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Int'l LCT Show Captures Industry Comeback, Vehicle Bonanza

Posted on February 12, 2014
The 2014 International LCT Show this weekend will bring 120 exhibitors, 84 vehicles, and more than 3,000 attendees together for buying, selling, trading, mingling, networking and partying, all under one big Vegas-style roof.

The 2014 International LCT Show this weekend will bring 120 exhibitors, 84 vehicles, and more than 3,000 attendees together for buying, selling, trading, mingling, networking and partying, all under one big Vegas-style roof.

The 2014 International LCT Show this weekend will bring 120 exhibitors, 84 vehicles, and more than 3,000 attendees together for buying, selling, trading, mingling, networking and partying, all under one big Vegas-style roof.
The 2014 International LCT Show this weekend will bring 120 exhibitors, 84 vehicles, and more than 3,000 attendees together for buying, selling, trading, mingling, networking and partying, all under one big Vegas-style roof.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Something wonderful must be happening out there in Limo Land, given the latest stats on the industry’s leading global trade show, set to begin Sunday, Feb. 16.

As of this week, pre-registrations are 17% more than the level recorded last year at this point in the pre-International LCT Show cycle. The 100,000-square-foot convention hall at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was sold out weeks ago. So far, 120 exhibitors and 84 chauffeured vehicles and buses will be jammed onto the floor for three days, Feb. 16-18. While precise projections are difficult to make at this point, attendance and vendor activity points to a Show that will bring a vibe more reminiscent of the pre-recession 2005-2007 ILCT Shows (more than 3,000 attendees each) than those held during the recession-challenged years of 2009-2011 (less than 3,000 attendees each).

This year’s Show follows closely the success of LCT Show East in Atlantic City, N.J. Oct. 26-28, 2013, the first year of LCT’s rebirth of the original limo trade show it launched there in 1984: 1,100 attendees instead of the projected 800. As LCT’s annual Fact Book and Industry Guide indicates, the number of operators, sales revenues and chauffeured business overall steadily increased from 2012 to 2013.

Those strong trend lines ensure that chauffeured and charter vehicles will once again be the stars of this year’s Show. Since the Lincoln Town Car sedan was retired in 2011, the chauffeured transportation industry has been presented with a historic high in the number, variety and styles of vehicle models. With a vehicle market in constant flux, operators are trying out and diversifying their fleets more than at any point in the 30-year organized history of the limousine industry.

The MGM Grand convention hall will be set up in the next few days for the global limousine industry's annual trade show, conference and networking event, commencing Sunday, Feb. 16. 
The MGM Grand convention hall will be set up in the next few days for the global limousine industry's annual trade show, conference and networking event, commencing Sunday, Feb. 16. 

Whereas the 2012 and 2013 Shows revolved around competing sedan successors to the venerable Town Car, this year we are seeing competition heating up in the SUV, van and bus niches. Among the “big story” vehicle highlights to watch for at this year’s Show:

  • Meridian Specialty Vehicles and Chrysler Group introduce the Chrysler/Ram ProMaster passenger van to the chauffeured transportation industry, bringing a direct competitor to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van and upending this niche.
  • Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles will once again bring a Ford Transit Connect van, set to become a competitor in the same luxury van market. Look for a three-way choice shaping up for the high-end chauffeured van sector among Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Ford. Related item: Livery dealer David Bastian interviews Ford’s Craig Hall on his Blog Talk radio show.
  • Cadillac Professional Vehicles returns with its redesigned, next-generation 2015 Cadillac Escalade, which debuted at the LCT Show East. The SUV market just got interesting in recent weeks as Lincoln announced a redesigned Navigator for the 2015 model year. Although a 2015 version is not available in time for the Show, limo operators will see head-to-head competition between Cadillac and Lincoln with their redesigned luxury SUV models.
  • Acton Fleet Sales/SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles debuts the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, and brings 2014 model year versions of the Cadillac XTS livery sedan, the Cadillac XTS-L stretched livery sedan, and the Chrysler 300 livery sedan.
  • Grech Motors Inc., one of the lead sponsors of the Show, has surged in its first full year in business, with some high-profile fleet orders and sales and a model line of sleek, advanced mini-buses that reflect the creative ingenuity and patented design successes of veteran limousine coachbuilder Ed Grech. Grech and his new sales executive, A.J. Thurber, will be on hand to showcase the latest innovations in their bus line-up.
  • Custom stretch limousine coachbuilders, such as L.A. Custom Coach Inc., will display a striking sample of unique, customized models that reflect increased foreign and domestic demand for one-off and bold stretch limousines. The custom stretch market has grown in the last three years, proving that the stretch is not dead.

Overall, when you connect the dots on all the micro- and niche vehicle trends shaping up in the limousine vehicle market, it points to a vigorous future for diverse group ground transportation, as operators embrace technology and new segments of clients in a gradually growing economy and corporate business travel sector. And to underscore the point: The stretch limo never died; it just morphed into dynamic custom stretches, high-end luxury vans, and all types and styles of mini-buses.

That’s just for vehicles. Now, on to the limo people.

No International LCT Show is complete without networking, as thousands of operators make new connections, maintain old ones, and angle for new business. Premium networking hotspots this year include (in scheduled order):

  • Fourth annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser for the National Limousine Association, Saturday, 7 p.m.
  • International Operators Meet & Greet, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. (Lots of coffee)
  • LCT Show 30th Anniversary Birthday Party, Sunday, 4:30 p.m. (show floor)
  • Smooth groove/low key club: Networking Party At Ling Ling at Hakkasan, Sunday, 9.p.m. to Midnight (Open bar)
  • High-energy club night: LCT Awards Celebration and Networking Party at Hakkasan Night Club and Restaurant, Monday, 7 p.m. to Midnight (Open bar)

COMPLETE SHOW SCHEDULE HERE

Of course, good things really can happen after midnight at limousine trade shows, so keep your ear out for private hospitality suite parties that keep networking circuits tingling long into the howling Vegas nights.

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Acton SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, Cadillac Professional Vehicles, Chrysler, custom limousines, custom stretches, Ford Transit Van, Grech Motors, ILCT 2014, LA Custom Coach, Las Vegas, limo tradeshows, Lincoln, Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles, Mercedes-Benz, Meridian Specialty Vehicles, networking, new vehicles, parties, Sprinter, tradeshow preparation

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