Revamped Layout, New Features Spotlight Dealer Expo 2008

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The Dealer Expo hits the Big Four Oh this year, but you won't find any middle-aged slowdown. Instead, you'll see some new software technology designed to make your show experience easier; a fairly major reorganization of the exhibit area so it's simpler to find new exhibitors and foriegn-based exhibitors; stepped-up training opportunities that feature certification programs from Dealership University; and an expanded seminar program led by Dealernews columnists.

Show Layout Changed. Show organizers have moved the international exhibitors (except for the Italians) into the RCA Dome. There attendees will find products from Canadian, Chinese, Pakistani, German, French, Taiwanese and other foreign manufacturers. The popular Italian pavilion remains in the Convention Center.

The exhibit halls in the Westin and Marriott hotels are being devoted to new exhibitor pavilions. These halls opened yesterday and will close Sunday evening. Close to 125 companies are exhibiting in these two areas, according to show manager Trevor Trumbo.

Personalized Floor Plans. Show management decided not to print a fold-out floor map this year, opting instead for a "Map Your Show" software program, available at the Information Counters and at www.dealerexpo.com, that allows you to 1) select the companies you wish to visit and then 2) print out a personalized floor plan that highlights the booths you need to visit.

Social Networking Site. MyDealerExpo is an online social network created exclusively for Dealer Expo that enables attendees to network with exhibitors, importers to network with distributors, and more. "A social networking site was the next logical step for Dealer Expo," says Trevor Trumbo, show manager. "The show is about bringing buyers and sellers together, and MyDealerExpo.com provides another way for our customers to connect."

Dealership University seminars. A new series of courses from Dealership University are being conducted on performance selling, how to handle discounters, and setting up a training program for dealer staff. Those attending yesterday's and today's courses have an opportunity to earn credits toward Dealership University's certification program. At the opening of the show, most if not all of these courses were sold out; however, check with Concierge Desk to see if there are any last-minute openings.

DealernewsLive! Seminars. Dealernews' expanded seminar program includes a new session on making dealership operations more efficient in a challenging retail market and a discussion on doing business with Chinese brands. No reservation is required to attend any Dealernews Live seminar. — Joe Delmont