There seems to be no question that the NPA Convention and Trade event last week was a grand success. Numbers were up, exhibitors were smiling, and there was an ‘energy’ on the trade show floor.
“This is the best NPA Show ever” commented one wag. “Its exciting, its bubbling, there is business going on.” OK, I felt it too. But why?
I won’t take away from Christine Banning and her NPA crew. They did a fantastic job tweaking the event and making adjustments to help both exhibitors and attendees alike. They are to be commended. But there was something else. Something I didn’t feel at the NPA in Chicago last year or at the IPI in Dallas in May.
There was excitement. There was vigor. People were engaged.
In addition to Christine’s magic, there were two driving forces at the NPA this year.
First, the parking business, that is the business of selling ‘stuff’ to parking owners and operators is booming. When I walked the floor last year and asked how business was going, I got a shrug or a “meh”. “Its ok” Its Fine. This year I got . “Super.” “Fantastic.” “Best in years.”
The feeling is that parking is back. We see it in our business. Vendors are investing in their companies because they are selling. That means the folks in the booths at the NPA weren’t just going through the paces. They were excited. They were making deals.
The Second reason is demographic. As I looked around the floor I saw a new generation staffing the exhibits. As I looked at the people in the booth next to us I noted to a colleague that the women seemed like they were 14 years old. She told them what I said and they laughed and said they were 24.
The influx of software and web based companies has brought an influx of youth. I would guess that at least a third and maybe more of the people in the exhibits were under 35. And many under 30. Youth brings energy, and energy brings excitement, and excitement brings sales.
As you walked around the hall, you saw these young entrepreneurs and their staffs literally bouncing on the balls of their feet. Their enthusiasm was contagious. More than once I had to tell someone to ‘slow down a bit’ so I could keep up.
Our industry is giving birth to a new generation, not only on the street but also in the board room. The baton hasn’t been passed, its been snatched out of our hands.
I’ll comment later on whether this is a good or a bad thing, but there is no question that it exists. You could feel it at the NPA Show. Do you know that there was a party that STARTED at 10 PM?