ARLINGTON, Texas –
Similar to how other organizations have had to do with their in-person events, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association is taking its annual showcase to the digital world.
According to an announcement distributed late on Friday, the 2020 NIADA|NABD Convention and Expo is going fully virtual.
Due to ongoing and recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, NIADA said its board of directors made the difficult decision to cancel its plans to meet in person at this year’s Convention and Expo at the Wynn Las Vegas and focus on delivering industry education virtually through its digital conference platform at www.niadaconvention.com.
The 2020 NIADA|NABD Virtual Convention and Expo Series will be held on three consecutive Tuesdays — Sept. 22, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 — and will include all the expert analysis, dealer panels, auto industry leaders and content independent dealers have come to expect throughout the NIADA Convention’s 74-year history.
“The decision was especially difficult because this will be the first year since NIADA was founded in 1946 that we have not had an in-person convention,” NIADA president Henry Mullinax said in a news release.
“Many factors played into this decision, beginning with protecting the health and safety of our attendees and the uncertainty around the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Mullinax continued. “There are simply too many variables at this time to guarantee a positive and healthy outcome of an in-person convention in September.”
Just as previous conventions, the association noted the NIADA|NABD Virtual Convention and Expo Series will include topics for retail dealers, buy-here, pay-here operators, wholesalers, auctions and allied industry partners.
NIADA highlighted the educational content will focus on how the used vehicle industry has changed and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in three crucial areas: cars, cash and customers.
The education tracks include vehicle acquisition and wholesale market changes, online retailing and contactless transactions, and cash, credit and financial markets.
In addition, NIADA mentioned the event will include a virtual expo hall that will be open during the entire span of the virtual convention, giving dealers 24-hour access for three full weeks to check out the industry’s top vendors — and a chance to schedule virtual appointments with them.
“NIADA wants our valued industry partners to continue the growing success they have come to expect with our annual Convention and Expo,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said.
Jordan added NIADA is partnering with its affiliated state associations to promote the event and its content and will be splitting the registration fees with each state that helps promote the platform, so dealers know their financial investment in ongoing education is supporting their state and local associations.
All of NIADA’s awards, including the National Quality Dealer award and the Ring of Honor, will be held over until the 2021 convention, which is scheduled for June at the Wynn Las Vegas.
“NIADA’s commitment to help independent dealers succeed has been at the heart of our association for 74 years,” Jordan said. “The first NIADA|NABD Virtual Convention and Expo Series is our way of honoring that commitment in the face of a global crisis.
“This has been a time of unprecedented change for all of us, and like everyone else, independent dealers have had to find new ways to make their operations work. In order to give them the tools they need to do that, we needed to find a new way to make our convention work,” Jordan went on to say.