The final count is in, and it shows the 2017 Convention, held June 12-15 at The Mirage in Las Vegas, edged the 2016 total for most attendees in the 71-year history of the event.
Overall attendance was up for the fifth consecutive year, and the number of dealers was also up from last year. And just as in 2016, nearly 20 percent of those attending the 2017 convention did so for the first time.
The reviews from attendees and exhibitors were overwhelmingly positive.
Among attendees who responded to NIADA's post-convention survey, 98 percent said they were satisfied with the event, 88 percent said the Convention met their objectives, 94 percent said the information presented was very useful, 98 percent said the speakers and panelists were very prepared and more than three-fourths gave the sessions "good" or "excellent" ratings.
In addition, 95 percent said they are likely to attend future NIADA events, 96 percent said they are likely to recommend NIADA events to others and 99 percent said they plan to engage with NIADA in the future.
"An awesome investment in my business," wrote Larry Schmidt of Countryside Auto and Cycle in Fond du Lac, WI. "Four days of industry-specific training along with trade vendors to improve my business – that's an investment every dealer should be making. I'll be back next year."
The 170-plus vendors and industry partners that exhibited in the 60,000-square foot Expo Hall also felt they got their money's worth – 84 percent of respondents to the exhibitor survey rated the value of their NIADA Convention experience "excellent" or "good."
Alvlis Tabaks of Elva DMS said his company exhibited at NIADA's event for the first time and "the experience we got there was beyond our expectations."
"The event structure was perfect and gave the right balance between the sessions and the Expo," he said. "So we managed to get useful information from industry experts and had enough time to interact with attendees at our booth."
The exhibitors gave the Convention a 90 percent overall satisfaction rating, while 95 percent approved of the level of decision-makers among the attendees and 90 percent said they are likely to be back to exhibit at the 2018 Convention and Expo – which will be held June 18-21 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., as NIADA's biggest event leaves Las Vegas for the first time since 2009.
Just as it surpassed its record-setting predecessor in attendance, the 2017 Convention topped the 2016 event with more sessions on more topics than any previous NIADA Convention. That included, for the first time, a dedicated area of focus on certified pre-owned, as well as sessions addressing retail, compliance and an even more extensive Buy Here-Pay Here component.
In addition to keynote speaker Captain Richard Phillips – inspiration for the hit movie "Captain Phillips" – the featured speakers included many of the top names in the used vehicle industry, beginning with NIADA's own Chuck Bonanno and Shaun Petersen. Others included leadership trainer Dave Anderson, TrueCar CEO Chip Perry, Cox Automotive's Janet Barnard, attorney Tom Hudson, KAR Auction Services chief economist Tom Kontos, FBI Special Agent Edward Parmalee, AutoZone's Ray Curry and NABD President Ken Shilson, among many others.