cover how to get into SEMA and discuss the special SEMA Friday Experience ticket that is being offered for 2021 only.
SEMA, organized by the Special Equipment Market Association, is a trade-only show. This means that individuals must show that they are employed with an approved automotive aftermarket business to get an access badge. No consumers or general public guests are typically allowed into the event.
Although it sounds exclusive, it is not particularly difficult to meet the requirements of an approved automotive aftermarket business employee. Any of the following positions may qualify you for an access badge to SEMA:
- Wholesale distributor (WD)
- Company principle
- Product manager
- Manufacturer’s rep
- Manufacturer’s rep agency
A comprehensive list of participating manufacturers can be found here, so employees associated with one of these companies are likely to be approved for a SEMA badge.
Typically, there are one of three ways to get into SEMA: as an attendee, an exhibitor, or via a media credential.
As mentioned, SEMA attendees must be employed in the automotive aftermarket industry, with the section mentioned above giving insight on how to qualify in this niche.
Once you have determined that you meet these qualifications, SEMA requires documentation to confirm your application. Any of the following items may be required for verification:
- Business card, complete with your job title and address that corresponds to the one you furnished on your application
- Business license
- Tax registration certificate or business registration
- Recent paycheck stub
- Business photo ID, complete with the company name
To qualify as a SEMA exhibitor, your company must meet the same qualifications as an attendee. However, exhibitors must purchase space to show and/or demonstrate their products.
This link can walk companies through the process of buying a booth. In addition, SEMA releases an exhibitor brochure to help businesses with the process of becoming an exhibitor, as well as provide statistics and information on how exhibitor status has the potential to increase sales.
If you do not qualify as an automotive aftermarket employee but work in an industry that covers the business, it is possible that you may qualify for a media credential to attend the event. In addition to traditional media outlets, bloggers, influencers, and other forms of new media are encouraged to apply for a credential.
When applying for a media credential, two general requirements must be met for an application to be considered:
- The applicant must verify that the company is an editorial/media body that covers the SEMA industry, its members, or its products.
- The applicant must verify that they are associated with the qualifying outlet.
Breaking from tradition, the 2021 SEMA will offer a limited amount of general public tickets to view the exhibits on Friday, November 5th. These tickets must be purchased before the event and are selling for $90 each. Referred to as “SEMA Friday Experience,” there is no indication on whether this limited general-public access will continue for future shows.
SEMA is a trade-only exhibit for professionals in the automotive aftermarket industry, meaning that there are no access badges issued to consumers or the general public. Those that can prove their affiliation in the industry have the option to attend as an attendee, exhibitor, or media personnel.
However, for 2021 only, a limited number of tickets are being sold to the public as the SEMA Friday Experience to view the exhibits on Friday, November 5th, so if you work outside of the industry but have always dreamed of going to SEMA, check their website while supplies last!