FPTA: A Magical Way to End 2022
I always felt there is something magical about the month of December.
Maybe because it’s my birthday month, maybe because of the Christmas traditions in my family when I was a child, or just because it’s the end of year.
The end of the year means taking some time to think about what we have achieved, what we could have done better, our objectives for the following year, and what can we improve to make our dreams come true, or at least try to realize some of them.
The FPTA Trade show and Conference has something of this magic.
Since I started working in Parking, I felt that there is a sort of family ambiance. You spend time with the same people in different places over the year and each time it is a pleasure to share some smiles and experiences.
Last week in Palm Beach, in the middle of Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs and Parking discussions, it felt like a holiday family reunion under the Floridian sun. I enjoyed learning from the speakers about innovation ideas for next year, chatting with exhibitors to find out what they are providing to make parking better, having free time to brainstorm, and taking the time to summarize 2022 and its achievements.
The entire association did an amazing job organizing this conference, taking care of all the details, and providing the best support for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees. I must mention Dawn Marti who really put her heart into this and we could all easily see it.
Since the moment we arrived at the beautiful PGA National Resort, we felt that this year something was better, probably because last year we still had some pandemic fears, but this time it just seemed perfect.
I don’t play golf but I heard that everybody had a great time and they were able to avoid the rain.
We had a very interesting tour of the West Palm Beach Parking operations, which was innovative and impressively organized. Again, I believe we all felt a passion from these people who have been working for more than 15 years to provide excellence for their parking customers.
After the tour we had an Opening event on the exhibition floor (btw, the cheese was really good) where we were able to handshake with all our peers and catch up on the latest news. I was impressed in seeing many people coming from out of Florida, even from Canada, South America or New York.
I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions, but in the ones I did attend, I heard interesting questions for the speakers and a deep engagement from the audiences.
The board did a great job choosing the topics, from innovative technologies like EV Charging, Curbside Management and Gateless operations, to very basic themes, like “Why parking costs money?” which seems obvious but is not. Julie Dixon and Kerri Wyatt focused on the challenges of Parking enforcement. As vendors, we sometimes concentrate too much on our technology and we forget the day-to-day activity of parking enforcers who have to “fight” to explain why parking costs money (sometimes yes and sometimes no).
Innovation was a recurring subject during the sessions, starting from the Keynote Speaker Greg Chavarria (City Manager, City of Fort Lauderdale) who pushed each one of us to find innovation inside us, and gather the energy to make things better. The same energy we were able to see in action at the West Palm Beach Parking operations.
The Conference ended with a local outdoor “Havana night party,” the perfect ending of a magical time.
A live Cuban band, professional dancers, Cuban hats and cigars, domino tables… were just some of the details that made this party special. Nobody wanted to leave when it ended, which is the best way to measure the success of a party. The dancers invited people to the dance floor, while “the Floridians” were playing dominos with their Cuban hats and a perfect Mojito or cigar in their hands.
One of the nicest things I realized was that most of people planned ahead and came with a colorful outfit for the “Havana night.” It was an added touch that was highly appreciated by the organizing committee.
I hope to see you all in 2023 to repeat this “Parking family tradition” of ending the year under the Floridian sun enjoying a good time all together and preparing to make Parking even better.
Laura Caillot is general manager at Survision. She can be reached at Laura.Caillot@survisiongroup.com