“How was the show?’ PT Editor Sizes Up PIE and Intertraffic


“How was the show?’ PT Editor Sizes Up PIE and Intertraffic

As I write this, I just got back from the Intertraffic event in Amsterdam and PT’s Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) show in Chicago.  Everyone – friends, relatives, business associates, co-workers – asks 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’s something everyone says but they don’t want more than a few-words answer.
So, 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 given above.
Industry colleagues want a bit more. They may be looking for input so they can make a decision as to whether they should attend the next show. With that in mind, here are my answers.
PIE 2014 came first, in mid-March in Chicago.
The PIE show has impact. One person told me that it is “edited down to the real thing.” People attend to share information about parking. The seminars are taken from the topics that are on everyone’s mind: technology, and how it’s 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 actually 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 a good act, but I don’t really enjoy the parties and such events. Yet 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 the annual PIE shows because I’m supposed to go. I work for the company that puts them 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, however, 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 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 Amsterdam was held in The Netherlands the week after PIE 2014.
Intertraffic 2014 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.  At Intertraffic, there were nine.
Exhibitors spend much time and treasure preparing for this trade fair. It’s almost too much.  It lasts four days, and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That in itself tells you something.
The company that puts on this mega show has little interest in seminars or networking. It provides a place where 800 plus companies can display their wares and nearly 20,000 people can wander around with dazed looks on their faces.
Intertraffic is biennial; 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, Intertraffic requires that the successful companies be clever in their presentations. I often refer to these types of events as having “elephants and dancing girls.” Intertraffic has them, in spades.
I wonder, however, if its attendees go to see new products and services, or 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 watched the people wander by Parking Today booth, I was struck by how unengaged most seemed.
For me, Intertraffic is a great opportunity. I go to see customers. I seek out company VIP’s 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, and have conferences in their conference rooms, get their money’s worth. Those that simply loiter around their booths and wait for someone to walk in don’t.
People come back from Intertraffic Amsterdam with stories of not being able to remember how they got back to their hotels after hitting a dozen bars, or of wonderful meals in some of the world’s great restaurants. They tell stories of the national Rijksmuseum, or the city’s 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 p.m. and go on all night, or of 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 Amsterdam, a group called RAI, have a great event, a great venue, and a great city. However, it’s up to each attendee to make of it what they will.
Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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