Shows, Events, Costs, and Loyalties

Jim Luff
Posted on July 10, 2019
LCT sets the bar for trade show crowds at its annual event in Las Vegas. (LCT photo)

LCT sets the bar for trade show crowds at its annual event in Las Vegas. (LCT photo)

Once upon a time back in 1994, I attended my very first LCT trade show in fabulous Las Vegas. It was the ninth time LCT had produced the Vegas show. It was before the show became known as the International LCT (ILCT) Show in 2000.

The “I” was added as a nod to the growing number of operators who started coming from Argentina, France, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Belgium, and beyond. In fact, the ILCT Show would soon attract people from more than 35 countries. They make the annual trek to the Show because it was (and is) the largest show floor of livery products on the planet.

Since I joined the industry in 1990, the LCT Show has always been held in the first quarter of the year. The now defunct Limousine Digest Show was always held in the fourth quarter in Atlantic City. It should be noted the very first limo show was held in Atlantic City in December 1984 and organized by LCT Magazine, since the National Limousine Association was not founded until 1985.

The two-shows-a-year schedule was easy on the budget of operators and exhibitors alike. You could save money in advance and plan to attend. The Digest Show was a much smaller show than LCT, but served a purpose of meeting the needs of the East Coast operators without the need to travel cross-country. You didn’t see a lot of West Coast operators at the Digest show except larger companies looking for new affiliates. It was a much simpler time. LCT started an Eastern Conference in Connecticut in 2005-2009, but closed it in 2010 due to the Great Recession. When Limo Digest closed out its Atlantic City show after 2012, LCT filled the gap with a new LCT East Show starting in 2013 to continue the easy, affordable Atlantic City limo show tradition.

Depending upon who you ask, there is either oversaturation or an abundant supply of livery industry events. There are multiple shows, summits, retreats, focus groups, and educational sessions. I recently attended the Arizona Limousine Association’s Educational Summit and watched some fantastic speakers. I have been a facilitator for a group of operators who meet several times a year in various places. Former operators are popping up and presenting themselves as experts in marketing or sales and hosting their own fly-in events. It’s enough to make you wonder who has time to run their business when they are trying to attend every industry event, meeting, and summit. The industry collectively grumbles about razor-thin profit margins, yet we are racking up more airline miles and hotel points than ever before.

There was a time when the annual Greater California Livery Association holiday party was a simple celebration among California operators like me. Today, the annual event pulls in operators and vendors from across the nation. There are dozens of other annual fundraising events held by the New England, Illinois, Greater Atlanta, and New Jersey associations that create a major drain on the pocketbook. All of these events cost money. Not just for operators, but for the vendors who serve the industry. There are costs to them for promotional giveaway items, sponsorship fees, shipping fees, and travel expenses.

As I travel around the country to various industry events, I see the same people all the time at these events located way out of their service areas. Is it loyalty or is it FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that makes them take this time away from operating their business?

The options offered today have far surpassed the ones that were available when I entered this business three decades ago. It is indeed a much different time where loyalty is being tested. Since the NLA announced a trade show following LCT's in Las Vegas in February 2020, cliques are forming with this camp versus that camp and stabs are being taken. Instead, we should have unity in our community that would help all of us to grow and thrive. I am deeply saddened by the divisions and lines being drawn in the sand as opposed to a spirit of cooperation in scheduling industry events.

As mentioned, the ILCT Show has taken place around the same time each year for the past 33 years. Operators and vendors alike must now decide how much money to invest in shows in the first quarter of 2020. Should you go home for the four-day gap between two major shows, or just make it an 11-day Las Vegas trip? I suppose it all depends on the level of your bank account and the FOMO factor.

Related Topics: history of the limo industry, ILCT, industry events, Jim Luff, LCT blog, LCT Events, limo tradeshows

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
Comments ( 4 )
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  • Jim Luff

     | about 2 months ago

    Thank you for the kind comments and feedback folks. We love it. John, may I ask how long you have been in the business? We may be able to offer you a scholarship if you are fairly new in the business. As a former operator myself, I know what a struggle it was to scrape up the money to attend AND find someone to run the business while I was gone. I'm very sympathetic to your concerns. Special note to Ken....Your comments inspire us!

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