HDAW 2021 Preview: Using the event’s virtual format to maximize your experience

Though you won’t be receiving any free pens or other trade show trinkets when you attend virtual Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2021 later this month, the event’s organizers are working diligently to ensure the takeaways from this year’s convention — swag aside — will be just as valuable to your business as what you’ve come to expect from the independent aftermarket’s biggest annual event.

With a schedule that includes six industry expert speakers across HDAW programming and its Service Opportunities Learning Days (SOLD) event, a product spotlight session that will debut the aftermarket’s newest innovations and two full days of 1-on-1 supplier and distributor meetings, this month’s virtual program will offer more than enough content to help aftermarket distributors and their supplier partners put their best foot forward for the year ahead.

“I’ve always thought, because of the timing at the beginning of the year and the reputation of the event, that HDAW has served as a great jumping off point for the next year,” says Accuride’s Drew Hofley, senior vice president, sales, and HDAW supplier representative co-chair.

In addition to allowing the industry to knock off the rust from the holidays and return to business mode, Hofley says HDAW also has established itself as a market barometer for aftermarket suppliers and distributors, alike. Because it brings the entire aftermarket together each January, Hofley says HDAW enables the industry to carefully assess the fiscal year it just completed and comprehensively discuss the potential and pitfalls of the year ahead.

Hofley and distributor representative co-chair Andy Robblee, Six Robblees’ president, say that opportunity won’t go away despite this year’s new online location because the HDAW ownership group and joint operating committee understand the unique importance of the event and what it provides. Virtual HDAW has been developed to be as seamless and user friendly as any remote event can be, and should enable attendees the ability to still connect, learn and gather information like they would if they were in Grapevine, Texas, or Las Vegas as in years past.

HDAW has selected a trio of top-notch virtual connectivity tools for this month’s program.

Accelevents will serve as the platform for HDAW’s opening general session, HDAW and SOLD educational workshops and supplier product debuts. MeetMax will be the resource of choice for the convention’s 1-on-1 meetings and attendee networking, while BlueJeans will serve as the event’s video conferencing tool of choice.

Organizers says HDAW will distribute a training video with instructions for how to login and navigate the platforms, along with login credentials, before HDAW formally kicks off on Jan. 25. Organizers add the Accelevents platform also will offer a live Help Desk for users during the entirety of the week.

For an event as valuable as HDAW, organizers say they’re aware attendees can’t afford connectivity issues that prohibit them from the takeaways of the week.

Robblee says HDAW’s co-owners and joint operating committee “have put in a ton of work behind the scenes” to ensure the event goes off without a hitch and he’s excited to see the fruits of their labor.

Hofley agrees, adding organizers have done an excellent job in transitioning the event into a virtual program that will maintain the rhythm and familiar beats of the live event without the COVID-related on-site health risks.

“Being able to adhere to some sense of normalcy in a completely abnormal situation was very important to everyone,” he says.

While the loss of HDAW’s beloved networking events is one aspect of the week that cannot be replicated in a virtual format, organizers are doing their best to ensure connections can still be made. Within the Accelevents platform will be a tool called HDAW Connect that will enable attendees to search for and message other event attendees. Organizers hope the tool will encourage communication and serve as a springboard to building relationships that can hopefully grow in person at future events.

HDAW is where the aftermarket gets business done, and organizers add they don’t want COVID-19 to stand in the way of anyone using HDAW to grow their business.

This is the second of four TPS articles previewing HDAW 2021. The first article is below. The third article in the series will be posted next Monday.

For more information, and to register for HDAW, please CLICK HERE.

HDAW 2021 Preview: Co-chairs ‘bullish’ about potential for upcoming virtual convention

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