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In Person Events are Happening Now

Planning for events like PIE takes months. We can’t just wake up July first and say, “OK, let start thinking about what we are doing at PIE.” We have been working on this since last year. But we are not alone. Event after event are in the planning stages, and scheduled for the near future.

San Diego, for instance, has six events scheduled for its convention center between June 1 and July 30. These exhibitions will attract over 35,000 people. The huge construction event, World of Concrete, will be held in Las Vegas in June. More than 60,000 people will be in attendance.

Fifteen events are happening in Orlando alone between now and the end of July. You can imagine the number of families that will be attending those shows, as well as visiting with Mickey and Donald.

According to Texas Highways magazine more than 200 events attended by as few as a couple of hundred people to more than 5,000 will be held between now and the end of July in Texas.  Over 250 events of all sizes are scheduled for Georgia during the same time period. I could go on and on and if you are interested, Google a state name and ‘exhibitions’ and see what’s happening.

Thousands of events have been rescheduled over the past year. Many have been cancelled, others have gone virtual. The feedback we have received from those attending virtual events of all types have been less than stellar. Let’s face it, nothing can replace ‘face to face.’

With the advent of vaccines, herd immunity, and the precipitous drop in Covid cases, event planners are getting a move on and states are welcoming visitors. I know it can be scary but even the “if it bleeds it leads” media is beginning to post positive news about life getting back to normal. And quickly.

Events like those mentioned above are just the ‘shot in the arm’ (pun intended) we need to return to a normal business footing. And it can happen quickly. The positive looks on the vendors faces will turn the malaise of the past year into action.

See you in Dallas in July.


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Is the Way We Do Business Permanently Changing, I Don’t Think So

I had a discussion yesterday with a senior member of the management team of a company that has been hard hit by the pandemic. His customers are related to the air travel industry and naturally as air travel goes, so goes his bottom line. Frankly he is reeling and struggling to save his company.

He told me that his frustration comes from what he sees as a great shift in business travel. He felt that businesses were permanently moving from face to face meetings and therefore companies like his, that rely on business travel, would continue to suffer and must hunker down and make severe internal changes for their survival.

He then added parenthetically that he himself was personally frustrated by being ‘locked down’ and was looking forward to ‘getting out there’ and in fact had taken a couple of trips recently.

I mentioned that his software company was full of people who were in the generation and business sector that were familiar with and had the tools to work from home and use communication techniques including Zoom and Microsoft teams as a manner of course. Although he wasn’t located in California, he might as well have been from Silicon Valley. He agreed.

I pointed out, however, that it was curious that major high tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google had continued their physical expansion around the country building large office complexes to house their employees. I wondered, if his concerns about a paradigm shift in how we were going to do business was correct, why these monster corporations were continuing their physical expansion.

Was it possible that managers were doing more than reading Inc. Magazine and Wired and understanding that face to face conversations were extremely important and the innovation that took place around the water cooler could not be duplicated online. My wife is a former senior executive with the American Red Cross. She traveled extensively for the company. She told me that there was no way Zoom would replace the face to face meetings in which she participated. “It is simply not possible to communicate the same way online as you do face to face. It may take some time for companies to realize this, but they will.”

Travel will be back sooner rather than later. United Airlines just bought a number of 737 Max from Boeing. Delta announced that it was doing away with its “middle seat open” policy next month. Every flight I have taken in the past two months, and every flight anyone on my staff has taken, has been full.

My concerned friend above acknowledged that the TSA numbers were up this past month, the highest level since early last year.

Is travel ‘back’ to levels of 2019. Nope. But is the trend in the right direction, a resounding yes. State after state are loosening their social distancing requirements. Some say this may be happening too quickly, but it is happening. People are beginning to take action. They are simply tired of not being able to act like people. Schools are reopening, and that will allow moms and dads to go back to work in the office. The opening of restaurants will see valet operations reopen and garages begin to refill. Luncheon meetings will be back. On street parking will be back and cities will see their revenues increase.

Mark my words people want to return to normal, not a ‘new’ normal, but face to face, hand shaking, discussion, argument, innovation, bouncing ideas, and camaraderie. And its happening.


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Covid Routed

When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.

One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

This quote is from an article in the Atlantic written by Zeynep Tufekci, contributing writer at The Atlantic. It is in my opinion, the best article written that summarizes the problems we have had over the past year in dealing with the pandemic. Please read it here.

A colleague tells me that “its not what we say, its how we say it.” Practically every paragraph tells a part of the story and is quotable. Here is one of the best:

Part of the problem with the vaccines was the timing—the trials concluded immediately after the U.S. election, and their results got overshadowed in the weeks of political turmoil. The first, modest headline announcing the Pfizer-BioNTech results in The New York Times was a single column, “Vaccine Is Over 90% Effective, Pfizer’s Early Data Says,” below a banner headline spanning the page: “BIDEN CALLS FOR UNITED FRONT AS VIRUS RAGES.” That was both understandable—the nation was weary—and a loss for the public.

