The infamous Temecula Parking Group met this past weekend in LA. The “Parking Think Tank” was my brainchild and has been meeting annually for the past six or seven years. The name? We began meeting in the Southern California Wine country community of Temecula, since there is a lot of wine and golf there, and the TPG members like both. (Also, I happen to have a small vacation home in the area:)
The members? It began as a group of my friends in the parking business. We have expanded it to include board members of the IPI and NPA and senior parking managers from cities, universities, hospitals, and parking operators. Typically we have about 25 to 30 attendees.
Over the three days we meet for about 12 hours and then golf, shop, hike, sleep, and attend two hosted parties in the evenings. One is a more formal dinner and the second is an informal “chili” party where discussions are continued in a more ‘relaxed’ atmosphere. Often, as was the case this weekend, more cogent discussions were held informally than in the ’roundtable’ sessions we held.
So, what is the purpose? That questions is asked at each meeting and often the direction of the TPG is attempted to be nudged or shifted into a dynamic organization that can set policy and goals for the entire parking industry.
What we end up doing, however, is discussing important topics and then culling the discussions into articles and white papers that are published in parking media. The ‘results’ of TPG conversations are typically ideas than hopefully can assist in generating changes and policies in manufacturing, parking organizations, operators, owners, and municipal and university parking operations.
This year we focused on a couple of areas — one was technology and PCI. The members expressed concern that owners and many operators didn’t truly understand that just because a particular revenue control system 0r credit card module was PCI compliant, that didn’t mean that the owner met PCI regulations. Owners and operators find, often at their horror, that PCI is more than just complex software. It involves operations, and complex auditing procedures that are time consuming, and very expensive.We discussed these issues in detail and how to communicate them to the industry.
The second area had to do with professionalism in our industry. How does one take a service industry like ours and make it a ‘profession.’ We had to define “professional” and then determine how to move ‘parking’ in that direction. Most professions have ‘standards’ and then ways of measuring performance against those standards. The TPG has a smaller group working on those standards, which will be reviewed and published in the next few months as a “white paper” that hopefully can lead to an industry where when someone asks what the ‘industry standard’ on a certain topic, say ‘acceptable loss in revenue in off street operations’ or ‘minimal training requirements for garage or enforcement personnel’ there will be an answer.
I will provide ‘snippets’ in the next week or so in this space concerning discussions we held. As usual, if you find it interesting and wish to participate in future TPG meetings, just let me know and you will be put on our invitation list. Its that easy.