Have we really returned to the way things were before the pandemic? If the 2022 tradeshow schedule is anything to go by, we certainly have. There is a comfortable familiarity in the way one show follows another as the year progresses.

We started off with Mobile Tech Expo in January, which caters primarily to detailers. The Southwest Car Wash Association Convention and Expo, the first “big” car wash show of the year, followed in February — in the spot on the calendar where it has always been. And if it’s spring, it must be time for The Car Wash Show. And so it is. The International Carwash Association’s premier annual event takes place May 9-11 at Music City Center in Nashville TN.

When car washers gather in Nashville, it will have been a mere six months since the last iteration of The Car Wash Show. That event was held in Las Vegas, its oddly timed scheduling the result of previous set dates being postponed due to COVID-19. This show was somewhat scaled down. There was, for example, no general session or opening reception.

Returning to its regular timeslot, The Car Wash Show 2022 is more recognizable, though there are some important and positive adjustments to its programming. Both the opening reception and general session are back. The first offers both attendees and exhibitors the opportunity to relax a little and network at the end of the first tradeshow day. The second features the keynote address, award presentation, and the ICA annual meeting, the once-a-year opportunity to hear about the association’s activities over the previous year and its plans for the future.

For several years, the show ran a two-tier educational program — premium and basic. The premium program featured professional speakers/consultants and came with some additional cost, while the basic track consisted mostly of presentations by industry vendors or operators. A third category was only accessible by association members. The lineup hasn’t changed, access has. For 2022 there is only one tier: one pass gets you everything for all three days.

There are, of course, exceptions. To attend either the Management Fundamentals course or Meet the Market, a program designed for new investors, an additional fee is required. And those who wish to visit the exhibits only get a break. A one-day pass to the tradeshow floor is available for Wednesday, May 11 only. This is the last day of the show with only three and a half hours of exhibit time.

This pass will set you back $150. For an additional $100, you’ll have a pass that will allow you not only a further 14 hours of visiting time with exhibitors but will also give you access to everything else the show has to offer.

Why attend The Car Wash Show? To learn. In his On the Wash Front column in this issue, Anthony Analetto calls on operators to never stop learning. He illustrates how being exposed to new ideas can influence and even change long-held opinions. The Car Wash Show offers exactly that opportunity: exposure to new equipment, new ideas, and other innovations in the car wash business whether in the seminars, at an exhibitor booth, or through networking with peers. As the show’s website puts it: “Get informed. Leave inspired.”