Jeremy Louisos talks with Martin Romjue, show chairman for the CAR Conference 2023, about the event, how it’s different from previous years, what to expect when you attend, and how to get most out of the show.
Jeremy Louisos: Hi, my name is Jeremy Louisos and I’m here today with Martin Romjue, Fleet Content Director at Bobit and show Chairman for the CAR Conference 2023. Our topic today is CAR Conference 2023, an event beginning March 28th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where consigners and auctions connect. Welcome, Martin.
Martin Romjue: Hi Jeremy, and thanks for having me. Good to be here.
What Can Attendees of CAR Conference 2023 Expect?
Jeremy: Yeah, well, I appreciate you jumping on. I’m sure you’re a busy person these days, getting ready, final moments before the show. I was really excited to talk to you. First topic here is, what can attendees of CAR conference 2023 look forward to at this year’s show?
Martin: Well, one of the first things they can look forward to is more attendees. We’re trending 20% ahead of where we were last year in this cycle. I think we’re seeing just a gradual pickup since the whole COVID fiasco. We’ve just noticed numbers going up for the last three years. You will definitely see some new faces. You will see more people from the diverse segments of the remarketing industry, and that means there’s a prime opportunity for networking and even reuniting. There might be some people there who were not there in ’21 and ’22.
Jeremy: That’s always one of my favorite parts, kind of the class reunion vibe at these shows. The thing I love most about CAR Conference is it’s really an intimate show. I mean, I’m glad to hear there’ll be more attendees over previous years, but I kind of like that it’s a smaller, more intimate show. I find that the conversations I have there are really quality, with some really top-level people.
What’s Different From Previous Years?
Aside from attendance, is there anything different this year from previous years?
Martin: Yeah, we’re experimenting with different formats. I mean, this is always a work in progress. In addition to the keynotes and the traditional panel discussions, we’re going to have workshops and some round tables that will engage the audience more. We really want people to be involved, and trying to get away from more of that classroom vibe where you just sit there and pay attention for 50 minutes. We certainly welcome audience questions as usual, but the workshops, the two that we have will be more problem solving. We had one last year and it was a big hit.
Then of course we’ll have what we call a giant round table. It’s almost like a talk show format where you have a moderator with some people on stage and some in the audience and they’ll pop up and just kind of get the conversation going.
Jeremy: I love the sound of that interactive experience. I think there are a lot of folks that are engaged in the content, and allowing them more avenues to connect with the presenters or the folks that are up on the stage. Then on the other side of that, I think the people that are on stage will benefit from getting that immediate responsive feedback. Maybe something spontaneous happens that we all learn from. I think that that certainly would add some excitement to the event.
The CAR Conference App & Networking
Martin: Yeah. We also have an app. That’s always an interactive opportunity. You can keep track of people and schedules throughout the event. The app is something that’s always improving. I was asked “if you had the CAR app before, can you use the previous one”? Clearly no, because you want to get the new one and re-download it and just get the latest and the greatest. That’s kind of an important part of the experience.
Just to add to the whole networking aspect and you saying it’s an intimate event, you can network anywhere. As anyone who attends these conferences knows, it can happen in the hallways, it can happen in the back of the session rooms, at the exhibit floor over meals. Guaranteed you will be running into most people who are attending the conference. It’s a great place to either build or cement business alliances, to connect with new clients, new business opportunities. Of course, there are always attendees who carve out their own business dinners in the evenings, which is why we don’t really schedule anything in the evenings. Because it is Las Vegas, you have tons of restaurants to choose from, and that’s also where a lot of the networking happens.
Jeremy: That’s great. You mentioned the app. For folks looking to download that app, where would be the best place for them to find it?
Martin: Just the usual places. The Apple and the… What’s the other one?
Jeremy: Apple and the Play Store for Google, I believe.
Martin: Yeah, yeah. That’s the best place to get them. You download something called Bobit Events and then you just choose Conference of Automotive and Marketing within that.
Jeremy: Perfect. Talking about some of these great speakers and great sessions, do you have any can’t-miss sessions? You might be in a position where that’s tough to pick a few among all of the great content, but are there any that for you personally, you’re like, “Hey, this is one that I really want to make sure I check out?”
Martin: Well, I really should say you can’t miss any of them because it is a complete conference and there is value in all of these sessions, and it’s a matter of just showing up. We do have places where there are choices of going from one thing or the other, but if I had to just pick five standouts that you definitely want to be at, it would be the keynote address on Wednesday morning the 29th. We have Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney from the US Air Force. He’s a real life Top Gun pilot, and now he’s also the CEO of Folds of Honor. He will no doubt be giving a very engaging presentation. There’ll be video, there’ll be effects, and he’s definitely going to get it off to a great start. His topic is “Fly into the Wind: How to Harness Faith and Fearlessness on Your Ascent to Greatness”. There are a lot of techniques and principles that the fighter pilots follow that can apply to the business world. That’s something you definitely want to be part of.
The other thing is, it’s one of the main anchors of the CAR conference, and it has been that way for years. It’s our annual economics and markets panel. As you can imagine, it’s highly relevant this year given everything that’s going on in the economy and in the wider markets. This year we’re going to have a fourth economist who’s appearing for the first time, which is John Coles from ACV Auctions. He’ll be joining the usual analysts, Jonathan Smoke, Alex Yurchenko and Tom Contos. This is a one hour session that is really going to go into how the post-pandemic economy is shaping up, and what everything from rising interest rates to inflation to supply chain constraints is going to mean for the remarketing industry.
Then the next day we have two general session panels. The first one is early in the morning, it’s geared towards consignors. In fact, we are bringing back my predecessor, Mike Antich, known as Mr. Fleet, who pretty much knows everyone and everything. He will be hosting a panel with some top executives from some of the leading consignors.
