I just got back from the Intertraffic event in Amsterdam and our PIE show in Chicago. Everyone, friends, relatives, business associates, co workers ask the same question: How was the show?
I struggle with the answer because few really want to know how it was. I think the question falls into the category of “How are you feeling?” or “How was the flight?” It is something everyone says but doesn’t want more than a few word answer.
The Show was Great — Saw Lots of people, ate some good food, the party on Wednesday night was abfab.
The real answer is more complex and it depends on who asked the question. Your friends and family want the answer above. Coworkers in our industry want a bit more. They may be looking for input so they can make a decision as to whether or not they should attend next year. With that in mind here are my answers. First PIE:
The PIE show has impact. One person told me that it is “edited down to the real thing.” People go there to share information about Parking. The seminars are taken from the topics that are on everyone’s mind: Technology and how is it going to affect me, my job, and my organization. I heard attendee after attendee talk about the quality of the presentations and what they got out of them. Some commented that they were too short.
Exhibitors seemed happy with the number and quality of the attendees. Of course I am prejudiced and people have a tendency to tell me what I want to hear, but I noticed that there were no “slow times” in the exhibit hall. It was always buzzing. And that means business.
I’m not really a social person. I put on an good act but I don’t really enjoy the parties and such events. I found the speaker/exhibitor and the attendee parties on Sunday and Monday nights to be more than tolerable. It was easy to move around and you could actually talk to people. I didn’t have to yell over the music or the drunk at the next table. I felt relaxed and included.
I go to PIE because I’m supposed to go. I work for the company that puts it on. Some say I’m the ‘face’ of the event. So my reason for going is to be there, help out when needed, and make it through until the last seminar is over. I can do that. This year, I actually found myself enjoying the event. Even when I was keeping a couple of competitors from duking it out or negotiating truce between a couple of businessmen who might have had a tad too much John Barleycorn.
When I looked back at all the pictures we took both in the seminars, at the exhibit hall and during the social events, I saw intensity, engagement and enjoyment. To me that means we did our job right. I’m happy.
Intertraffic was as a boss I once had called a “horse of a different story.” This is an event on a Biblical scale. You could take the NPA, IPI, and PIE events and put them all together in one exhibit hall. There were nine. Exhibitors spend much time and treasure preparing for this exhibition. Its almost too much. The show lasts four days and is open from 10AM to 6 PM. That in itself tells you something.
The company that puts this mega show on has little interest seminars or networking. They provide a place where nearly 1000 companies can display their wares and nearly 20,000 people can wander around with dazed looks on their faces.
Intertraffic is biannual. It comes every other year. Companies plan their marketing programs around the event and use it to launch new products and dust off existing ones. It serves a purpose by forcing a schedule on suppliers. And because of its sheer size, it requires the successful companies be clever in their presentation. I often refer to these types of events having “elephants and dancing girls.” Intertraffic has them, in spades.
I wonder, however, if the attendees go to see new products and services, or go because they are expected to do so. I”m sure that if someone planned and sought out specific needs they would be rewarded, but as I watch the people wander by our booth, I was struck by how unengaged most were.
For me, Intertraffic is a great opportunity. I go to see customers. I seek out company VIPs and get an opportunity to see the people who provide promotional and advertising material for PT face to face. So in that regard, Intertraffic is, for me, a success.
Companies that plan their presentations at Intertraffic, set up meetings with customers on their huge stands, have conferences in their on stand conference rooms, get their money’s worth. Those that simply loiter around their booth and wait for someone to walk in, don’t.
People come back from Amsterdam with stories of not being able to remember how they got back to their hotel after hitting a dozen bars, or of wonderful meals in some of the world’s great restaurants. They tell stories of the Ryksmuseum, or the efficient tram system, or the tens of thousands of people on bicycles, or the canals, or, yes the fabled ‘red light district.’ They speak of parties that start at 10 PM and go on all night, or more intimate events held on a rented barge. Everyone has a story about fishing someone out of a canal (true or not) or how they did actually make it to the show on Thursday, after who knows what happened Wednesday night.
Super — The organizers of Intertraffic, a group called the RAI, have a great event, a great venue, and a great city. Its up to each attendee to make of it what they will.