Slices of 2014 PIE
March 2014 will be parking month in Chicago, when the Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) lands at O’Hare International Airport and parks at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare on the airport’s periphery.
This edition of the event, sponsored and produced by Parking Today, marks the 15th time that PIE has been mounted, 14 in Chicago.
“We made a foray into Baltimore one year in conjunction with Intertraffic U.S,, but found that our location in Chicago was a better fit, both for us and our attendees,” said John Van Horn, President of Bricepac Inc., PT’s parent company.
“We feel that the ease of getting to Chicago (virtually a three-hour-or-less flight from anywhere in the U.S.), plus the quality of the Hyatt’s world-class event support services, makes keeping the show in the ‘Windy City’ a no-brainer.
“We have two customer groups that we cater two at PIE: the attendees and the exhibitors,” Van Horn continued. “We want to make it as inexpensive and as easy as possible for attendees, and essentially the same for exhibitors. I can see no reason to charge for something just because we can.
“PIE has a reputation for excellence in its seminars,” he added. “We also attempt to change slightly the way we present the information each year. When you come to PIE, it’s not just the ‘same old, same old.’ When you attend year after year, you can expect something different. 2014 is no exception.”
“This is my third PIE, and I have to agree with JVH,” said show General Manager Eric Abel. “Each one has been different in feel, but I think the changes have always been for the best. Whether it’s the food service, the seminars or the social functions, we always have something up our sleeves to make the event memorable for attendees and exhibitors alike.”
“Having a full-time show manager makes a huge difference in how the event proceeds,” Van Horn noted. “Eric has become a fixture at PIE, and his background in trade show management means that things run smoothly.
“If an exhibitor has a problem, it’s fixed. If an attendee needs help, we are there. Having the PIE operation running all year ’round means that we don’t have the typical rush at the last minute,” Van Horn said. “Our marketing and operations departments have the time to ensure a professionally run event.”
PIE 2014 will be March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. For more information and to register, go to
2014 PIE Theme:
‘The Future of Parking, Today’
“I don’t do a call for papers for the PIE seminars,” says John Van Horn, Parking Today Editor and organizer of the seminars at the PT-sponsored and produced shows. “We determine what people want to hear and then seek out the best speakers on those topics.”
The theme of PIE 2014 is “The Future of Parking, Today.” Yes, a play on words, but also a crucial text for a focus on technology and its relationship to the industry. What is current, what works, what’s on the horizon, and how you should use it. Every seminar will focus on technology and how it applies.
Each year, the event provides informational sessions on all aspects of the parking profession, with experts who not only know their information, but also can communicate it in a way that attendees can understand.
“This is more difficult than a ‘call for papers,’” Van Horn said, “when you receive a hundred outlines for speakers and have to select the number you need. The problem is that in many cases we have no clue as to the quality of the presentation, or whether it’s an advertorial for a product or service.
“We actually know the PIE speakers personally and know they not only can talk the talk, but walk the walk,” Van Horn said.
Unafraid to be different, PIE 2014, set for March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, will head down a different fork in the seminar road. At a time when attendees expect to hear keynote speakers, Van Horn said that this year they will be shown a different way of receiving information – a full-fledged seminar with a number of speakers, and then breakout sessions where those speakers answer questions specific to their topic.
The attendees can follow the speaker they wish to get the information they need about their slice of the parking pie, whether higher d, municipal, airport, development, operations, shopping centers, hospitals or venues.
“We know your time is valuable,” Van Horn said, “and we want every moment at PIE 2014 to be worth the investment put forth by attendees and exhibitors alike. It may be fun to listen to an ex-footballer tell his tales or an author hawk his books about motivation, but do you really take anything away from those talks?
“We want parking professionals to take good information away from every PIE, and we design the seminars and presentations to make it so.”
For the most current seminar topics, go to www.parkingtoday.com and click on “PIE.” The topics and speakers are updated weekly. For more information on PIE 2014 and to register, go to www.parkingtoday.com/pie.
All conferences have social events. Some are major off-site recreational get-togethers, where attendees are enticed to join in fun and games and participate in activities unrelated to the theme of the conference.
The organizers of PIE, sponsored and produced by Parking Today, have considered the true reason for social events and determined it to be a time for meeting and networking, so they formulate them to enable you to do just that.
“Social events need to be planned so that attendees can meet and network,” said PIE General Manager Eric Abel. “Too much noise, too long in lines, too many buses to ride all detract from the purpose of the event. We also have put a lot of planning into the social events and feel that those at PIE set the standard.”
Three major social events will be held during the conference March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.
First, an “exhibitor only” cocktail reception will be hosted by Parking Today. Said PT Editor John Van Horn: “I have been an exhibitor, and it’s a lot of work. You have to be ‘on’ for three or four days, plus set up and tear down the booths.
“The exhibitors need some time to themselves when they can relax, talk to one another, and not have to be in a sales or marketing mode. This reception has been extremely popular,” Van Horn said. “We hold it on Sunday evening (March 16), after the exhibits are set up, and allow exhibitor personnel the opportunity to eat a good meal, as well as test their capacity for adult beverages.”
Second, Monday evening brings the attendee reception. “It’s just that,” Van Horn said, “a reception where attendees can relax, chat with one another, and compare notes from the day’s events. No pressure to go anywhere, the reception is held in the hotel but not the exhibition hall.
“Who can network if they are also in an exhibit/learning mode? We want our attendees to wind down. There is a lot more PIE to come.” Also, he noted, “it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and what better place than Chicago to turn Irish for the evening?”
Third, Tuesday adds a new dimension to social events at PIE 2014 – attendees will head Downtown for a view of the Chicago River, and its green color, painted in celebration of Old St. Pat. They can set up dinner throughout the downtown area with new friends, and return on the buses at a predetermined time, or find their way back by taxi or rapid transit.
“Social networking should add to a convention, not detract from it,” Van Horn said. PIE 2014 will be March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. For more information and to register, go to www.parkingtoday.com/pie.
Is the Purpose of a
Conference to Have Fun?
What is an exhibition without exhibits? PIE 2014, set for March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, means that some 120 of the major parking technology companies will be strutting their stuff right in the hotel’s grand ballroom.
You don’t have to walk across the street or catch a bus, because PIE means convenience.
“We strive to make our exhibition one that has a ‘boutique’ feel,” said PIE General Manager Eric Abel. “That allows attendees to chat with exhibitors, and exhibitors to do more than collect business cards,” he noted.
“In many cases at previous PIE shows, attendees have actually brought specifications to the show and shared them with exhibitors,” Abel said. "We have had a number of sessions where pre-bid conferences have been held at PIE.”
The goal is for exhibitors and attendees to be able to meet and share information, he said. Hotel rooms have been set aside for private meetings when a particular product or service needs more detailed discussions with a potential customer. PIE 2014, sponsored and produced by Parking Today, “is meant to make it easy for supplier and customer to talk in an unhurried atmosphere,” Abel said.
The exhibit hall is open 4½ hours on Monday (March 17) and again for the same time on Tuesday. No split sessions. If you come only for the exhibits, you won’t be disappointed or have your time wasted, he said.
For more information on PIE 2014 and to register, go to www.parkingtoday.com/pie.