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The Western Carwash Association’s (WCA) 31st Annual Convention & Tradeshow is just weeks away, and this year’s show is looking to be even larger than last year's. I recently spoke with Ross Hutchings, executive director of the WCA to find out more about this year’s schedule, venues and theme.
The show will take place Sept. 18–20, 2012, at the San Diego Convention Center. According to Hutchings, it is the longest running carwash show in the country (longer than the International Carwash Assocation's™ The Car Wash Show™) and the largest of the regional shows.
“This will be our second year in San Diego. Our format will include a New Car Wash Investor Seminar the day before the show officially begins and the first day of vendor set-up, on September 17,” Hutchings said. “This will be for a separate charge of $199.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., and again on Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon, will be the times for educational sessions. “The tradeshow will open on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 4 p.m.–6 p.m., followed by our 'Party by the Bay' reception for vendors and attendees on the deck overlooking beautiful San Diego Harbor at sunset,” Hutchings revealed.The tradeshow will then open again on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from noon – 6 p.m. and again on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. THere will also be an awards presentation, WCA membership meeting and industry update on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m.–10 a.m.
. “Our pricing is geared to be affordable for everyone – $149 for All Access (all three days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), $99 for Wednesday and Thursday and only $25 to attend the tradeshow only,” Hutchings said. “And if you are a member of WCA you can get two in for the price of one (buy-one-get-one). In addition, members will receive the Car Wash Employee Manual, written specifically for carwash owners for all 12 Western states.”
According to Hutchings, last year they had 1,382 attendees which represented an increase of 31 percent in overall attendance over 2010.
“In addition,” Hutchings added, “81 percent of the total attendees were owners/CEOs which represented an increase of more than 51 percent from 2010. We are once again expecting an attendance of 1,400+ with the same percentage of buyers (over 80 percent).”
In terms of attendee feedback, Hutchings said that of those who attended last year, more than half rated the show as excellent or above average. Fifty nine percent of those attended, purchased new products and 21 percent placed orders for existing products.
“One of the strong points of the WCA show has been the ability of carwash operators to spend quality time with various vendors to understand products and best practices. In response to that we have formatted the show to take advantage of this,” said Hutchings. “For example, the opening two hours gives attendees an opportunity to get a good overview of the show so when they return they can find and focus on specific vendors. We begin the show later to allow for education and time for travel for the drive-in market.”
Hutchings said they arranged for four lounges with snack food to allow vendors and attendees to have a comfortable location to network and discuss issues of importance. “Our education has been modified to respond to suggestions by the attendees at offering more subjects. This year we will have more than 15 subjects for conveyor and 10+ subjects for self serve operators, to give more options for learning.”
This year’s The “Party by the Bay” is “building upon the successful opening reception from last year,” Hutchings added. “It will be held upstairs from the show to allow for easy access and is open to everyone. This popular event facilitates the networking opportunities for both vendors and attendees in a beautiful casual setting.”