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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — If you had to pick the defining event for the 2012 International LCT Show, starting Sunday, Feb. 12, it would be the trade floor vehicle displays from Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler.
The Detroit Big Three roll out new and refined next-generation livery models that will compete for the fleet affections of thousands of operators weighting important vehicle spending decisions in coming years. The Cadillac XTS, Lincoln MKT Town Car, and Chrysler 300 Limited complement a Show floor at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino full of the most chauffeured vehicle displays in at least four years and the most variety ever at a limousine trade show, including first-time exhibits by Hyundai, BMW, and Rolls-Royce. Limousine base vehicle displays will be rounded out by Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.
This year’s Show happens against the backdrop of an industry undergoing major transitions, not just in new fleet options and make-ups, but in adjustments to a slowly recovering economic landscape, a tougher regulatory environment, labor issues, pricing pressures on operators, the growing influence of online booking venues and mobile applications, and of course, all the drama of a divisive Presidential election year.
Many of these issues and challenges will be addressed in a conference schedule full of seminars, panels, road shows, and meetings, and will no doubt be bandied about informally during a constant array of hospitality suite parties, affiliate meetings, and association gatherings going on amid four days of scheduled events Sunday through Wednesday.
Add it all up, and for attendees it means a time of the year for very little sleep and a lot of talking. In addition to the business networking events, affiliate meets, and educational sessions, LCT Shows and conferences also serve as an informal but always blissful reunion for operators worldwide.
Preliminary figures as of Tuesday so far indicate an estimated 12% increase in Show attendance overall, a 41% increase in exhibitor-related attendees, and a 24% increase in the number of trade floor booth displays compared to the 2011 International LCT Show. The Show floor is sold out. The attendance percentage does not yet include the usual last-minute and onsite surge in attendee registrations, which number in the hundreds. If trends continue, the LCT Show could record its highest volume attendance and trade floor activity since the March 2008 International LCT Show — the last major industry event before the Great Recession entered its worst phase.