Parking Industry Exhibition Breaks All RecordsThe Parking Industry Exhibition, sponsored by Parking Today and held March 30-April 2, in Chicago broke all previous attendance records for the show. According to Show Manager Andy Van Horn, the event hosted nearly 800 people, of whom more than 550 were attendees.
“Not only did we have a record number of parking folks attend,” said Van Horn, “but we also sold out the exhibit hall with nearly 100 companies represented. It was fantastic.”
Attendance isn’t the only thing involved in these events, continued Van Horn. “We also want the attendees to return home with information not just from the exhibit floor, but from the seminars as well. We changed the program this year so the exhibits were open only four hours daily. The seminars were not run during the exhibit hours.”
He explained that this enabled the experts from the vendors’ companies to become involved in the seminars and add their knowledge to the programs.
“PIE is an ‘intimate’ show, with most booths being small, 8x10 affairs. This levels the playing field a bit and gives all vendors a more equal chance at the attendees,” Van Horn said.
“I like the way PIE gives you the chance to spend time with individual attendees,” said one exhibitor. “We aren’t overwhelmed. We had time to talk, both when the show was on and afterwards.”
More than 120 attended PIE’s “Boot Camp.” The program, for those new to the parking industry, is held before the conference opens and is designed to give attendees a basic background on which to build their careers in parking.
“Speed networking” was very popular, added Van Horn. This take-off on “speed dating” enabled attendees to quickly meet one another, find those who have similar interests, and exchange contact information.
“I thought PIE was a regional show,” said one vendor during the vendor meeting. “But, frankly, I have met people from all over the country. How did you do it?”
“We have a large database of telephone numbers of those in the parking industry – more than 12,000,” said Van Horn. “We had our staff literally call each of these numbers, twice. We left messages and personally invited attendees. Of course, there is also a very large number of people who have banned e-mails from Andy Van Horn. We were persistent.”
The Parking Industry Exhibition will return to Chicago in March 2010. Responding to industry input, the event is going to an every-other-year format.