I would that that the Old Gray Lady would get beyond “If it bleeds it leads” but I guess not. How much damage do the layout editors and headline writers in newspapers do to the national psyche? It is incalculable.

Tufekci goes on to quote doctor after doctor, scholar after scholar, health official after health official and their inconsistencies, daily flip flops, and problems in communications that led us to where we are today.

Unfortunately this is a problem that cannot be unwound quickly. We have had a year of it, and to overcome it, we must reach inward and trust our own thoughts and common sense. Look out the window, believe your eyes and lead your life.

I can’t say it strongly enough, read this article in the Atlantic. I finish this with here last paragraph:

Hope will get us through this. And one day soon, you’ll be able to hop off the subway on your way to a concert, pick up a newspaper, and find the triumphant headline: “COVID Routed!”


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Its Happening…

Word has come that Texas, home for PIE 2021, has opened its restaurants, businesses, and convention centers, much like Florida, South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi, and Georgia.  It joins about 10 other states removing mask requirements. I expect more news like this to be appearing every day. People are excited, they want to fly, they want to meet face to face, and its happening.

The President has announced that by the end of May, there will be enough vaccine available to inoculate everyone in the country. That’s months earlier that had been projected. California (That’s CALIFORNIA) has announced that many of its major cities including San Francisco can begin indoor dining. It is impossible for me not to see that we have turned a huge corner.

The numbers are down, 20% in the last two weeks, 70% in the last month.

I realize that we have been bombarded with negative and fearful information about the pandemic and I can only imagine how you are feeling now. What is the risk? Will I get sick? Frankly I can’t answer that. I can however tell you one thing. If we continue the way we are we will continue to live lives that we don’t want to live. Now it the time to break out of the mold of the past year and renew old friendships, make new ones, and rebuild our organizations, our relationships, and our lives.


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EVs Still are only 2% of our Transportation Fleet

I have been editing an article written by the EV charging industry about the potential for electric vehicles during the upcoming decades. One comment caught my eye. Whereas gas vehicle owners tend to fill up only when they are under a quarter tank, EV owners like to keep their charge as high as possible and tend to charge their cars two or three times a day.

Is it just me, or is that last sentence a major reason NOT to buy an EV, at least until battery technology catches up with demand. If it takes upwards to an hour (or even 20 minutes)  to fully charge your EV (that’s with the best charger) are you willing to invest that time and search for a charging station a couple of times a day?

I can whip in and fill up my Belchfire V8 in what, five minutes and I’m off to the races. You don’t hear the term ‘range anxiety’ any more, since the main stream media is locked in to promoting EVs. Fair enough.

The concept of the article is to promote charging stations in your parking facility. The project that a million stations will be needed by 2030. There are 100,000 now. That number supports about a million EVs on the road today. They expect that number to skyrocket to 19,000,000 in the next 9 years. Let’s put it in perspective.

The number of EVs on the road today equals just about 2% of the total cars on the road. Two Percent.

My betters here in California are passing laws to prevent sales of gas powered vehicles by 2035. They are going to completely change the desires of the consumers by force of law moving from 2% of the market, to 100% in 14 years. Wow.

Remember, in that 14 years they not only have to be able to cause auto companies to manufacture EVs at that rate, they have to have the infrastructure in place to charge them. That includes not only the charging stations themselves, but also the massive electricity infrastructure upgrade to provide the power to run them. Fourteen years. We can barely keep the lights on now. Oh well, these are just details.

Keep in mind that world wide the sales of EVs is less than 3% of auto sales. It sits right at 2% in the US, with more than half of those in California. If you live in most states, don’t expect EV sales to boom or skyrocket.

Look out the window – count the EVs you see on the road, and then remember that the ones that will be using your charging stations are the pure electric vehicles, and not the ones that are hybrid who have gasoline back up so they can charge their cars overnight at home.

There is one more thing to keep in mind. Gasoline in California averages a dollar a gallon more than the same product in most other states. That’s all tax and other folderol that adds to the cost. When we are forced to switch to EV, who is going to pay all that tax? Will people who bought EVs be so quick to do so when they find out that driving them won’t be so much cheaper after they have to pay for the electricity and then pay the road use tax that the state will slap on them.

I’m with the charging station manufacturers. Let’s be ready. Install the stations as you see the need. In California maybe it will attract more parkers to your garage. I’m not so sure about Texas.



PT Plus

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Is Multi-tasking All its Cracked Up to Be?

‘I know the Zoom call was shaky – it was probably because someone has a slow internet connection.  No problem, I was multi-tasking anyway.’

Wow  It there was ever an indictment of so called multi-tasking it was this. Why have a meeting at all.

I thought the purpose of meetings was to communicate ideas and to get people on board with certain concepts. How can you do that when half the people at the meeting are dividing their time between the zoom call and checking email, finishing reports, and gasp, dare I say it, working social media.

