Have your PIE and Eat it, too
It’s PIE time and that means parking folks of all kinds are gathering for the Parking Industry Expo. What’s better than being around people, traveling, and sharing meetings and meals after two years of “the covid”?
It has been an experience, to say the least, and I won’t make predictions, but I feel like the weight of the Covid-era is starting to lift. When life is challenging, I remind myself that I made it through two tough pregnancies (also, financial setbacks, dentist appointments, and food poisoning) with this daily mantra: “One day this will be over.” I’ve told myself the same thing throughout the pandemic – though by now it’s been long enough to have gestated an elephant.
It’s time to celebrate the end of a crappy days and enjoy a full-fledged, fully loaded, fully staffed, in-person tradeshow. Reno looks to offer a great time all around – venue, speakers, parties, exhibits and more – but consider a list of survival techniques I’ve collected from my colleagues and friends:
1. Prepare for lines. They might be long, they might be short, but there will be lines. There will be lines for credentials, for room keys, for meals, for taxis and for exhibit-area consultations. Be patient. Chat with your fellow tradeshow-goers – you’re there to meet people.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. Concrete floors start out hard and get harder as the day passes. Loiter in the fancy booths that have plush carpeting.
3. Exercise restraint when it comes to free stuff (except for food; see No. 4). Don’t take every free thing set out on a table (and don’t assume everything set out on a table is free). Your kids don’t need 5 Frisbees. Any swag you grab is another thing you’re going to have to carry around all day, put in your suitcase at the end of the show, and donate to Goodwill when you get home. Choose carefully.
4. Chow down on free food. The Expo’s organizers and exhibitors want you to enjoy yourself, stay hydrated, and eat well. If you have a good experience, you will come back, so they are sure to offer perks like free food and drinks. Don’t embarrass yourself, but dig in.
5. Get outside for a few minutes every day. Even if it’s chilly, you need a little fresh air so your lungs and skin don’t dry up completely. Consider hitting the gym or pool at the Grand Sierra Resort.
6. Choose classes and lectures ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute is the best way to end up standing in the hall scratching your head. Speed Networking has limited entry and gets rave reviews every year. The good news is a complete schedule for PIE is located on page 44 of this very magazine.
7. Charge your phone every night. Buy a portable charger if you think you might need it.
8. Find yourself a nook. If possible, locate a quiet place to sit and eat a snack or read a brochure. If you can’t be relied on to accomplish No. 7, make it a spot with an unguarded outlet.
9. Wash your hands often. Normal life still includes germs and you don’t want to go home with Covid, a cold, or a stomach bug (see the intro).
10. Think of Queen Elizabeth II walking around her own home/palace/castle/summerhouse, etc. with a purse. When you leave your room, you need a little bag of essentials: credentials, ID, wallet, cash, Chapstick, a couple of Tylenol, a squeezer of hand sanitizer (see No. 9), pen, notebook, and emergency granola bar.
11. If there’s someone at home waiting for you to call, do it. Excuses like “It was too hectic” and “My cell coverage was bad” or “My battery died” (see No. 7) are not appreciated.
12. Find Parking Today’s publisher John Van Horn, or its Creative Director Astrid Ambroziak, or Expo Director Marcy Sparrow and shoot the breeze. On second thought, just look for John and Astrid – Marcy will be busy looking good while making the whole thing happen.
13. Take pictures – good ones, and send them to Parking Today. We might just print them.
14. Go bowling. One of the many activities PIE has to offer is bowling - and it’s a sport that’s just as fun to play well as it is to play badly. Luncheons, banquets, award ceremonies and cocktail parties are a few of the other opportunities to choose from.
15. Get out of your head. Meet people, make friends. Relish your job, your health, your safety, and your freedom. Have fun. But not too much fun.