Then as a follow on to that in the early afternoon, Charlie Vogelheim, who’s the official MC of the event, will be hosting auction executives from three different companies. They will look at the state of the auctions. Just like with the consignors, we’ll really get into what are some of the most recent developments and how is it affecting the industry overall.
We’re also looking forward to the end of the conference because we have a closing keynote from JD Power, and they of course have always been a reliable source of all kinds of analysis and information. Their vice president, David Sargent is going to walk us through a global outlook and what we can expect for the future.
Those are kind of what I call the Big Five, but in between, I mean, I can take up two hours here and go through every single panel and session. We have the complete agenda now, fully updated at carconference.com, and you can click on that and also see who all the speakers are. We have all the photos up, and definitely a lot there to consume.
Bobit, IARA, and NAAA
Jeremy: Awesome. Martin, this show that Bobit puts on is kind of a combined event with IARA and NAAA. Can you maybe break that down for us, how that all works?
Martin: Yeah. The IARA and the NAAA are valuable. I mean, there are all kinds of terms, but they’re partners. They’re official partners at the conference and they definitely help out with the programming. In fact, the IARA is going to be hosting some interactive workshops on Tuesday. Because the conference officially starts Tuesday at 1:00, and these interactive workshops will be a good way to just warm things up. They’re, of course, constantly looking for feedback from industry members, so their top leaders will be there. Then that goes into the opening reception, which is hosted by them. Then they will have two panel discussions on Wednesday morning that kind of play off of the interactive workshops that they had in the afternoon.
The remarkable thing about the IARA is they of course bill themselves as the voice of the consignors, but they have grown into such a comprehensive group that you get people from all facets of remarketing – auctions, auto transporters, recon people, they’re all part of the IARA and they have really put out a professional menu of training and business development that attendees will definitely want to check out.
Of course they’ll have their booth, so as we always say, if you’re not an IARA member, this is the best place and the best time to learn about it and to sign up and to really get some good ROI on your career and also for your business.
Jeremy: Yeah, Martin, I would co-sign all that with IARA. As a subcommittee co-chair, I’ve found a lot of benefit. I mean, just learning about what’s going on in the industry. I mean, my neck of the woods is all auto logistics, so I’m learning tons about the entire remarketing landscape that I had never known, and working with some of the most talented people out there. Like I said, they’re all going to be out there at CAR conference. That makes this all the more powerful of an event to attend if you’re really trying to learn something.
Martin: In fact, I believe you’re going to be on a panel too, on, is it Wednesday morning or are you on Tuesday?
Jeremy: I will, yes. My committee, the Industry Advancement Committee will be talking on Tuesday and that’s open to the public. All those committee meetings, we really welcome people to jump in and join the conversation.
Then on Wednesday I’ll be joining… Tom Stewart’s hosting, but I’ll be there with Michele Pierog, John Mathiowetz and Doug Turner, and we’re going to be talking about how IARA is really making sure that our entire membership base going to be EV ready. It’s coming. We’re fielding a lot of questions about that, so we’re excited to share what we’ve found so far and inviting folks to kind of jump on that journey with us.
Martin: I also need to mention the NAAA will be doing State of the Industry when we kick things off on day two. They definitely have some good insights as to what’s going on. I call it the perfect winning combo for three organizations.
How Can People Get The Most Out of CAR Conference 2023?
Jeremy: That’s well said, Martin. With so much going on, we always like to end with this question. How can folks get the most out of this experience? Do you have any advice for those trying to see it and do at all?
Martin: First of all, show up. I mean, Vegas is a very distracting place, so you definitely want to show up, especially in the morning. There is a consignor’s only event 8:30 to 9:30 on Thursday morning, so for a lot of our attendees, that’s a must-do. I would say just to get to as many sessions as possible, to listen in. I noticed that it is possible to what I call hopscotch. You go into a session, you listen for 10 minutes, you see somebody you know, you go out to the concourse of the hallway, you network, you talk, you go back in, you hopscotch to another session. I think you pretty much understand the flow. While that might not be the most disciplined thing in terms of staying in a session the full time, it is a way to get the most out of it, to just keep circulating, keep moving, keep listening, and flag as many people as you can.
Of course the exhibit hall is an excellent place to take a break. We’re going to have food and beverage there. The exhibitors, I notice a lot of spontaneous conversations pop up when people are going to the exhibitors and they’re seeing people they know and they talk about the product and then they talk to each other. It’s not just about what’s being exhibited, it’s once again, organic conversations bubbling up and the exhibitors are kind of a way to spark that. That’s kind of it in a nutshell.
Jeremy: Martin, that’s great advice. That’s show up, that’s keep it moving, maybe even try the hopscotch method – I like that – then finally, I totally co-sign on this one, connect with the exhibitors. If you’re going to grab a meal or breakfast or lunch, whatever, make sure you talk to the exhibitors. I think that’s all great advice.
Well, thank you so much for bringing us through all that, Martin. For folks that are looking to connect with you at CAR Conference 2023, how can they do that?
Martin: Well, through the app and through carconference.com, and of course I’ll be on site. One of the things I find at these more intimate conferences is everyone is very accessible. There might be moments when people are running around, but it’s, like I said, it’s a calm, laid back vibe. I’ve been to trade shows where it’s in the thousands and it’s very different. That’s definitely a way to also get the most out of it.
Jeremy: Well, that’s perfect. I look forward to seeing you there. Everyone listening, you can catch the PAL team at CAR Conference 2023 in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, and anytime at preownedautologistics.com. Thanks for listening.