I was at a technology meeting last year in Las Vegas. The panels were pitching some very interesting concepts dealing with tech and parking. There were some pretty high rollers speaking including folks from Volkswagen, Google, Apple and the like. These companies will have a great impact on our industry in the years to come.

I glanced around my table and noticed that every person sitting there was on their smart phone, tapping away madly. It was world class multi-tasking. I wondered why they came to the meeting at all. Not only was it rude to the speakers, but a waste of the attendees time and money. When I’m a speaker, I don’t let the audience get by this multi-tasking. I walk around the room and stand in front of those working on their phones until they notice me and stop.

I defy anyone to prove to me that they can do three things at once and do their best work on all three. I think we are being suckered in by the “Zoom” and Pandemic generation.

If you want to turn out your best work, close the door, turn off the phone, and focus. If you are having a meeting, have a meeting, dammit. Zoom and concalls simply don’t cut it. You need to see the people in the meeting and you need to see their reactions and get their responses in real time. Plus they deserve the respect that comes from enabling them to actually interrupt from time to time and get their words and ideas in edgewise. Sometimes a sharp response or a quick argument isn’t a bad thing.

I think we are using the pandemic as an excuse to not have face to face, focused meetings. Read about the pandemic on page 22. Case rates are down up to 70%. Doctors are saying that herd immunity could be in place as early as April. Isn’t it time to get back to business? Isn’t it time to get your folks back into the office and focused on what you are paying them to do?


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Hospitals and ERs in Los Angeles

I took a ‘look out the window’ report on the Hospitals in the Los Angeles area. Two weeks ago the headlines were telling us that doomsday was just around the corner and Covid was going to overwhelm the healthcare system.

According to an employee of the famed Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who has asked to be anonymous for obvious reasons, the hospital is currently as busy as it has ever been. But not with CV patients. “Sure there is the odd heart surgery and the like, but we are now overwhelmed with elective plastic surgery,” he said.  “We have the time and the room, so people are scheduling their surgery as fast as they can.”

This is fantastic news. Our health care system is getting back to normal. You know what that mean, Covid is going away. This is completely unscientific, and the CDC doesn’t make predictions…well not accurate ones, anyway, but its another indication that we have turned the corner.

You read it here first, and will probably never see it on social media, or the mainstream press. We just can’t let a good crisis go to waste, or end.


By the Way, all your Karens out there. Don’t bother beating me up over this post. It won’t do any good. 🙂

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Open Schools, Stop the Domino Affect

It seems that many areas around the country have ‘met’ the requirement to open schools but have not because ‘teachers and staff have not been vaccinated.’ This is so much gobbledygook. With the stroke of a pen, a governor, mayor, or other official could prioritize teachers and staff.

The point is that the number of new Covid cases is falling like a stone. We are down to 25 per hundred thousand in Los Angeles. What little crowding there were in hospital emergency rooms has dissipated in just a couple of weeks. Restaurants are opening up (outside at least). NOW is the time to get schools back open.

It’s the closed schools that have so greatly affected our economy and through it, the parking industry. Schools are closed so:

  • Someone has to stay home with the kids.
  • They can’t go out to work, shop, meet friends
  • They can’t go for coffee or shop after dropping kids off
  • The stores they would have visited suffer
  • The shopping centers suffer
  • The parking facilities that support those businesses suffer
  • On street parking suffers
  • City parking revenue suffers
  • The parking facilities that support the businesses where the moms and dads forced to stay home with kids work suffer.

And it goes on and on.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone there are over three quarters of a million students and teachers. That doesn’t count another 100,000 staff. Consider the number of parents who cannot participate in the economy because the schools are closed. Certainly in LA alone its over half a million. One wonders what the economy would look like if that half a million could participate in it.

Let’s not forget the kids.

The harm that has been done to children by keeping them from school is incalculable. It’s not just the fact that they aren’t learning their reading, writing and arithmetic, but socially they are being allowed to atrophy to the point that their interpersonal skills are becoming nonexistent. They are simply an extension of their computer or smart phone. Kids not fortunate enough to have computers are missing class altogether. This has to stop.

I have a plan to get all teachers inoculated in a week. Set up a number of inoculation teams, enough to do 20% of the schools each day. (Each school probably already has part of a team in place, don’t they have school nurses anymore?) Have the teachers and staff report to the school and get their inoculations. Surely a team with the vaccine can inoculate all the staff of any school in one day. Then the team moves on to the next school. In one week all the teachers and staff will be vaccinated. I figure a week to set up the program, a week to inoculate, and we are in business.

No, wait. We can’t do that; we have to inoculate all the cannabis delivery drivers first.


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Bonnie Watts Resigns at IPMI

Bonnie Watts, longtime VP of Marketing and head of their Trade Shows has resigned her position at the IPMI. Bonnie had been with the organization for 32 years. Anyone who has exhibited at an IPMI event knows Bonnie and has worked with her. The success of these events should be credited in large part to her efforts.

We wish Bonnie well in her future endeavors.


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