There’s a reason PIE is in Chicago
What is PIE, anyway?
By John Van Horn, Editor, Parking Today
Is the Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) any different from the IPI or NPA shows? Who puts it on? Is a membership required? Do the people who organize it have any background in parking? Just what is a “PIE” anyway?
When Marilyn Etheridge began to promote PIE to the members of the Florida Parking Association, she got questions such as those. Etheridge, now a PIE team leader in charge of attendee outreach, told us that she felt many really didn’t know what PIE is all about, and that we might be “talking to the converted” with our marketing program.
It was good to get a fresh viewpoint. So how do we take PIE from here?
The parking industry was one of the few major industries in the U.S. that had trade shows organized only by trade organizations.
Most major industry groups have shows owned by companies whose job it is to present trade shows. The type of show or the products presented make little difference. The fashion shows in New York, for example, or the toy shows in Dallas, the major electronic shows or construction shows in Las Vegas are of that ilk.
The parking industry was too small to attract these organizations, so it was up to the trade groups (the National Parking Association and the International Parking Institute) to put on the events. They are successful at that, and their expos are major revenue sources for their associations.
Fifteen years ago, we at Parking Today went to the two groups and asked if we could help bring new people to their shows, at no charge. We are a “rising tide raises all boats” type of company, but the trade groups wanted nothing to do with us.
We knew that we reached thousands more parking professionals throughout the country than either group, so we decided to form the Parking Industry Exhibition, or PIE.
Where the trade associations, by definition, must cater to their membership, we do not. We are independent, and cater to our customers and our readers.
Our goal is to provide a venue where those wanting parking information and products can meet those who have the information and products. We try to keep the cost down so that we are available to a larger group of attendees.
We are business people and understand that it is difficult to take a week off to attend a trade show. So, we keep PIE compact and filled with really good stuff. When you leave after three days, you will leave with your head spinning with information. We are here at PIE to talk parking. And that’s all.
The seminars aren’t “calls for papers.” We ask our readers what they want to hear, and then find the best speakers on those topics. You won’t find a “dog” seminar at PIE. You will find speakers who challenge, question and inform.
Except for one year, we have held the Parking Industry Exhibition in Chicago, at a hotel near O’Hare International Airport. It’s the second-busiest airport in the U.S., with more than 2,400 flights a day, mostly from cities in the U.S. It is less than four hours from virtually every U.S. airport and less than two hours from the majority of the country’s population. Plain and simple, it’s quick and easy to get to Chicago.
Our venue is one of the most convenient, too. The Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel is built for our trade show. There are first-class hotel rooms, a great convention venue, and conference rooms for seminars and other sessions. There’s no real reason to leave the hotel, but if you like, some of the city’s better restaurants are a short walk away.
But we think that people who come to PIE come to work and not to play. Sure, we have a cocktail party that out-parties any we have seen, and we feed you well, but we think that you come to these events not to party, party, party, but to network, network, network.
PIE has been called a “boutique” event because we tend to limit the size of the booths. This enables attendees to actually talk to the exhibitors, and not be overwhelmed by, as some like to put it, “elephants and dancing girls.”
Chicago is a destination location, so if you are inclined to make it a short vacation, you can get downtown on the city’s efficient rapid transit, which is only a block away – well, a long block, but it’s close at hand. Want to gamble, the local casino is a short walk up the street.
Chicago is “my kind of town” and offers everything you might want, too.
Want to justify this conference to your boss? That’s easy. It’s inexpensive, it has the information you want, and you can be gone only three days. Plus, you will receive a certificate showing which seminars you attended and verifying that you were there. And we don’t cheat, either.
At PIE 2013, we had attendees from as far away as Australia, China, Europe, South America, the Middle East and, yes, even Canada. The Parking Industry Exhibition draws, because people talk about it long afterwards. They meet and make business friends, and can use those relationships to further their knowledge of their industry.
In mid-March, make PIE 2014 your destination for parking information and industry networking.
• It will challenge your parking knowledge.
• It will fit your budget.
• It will show you are serious about your profession.
• It will bring you current on parking technology.
• It will introduce you to new and valuable friends.
Besides, where else would you want to be than Chicago in March?
John Van Horn is editor of Parking Today, which sponsors and produces the Parking Industry Exhibition.
PIE 2014 will be March 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. For more information and to register, go to
Article Abstract from January, 2014