From a standing-room-only press conference for the Factory Image Program to a concourse crowded with attendees, when the doors opened Saturday there was little doubt about the state of this convention: NADA is back.
There are more than 20,000 car dealers, executives and exhibitors; the expo floor is sold out, and the global feel is more evident than many can remember. There are Russians, Chinese and even an Australian dealer who flew 26 hours to attend. In all, 36 countries are represented here.
"There's a real sense that this is the place to be again," said Doug Speck, Volvo's former North America boss and now the brand's senior vice president for marketing, sales and customer service in Sweden. He is one of 1,500 attendees from outside the United States.
At an event Friday, NADA spokesman David Hyatt had reason to beam.
"We couldn't be more thrilled with how things have turned out," he said. "A pure sign of recovery."
Location helps. Vegas on Super Bowl weekend is the No. 1 destination in America on game day, aside from the game's stadium itself. The 30 percent boost in attendance is inflated due to the addition of commercial truck dealers. But if this convention is a bellwether for the industry, the recovery is official.
Two years ago, the talk was all about who wasn't here.
And now, two years later, you can't afford to miss it.