Can you feel the buzz? Because the vibe at the 2021 CD/NLA Show on October 10-13 at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas was electric! A huge thank you to all of our attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and committees for making our first show in 18 months one of the most memorable—besting even our expectations!
As the first show since the pandemic, the positive energy on display in Dallas was off the charts. It’s been a long hiatus for all of us, and it was clear that the more than 650 industry professionals in attendance were ready for some face-to-face interaction with their friends and peers. From the session halls, to the show floor, to even the dance floor, the enthusiasm and engagement was palpable in every corner of the show. Even faced with overworked offices, flight cancelations, and the lingering effects of COVID, our industry stood up and represented. We can’t thank you enough for your support.
“I am so pleased with the amazing show we all experienced in Dallas last week. While many of us had moments of trepidation leading up to our first in-person event in months, the show was a great success. The NLA was happy to welcome 21 new members to the association at the show and we are greatly looking forward to getting to work and gearing up for an even bigger and better show in Las Vegas early next year,” said NLA President Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide.
With a jam-packed room during our kickoff session, Finding and Hiring Chauffeurs and Employees in Challenging Times, it was clear that our attendees were looking for timely solutions for current challenges, which is what the show’s education program is all about. The CD/NLA Show Education Committee (with thanks to Education Sponsor FASTTRAK Cloud and Coffee Sponsor Buffalo Limousine keeping attendees caffeinated) put together a slate of sessions that appealed to operators of all sizes and markets. Whether it was learning about retail opportunities, the pitfalls of micromanagement, or the advantages of yield management/dynamic pricing, our attendees took home some clear, actionable pieces of newfound knowledge for the emerging economic changes.
There are certain events at CD/NLA Shows that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, and this year was no different. On our opening day, the Operator Mentoring Program (sponsored by Volvo) was once again filled to capacity. Our pairing of an industry veteran with a savvy NextGen operator to lead a conversation created interesting and candid dialogue among their groups. Similarly popular was our Affiliate Central Global Partner Forum (also sponsored by Volvo), which featured wall-to-wall networking among operators looking to gain new partners and expand their business network. And speaking of packed houses, our State of the Industry, moderated by Weiss, provided unique perspectives from six whip-smart operators of varied sizes and years in the business. The event was very well-received and garnered some real social media fanfare.
“It was extremely rewarding and gratifying to see everyone together again for the first time in over 18 months [since Vegas 2020],” says CD President Chris Weiss. “Based on all the smiling faces, big hugs, and nonstop conversation, this show was a huge success and just what the industry needed. People were just happy to be at a show after such a long time, and it showed.”
However, the positive vibes extended way past our session rooms; there was a visible climate of commerce on our show floor as operators were actively buying vehicles, technology, and services as they got a taste of the latest products from the more than 60 vendors who were present. For operators looking to replenish their fleet, the show floor presented the perfect opportunity with OEM exhibitors Cadillac, Volvo, BMW, and, of course, Ford-Lincoln on hand to supply the newest models geared for our industry. It was clear that being on an active show floor for the first time in a year and a half sparked the urge to shake hands and close deals.
And of course, our nighttime networking events kept the energy high long after the show floor closed. This year, we looked within our industry to supply the entertainment, and man, are we surrounded by some hidden talent! Our Sunday night opening party (sponsored by Chosen Payments) featured live rock and roll and country, courtesy of Sound Judgment, a band that features none other than regulatory guru Matt Daus of Windels Marx on lead guitar. Then on Monday, we turned the hall into Club CD/NLA, with dance beats provided by DJ Claude (aka Claude Cristea of Williamsburg Chauffeur Service)—with thanks to AJL International, ECS Transportation Group, and Premier Transportation of Dallas for sponsoring. Both parties raised the roof of the Gaylord Texan as attendees networked and danced late into the night.
Based on the post-show feedback we’ve received—not to mention reactions seen on social media—the excitement will surely continue as we build toward the CD/NLA Vegas Show this March 27-30 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. It’s evident that our industry is more than ready to return to normal, and we can’t wait to share this event with the global transportation community.
Stay tuned for more details about the show in Vegas this March, and don’t forget to check out our post-show wrap-up (with tons of photos!) in the November issue of CD.