By Sara Callahan
While certainly not my first Digital Dealer, I was excited because it was in my own backyard at the beautiful convention center in downtown Tampa. In addition, I was curious to see what changes would be made by the conference’s new owners, Emerald Expositions. From the beginning, I could tell that some excellent process changes were in place, which allowed registration to go smoothly – a great start!
Prior to the exhibit hall opening on day one, attendees could easily have thought there was a concert going on or something, based on the massive numbers of people waiting to gain entrance. Once the doors to the exhibit hall opened, attendees flocked to vendors to scope out new and exciting technology and services. As I navigated the crowd, attempting to visit with clients, I saw vendors inundated with dealers and excellent booth traffic. It also seemed as if dealers were engaged and interested, rather than avoiding exhibitors as if they had the plague.
I was very pleased to see more fixed operations and F&I exhibitors at this Digital Dealer. Both of those revenue sources are quickly becoming more important to dealers and the diversity in product and service offerings in general throughout the exhibit hall was nice to see.
As for the agenda, it was great to see new speakers with fresh and new content for attendees. Of course, it was also nice to see some return speakers. Sitting in on sessions certainly helps me keep up with what’s going on in the industry and what the hot topics are. I also gain valuable knowledge that I can take back home to the benefit of my business and all my clients. At this latest show, I especially benefited from the dealer Q&A at the end of some sessions – there was some surprising and invaluable ideas and insight gained from this.
The keynote sessions were great as well. Imagine the feat of magic it took to get a panel that included Facebook, Google and Twitter, all sharing the same stage! Then Digital Dealer saw the return of Jim Ziegler which, by all accounts, was a big deal for everyone, as his session was packed with hundreds of attendees.
As attendees are constantly in motion at conferences, the layout was great with the exhibitors and keynotes upstairs and all breakout sessions downstairs. During the breakouts, it was my time to visit with clients, say hello to friends and do a little networking. Surprisingly, even then, it was difficult to speak with some of my contacts as dealers were still in the exhibit hall watching demos and interacting with exhibitors.
At the end of the day, despite my feet killing me, I felt that Digital Dealer 22 was a marvelous success. I accomplished a lot with my clients, learned a lot and felt personally enriched. The event seemed well attended and everyone I spoke with in the exhibit hall was very happy with the event, as well as the interactions they’d had with dealer attendees.
Digital Dealer22 was very well staged and run and my congratulations to Emerald Expositions, Melissa Green and the entire Digital Dealer staff on pulling off a spectacular event!