Allow me to introduce you to your State or Regional Associations. There are currently nineteen Parking and Transportation Associations representing professionals throughout the nation. Much like IPI, these associations’ mission is to advance the profession. In other words, the associations are bringing IPI home. One of the greater values an association provides is an annual conference. It is the hope that barriers to participating in these important learning and networking opportunities can be alleviated by bringing the event closer to the professional.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend or be part of planning several regional conferences and found the rewards to be countless. I’ve also found associations to be very innovative with conference programming. For example, the most recent conference I attended was hosted by the Southwest Parking Association (SWPA) this past October. Not unlike most associations, SWPA has recently set ambitious goals for increasing membership and level of service to members. The Board brainstormed on how they might achieve these goals and took a chance with a new conference format. The risks paid off for both vendors and attendees.

Some of the unique features included:

• All educational offerings were provided in a plenary format in the same room that meals were provided. Only one session was offered at a time.
• No vendor booths or tables. Instead each vendor had the opportunity to give a ten minute presentation “Power Pitch” to the entire audience during breakfast and lunch, attend the sessions and otherwise network freely during breaks and events.
• Held a “Swag Swap” at the very end of the conference and allowed vendors to take part. This helped to keep attendees engaged through the end of the conference.

For more information about your State and Regional Associations, please contact me at