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Reflections on a Trade Show – PIE 2012

PIE 2012: “I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance and maybe they’d be happy for a while.”

By Astrid Ambroziak

What can be better than a slice of apple pie on a windy, cold Sunday evening? To me, it can be Don

McLean singing “American Pie” on my iPod, while I’m running through the streets of my neighborhood and the memories of the wonderful 2012 Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) that took place mid-March in Chicago.

The former “pie” can make you fat. The latter can make you

fit and fast. The first is loaded with empty calories. The other PIE is abundant with rich information. The former forces you to live in baggy sweats. The latter allows you to wear classic business attire. That’s what actually happened in my case. Use it or lose it applies here. I am talking about mind, body and soul because PIE incorporates all three.

I was very excited to be a part of the Parking Today staff for this year’s PIE. The weather gods smiled on us. The usually dreadfully cold Chicago March turned into a beautiful and warm summer-like spring. The temps were in the 80s several days in the row. Chicago’s March 2012 went on record as the warmest March in history.

It made me wonder if the parking industry can have so much impact upon the weather. After all, it does affect pretty much every area of our lives. In “American Pie,” Don McLean sings: “A long long time ago I can still remember how That music used to make me smile And I knew if I had my chance That I could make those people dance And maybe they’d be happy for a while.”

From the very first day of the Parking Today-sponsored

PIE conference, I realized that McLean’s lyrics are as valid today as they were in 1971. Back then, it was the end of the era. The prosperity of the 1950s and ’60s was winding down. Changes were coming. And there was palpable nostalgia for the bygone area. Today, our country is facing tough financial times. Changes are taking place daily, especially in technology. Technology is a huge part

of the parking equation. As was evident in Chicago on the PIE trade show floor, technology is transforming the way we park, where we park and how we pay for parking.

We don’t need to search for coins in our glove compartment anymore to pay for an hour’s

Author Astrid Ambroziak takes a break from preparations at Parking Today-sponsored PIE 2012 with Andy Van Horn and Eric Abel.

What made his presentation interesting was his ability to bond with the audience. He left his ego behind. He made the information shine. It wasn’t about him and what he knows but about us, the listeners.

parking spot in front of our beloved restaurant. The new meters not only accept credit cards, but if you don’t have a Visa or Master Card, you can pay via your smartphone. Also, your iPhone can let you know if a space is available before you head out for your favorite Sunday breakfast.

Still, four decades since McLean wrote his song, one thing remains constant. Our desire for happiness. It is an objective of any industry to make a customer happy. This was very evident during these few days in March at 2012 PIE. “And I knew if I had may chance. That I could make those people dance. And maybe they’d be happy for a while.” There are other parking industry gatherings in this country and abroad. However, what made PIE 2012 special, I think, was this human touch of making people feel important. “People” as in customers, exhibitors, vendors, manufacturers. From the very first day on

Sunday, the people factor was on display. At least 120 folks attended Boot Camp – Parking 101. It took a while to get the audience interested in the presentations.

Yet, the minute Dennis Cunning of DLC Consulting started

to speak, the audience became completely attuned. He spoke about revenue control and the basic tenets of running garages. Common sense factored in.

Continued on Page 29

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