NPA 2013

Once again Christine Banning and her band of volunteers have turned a magnificent show. With over 1000 attendees, this year’s NPA Conference and Trade Show is the biggest in history, and in some ways, the best ever too.

The speakers on the first day, Wim Elfrink of Cisco and Bill Krouse from Jones Lang Lasalle hit the mark with their projections and comments about technology, big data, and our economic future.  These aren’t just folks who walked in off the street but true experts on their subjects. NPA did well to snag them.

The awards luncheon was not only tasty, but full of substance. I was surprised that the award winners were as much from the public sector than the private, with the Mayor of Indianapolis being named the parking innovator of the year following the successful rollout of the ppp project in his city. The NPA is to be commended for its inclusiveness and for pointing out that there are two sectors in parking, and that they are representing both.

Christine’s exhibit hall was truly a success. Over 120 exhibitors, many with double or triple booths, gave the attendees their money’s worth. This year the focus was on technology with parking apps of every type on display and new revenue control companies.  I particularly liked the layout of the show, it was effective, but small enough so that exhibitors weren’t overwhelmed by what I call booths with “elephants and dancing girls.”  You had an opportunity to visit and talk to vendors and get your questions answered.

The educational program was filled with, guess what, education. The NPA does this in spades and 2013 was no exception. If you want a list go on line and check it out.  These seminars are by people who earn their living doing the things they are talking about. They have been through the hard problems, and are telling their secrets to anyone who will listen.

The best thing about any such event is networking. Everywhere you looked parking rock stars were talking to people, giving advice, and yes, even listening to a bit. This goes on at lunch, on the trade show floor, and even in the bars and restaurants for which Chicago is so famous.

Even the Valet Olympics is something that showcases some of the unsung heroes of our industry, those young men and women who work in the trenches and make us proud. Well done, NPA.

Christine Banning has contracted with Dawn Newman to assist with trade events for the NPA. Christine told me they just have so much going on they needed help. She got it with Dawn, who helped us found the PIE show back ages ago. I’m happy for both of them.  Christine says that they will grow again in 2014 and it looks like they might – with the show being at Caesar’s in Las Vegas, certainly a big draw by itself.

Other parking organizations better look over their shoulders. I said it last year and I say it again. The NPA, with its vibrant leaders like Jeff Wolfe and Christine Banning is becoming THE parking organization in the US.  They are dynamic, inclusive, and growing fast. They have content, reasons for people to join, and they are working hard to keep politics out of their committees and off their board. 

 JVH 

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