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Reflections on a Trade Show – PIE 2012 from Page 26

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.

Cunning made parking interesting and palpable. Yes, palpable is the key, because for our brains to actually absorb new lessons,

Amsterdam and Intertraffic 2012: A Story of Colors

(The 2012 Intertraffic Amsterdam show followed on the heels of PIE at the end of March. Here another non-industry visitor, from Strasbourg, France, reacts to the largest show on the planet. Editor)

By Scarlett Ambroziak Schneider I had the chance to participate in the biggest

event dealing with parking in the world, Intertraffic Amsterdam. It was my first trip to Holland and my first parking industry trade show. Both were rich in emotions. First of all, I discovered

the city.

During the journey between the airport and the hotel, I noticed that all the houses seemed to be painted the same; they were red with white window trim. A lot of color.

Going to the Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, the halls where the show was held, I rode on blue-and-white trams, under a threatening gray sky. The coffee shops all seemed to be green, and the curio shops were orange. I stepped off the tram and, OMG, this event was

huge: 56,000 square meters of exhibition space, 800 exhibitors from around the world, and more than 20,000 visitors. Wow!

When I entered the huge halls, I found no music but talking everywhere. I noticed that each exhibitor focused on the color of its product. Yellow and white (even the ties) at Scheidt & Bachmann, Red and white at Zeag, and white on white at Designa.

I walked the various aisles, I talked to people in the

booths, I looked at companies and products, and I tried to perfect my English. The last day of Intertraffic, John Van Horn asked me

what I “felt” about the event. I replied that I had lived a great experience, but the technology and the products were a little frightening. What else? He asked.

I did not answer immediately, because I knew of the importance these events have for businesses. And then I said: “The machines look the same, but they are painted different colors.”

With that comment, I knew I would never work

for Skidata, Metric or FAAC. But it doesn’t matter. I saw in the streets of Amsterdam and the aisles of 2012 Intertraffic all the colors of Rembrandt’s palette. And I didn’t have to visit a museum.

Scarlett Ambroziak Schneider, a cousin of Astrid Ambroziak, is a participant on PT’s Facebook page, and was an assistant at its booth at 2012 Intertraffic Amsterdam.

Parking Today

we must focus intently or simply feel the message. While listening to Cunning, I thought, we need people like him to show us the customer that paid parking isn’t evil. That paid parking can be beneficial to us all. That, just as everything in life, it is all in our perceptions. Throughout the four days of the PIE, I could find myriad

interesting speakers presenting valuable information. The ones who struck the chord most were those who cared about me, the attendee, and how their information related to me. Rick Decker, Parking Operations Manager of Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport, was wonderful with his airport parking Boot Camp. Just as with Cunning, his information was delicious because his focus was on the listener. Decker was interesting because he chose to be interested in us, the audience. The same went for Management Consultant Barbara Chance and Parking Authority Executive Director Larry Cohen. Besides the informative lectures and seminars, the PIE

offered exhibitors the floor to present their products. I was in awe of all the nuts and bolts that go into parking operations. Since I am not a parking professional, I could only judge the booths based on the esthetics and the friendliness of the exhibitors. One of my favorite booths was Trans-Tech. Its bright neon

signs spoke to me. As a runner and hiker, I would love to see more of these LED signs on the streets. Parking signs can be a challenge to read, especially at the crack of dawn when I tend to venture out to explore the world. Another booth that had a draw for me was OmniPark. Its main attraction were the people running the booth. Their personable approach and social intelligence made me interested in their products. The folks at CleanTech had done the same. They were generous with their time. Their openness and friendliness made their products more valuable. As McLean sings about having a chance of making people dance and having them happy for a while, I realized that where PIE 2012 most succeeded was through its “speed networking” session and parties.

The former had a humorous aspect to it since it is modeled on speed dating. I had fun with it while herding attendees into a room, where through this session they had a chance to partake in a long marriage or at least one night stand. I am not talking about Eros love here, but strictly about developing a relationship between a vendor and a customer, a manufacturer and a customer. The latter was a natural progression of bringing people together. Developing contacts while sharing a beer or a glass of wine. Allowing humor to shine. After all, humor is the shortest distance to comfort. PIE did a great job at making sure that there is a softer side to the parking industry through the interaction of its members in a laidback social atmosphere. The rigidity of making a deal gets replaced with the palpability

of human contact. Of being heard and felt. And, in my opinion, that is what eventually does make a sale.

I learned a lot from this year’s PIE. I was privileged to be a part of it. The most important lesson — besides being grateful that at age 45 I can still rock a macro mini dress and not be shy about it — was that the parking industry is a people’s industry. That it should be our objective to subscribe to the lyrics of “American Pie” and make people dance so they can be happy for a while. That the customer, attendee, visitor, listener is always right. That a product we sell or a lecture we present is only as good as the satisfaction and happiness of those who use it or partake in it.

Astrid Ambroziak is a writer, Facebook maven, sage and health addict who lives in Los Angeles and periodically provides fair for PT’s pages. She can be reached at

PT 29

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