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point of view

PIE, 'Wild Marketing,' A Senior Moment, and Trade Shows

John Van Horn

The Parking Industry Exhibition is over and the industry is gearing up for the IPI show in Long Beach, CA. I am always a bit disappointed in the turnout at PIE, but considering the world situation (Yes, President Bush did call to confirm the PIE start date so he could work that into the war plans), the economy and SARS, we did pretty well. While numbers at trade shows have been down upwards of 40 percent nationwide, PIE held to within 10 percent of last year's record attendance (we had over 450 attendees this year).
With a few exceptions, exhibitors told me they were pleased with the quantity and quality of the attendees, and also went out of their way to compliment our staff on their work at the conference. After reviewing the evaluation forms, we found that all but two of the seminars got rave reviews, and even those that were "less than perfect" got their message across.
I was most gratified that "boot camp" and "advanced parking training" did so well. Nearly 100 attended boot camp this year, and almost 50 learned about building garages in advanced parking training. Obviously, these two features of PIE are here to stay.
Details of the conference can be seen elsewhere in this issue of PT. Next year we return to Chicago.
Oh, although I know that the IPI's David Ivey has a closer relationship with ex-President Clinton than with "W," it was nice of the president to coordinate the war's end so as not to conflict with that "other" parking event.
***
For some people, a "wild" marketing idea takes courage, for others it's just good business. In the case of Stan Cramer of Cramer Airport Parking in Harrisburg, PA, it's a combination of both. Stan attended PIE in his "black and white" suit. Its purpose -- to bring attention to his new advertising campaign: "Difference, Black and White."
In the poster and ads seen all over Harrisburg, Stan's image brings attention to the difference between his operation and that of the local airport. He offers car door-to-terminal door service, the driver handles baggage, helps with snow removal, and waits until your car starts, and they offer free jumpstarts and free car washes.
Stan's wife Lynn told me that the campaign was targeted at a local travel agency convention and was wildly successful. It's just wonderful when we see innovative, out-of-the-box thinking in our industry. Way to go, Cramers.
By the way, more info can be found on the Cramer operation in the March issue of Parking Today.
***
Well, just to show we aren't perfect, your editor, in concert with our art department, blew it in the last issue of PT. We ran the wrong headline on Jack Ricchiuto's excellent article on maximizing parking revenue. It was my mistake, but I had to blame someone, so I blamed Shelly, our two-month-in-the-saddle art director. It's good to be the boss.
This can happen from time to time when you have an operation where all the staff does multiple tasks (and don't work out of the same office). In this case, we were all (including Shelly) at PIE and reviewed the proof of the magazine between sessions. The mistake didn't happen there, however (although it would have been a good excuse). I simply changed a headline to make it more "snappy," and gave Shelly the wrong page number to put the headline on. She did it exactly as I said.
We have changed our procedures a bit and will have a final look at the proofs AFTER the last changes are made, just to be sure the "senior moments" of yours truly haven't kicked in again.
By the way, we have reprinted Jack's article (with the proper headline). If you would like a copy, contact him (or me at editor@parkingtoday.com) and we will put one in the mail.
***
That gaffe aside, I thought that between Jack, Mary Smith and Thomas Butcher, Jan Pero, Rich Duffy, Rod Hoover, Gorm Tuxen and my humble bon mots on John Wayne Airport we pretty well surrounded the subject of airports.
This month we focus on trade shows, our and theirs. Frankly, as I noted earlier I am disappointed in my fellow parking pros and their lack of support of the trade events produced nationally and locally by your associations. If you take a peek at the calendar on Page 70 of this PT, you will find over 15 events in North America this year. And considering that there are over 25,000 active managers in the parking business at all levels, only about 10 percent will attend all the shows combined (this doesn't count vendors). I think it's pretty sad.
Sure it costs a few bucks, but it's worth it. You get good information, get to see the new stuff the vendors have in store, and most of all, get an opportunity to network with your peers. Most attendees tell me that's the best part.
See you in L.A., or Chicago, or Santa Fe, or Ocean City, or Orlando, or San Francisco, or Toronto, or Peoria, or Madison.....

Article Abstract from May, 2003




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