SWPTA and the Value of the Regional Association


SWPTA and the Value of the Regional Association

Brandy Stanley


The large national trade shows like the Parking Industry Exhibition, the International Parking & Mobility Institute, and the National Parking Association provide irreplaceable value for our industry including customers, consultants, operators, hardware and software vendors and everyone else involved in parking. They provide the opportunity for parking professionals to see what products and services are available, get access to high-quality educational sessions, meet new people and catch up with old friends. They give presenters and vendors a national platform to gain name recognition, advance careers, and showcase new products.


National shows, for anyone who has been to one, are also whirlwinds. With so many people from all over the world, it is difficult to slow down and have an in-depth conversation. Schedules are packed, and if you’ve been to a few shows or been in parking for a while, you know it’s hard to walk more than a few feet without saying hello to someone you know or wanted to talk to. Interruptions are constant. Hosting parties, attending parties, dinners, pre-scheduled meetings, the list of sessions you’ve marked to attend and so on, are overwhelming for many of us and organized chaos for all of us.


That’s why regional associations are so important to our industry. They provide a more intimate setting to build relationships and get in-depth information about products and services. If there is someone you want to catch up with or meet, you’ll see them again; there is no need to rush through a conversation to make sure your mission is accomplished. Regional associations tend to involve less travel and conference expenses and are, as a result, more accessible to local parking professionals who are at the beginning of their careers.


SWPTA is a prime example of how a great regional association can build on what the national trade shows provide. 


Location: One of SWPTA’s assets is Las Vegas, a vacation destination and conference mecca that always has something new to offer. Easy to get to, always something new, and SWPTA takes advantage of the extended vacation options attendees have.


Inclusivity: In its early days, SWPTA was composed of a few dedicated people who loved getting together and always welcomed new people with open arms. While the association is much bigger now, that remains a core value.


Educational Sessions: Educational sessions tend to draw from regional talent and are targeted to specific interests and concerns in the region. SWPTA focuses heavily on high quality speakers with interactive content to keep people engaged and in the room.


Sponsor Engagement: Without a traditional show floor and booth structure, sponsors are given time to present directly to the attendees, and presentations are fun, involve audience participation, prizes and often paid performers. The presentations keep people engaged and looking forward to seeing the creativity.


Vendor/Agency Ratio: SWPTA limits the number of sponsors and as a result the ratio of vendors to customers is extremely favorable. Customers aren’t bombarded with eager vendors, instead getting the time and space to make meaningful connections in a more intimate environment.


Evening Conference Event: SWPTA takes advantage of Las Vegas’ never-ending opportunities, where venues are within walking distance. This year, SWPTA is doing a throwback to the early conference days by hosting a scavenger hunt where attendees form teams and are led through several parking meters and area watering holes to find the association event. And the event itself includes a costume contest given the conference’s proximity to Halloween.


Top Golf: Since Top Golf opened in Las Vegas, the traditional golf outing has been transformed into a premier networking event. While there are many Top Golf locations, none are like the Las Vegas location and the pre-conference event is just as well attended as the actual conference.


Front Line Training: SWPTA also hosts training sessions for front line staff in various locations throughout the region. From Tucson to Phoenix to Salt Lake City to Denver, the association makes sure it focuses not just on the annual conference but also on sharing knowledge throughout the region.


Networking Events: There are several happy hours throughout the region during the year to help people stay in touch and continue to build those relationships, not to mention webinars that are sometimes educational and sometimes fun. The annual gingerbread garage contest started during the pandemic and has become a staple with some incredible entries. Favorite categories include “most realistic” and “tallest.”


People make lifelong friends and form relationships that follow them throughout their careers. It is a unique conference experience, as are all the regional conferences. Check for your regional association and get involved; you will grow as a parking professional, build great relationships and share knowledge with your peers.


SWPTA’s annual conference in Las Vegas is being held on October 23-25; registration is open and all are welcome! Register at: https://southwestparking.org/events. We offer free registration for first time agency attendees as well as the Warren Reynold Scholarship program for those who need help with expenses.


Brandy Stanley, CAPP, MBA is VP, State & Local Market Development for Flash Parking. She is also Secretary for the Southwest Parking & Transportation Association. Brandy can be reached at brandy.stanley@flashparking.com

October 2023

Article contributed by:
Brandy Stanley, Flash Parking
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