By Shawn Conrad, CAE
Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. I love the tapestry of colors you see when walking through the woods, I get ready to follow the MLB playoffs and World Series, and I look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, when my extended family converges on our house to catch up on life and give thanks.
This fall season is very special to us at IPMI in that it marks our first in-person Conference & Expo since we were together in Anaheim, Calif., in 2019. That seems like an eternity ago. While we’ve enjoyed the virtual events we’ve held during the past 18 months, there is nothing like seeing and talking with friends and colleagues in an event where collaboration occurs on the Expo floor, the education sessions, or even as we share a beverage.
When we moved the 2021 Conference & Expo in Tampa from June to Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, we made a calculated decision to give our members more time to recover from the turmoil the pandemic caused, and we were hopeful that the effects of COVID-19 would have lessened so attendees would feel comfortable gathering again. We certainly did not have a crystal ball to help us look into the future and know what conditions would be at the end of this year, but conversations with the IPMI Board of Directors and other leaders gave us some comfort that delaying the event was in the best interest of our attendees.
So now we find ourselves just a month away from Tampa and the response for this event has been overwhelmingly positive. We went into planning this meeting expecting about one-third of our typical attendance and I am very happy to report we have reached this milestone; we look forward to greeting everyone and helping them get the most out of this jam-packed event. It’s also been eye-opening to hear from so many that they’re joining us but need to wait to register until new budgets are in place. While we downsized things a little this year, those attending are going to find all the things they love about this year’s event from past shows: lots of exhibitors, a plethora of education offerings, and plenty of networking opportunities–and lots of fun.
For those who are not able to attend this year, we understand. It’s actually been very humbling to hear from colleagues who are not able to attend in 2021 but wanted us to know they will be there in spirit and are making plans to join us in New Orleans in 2022. What comes to mind when I and others on staff chat with these members is a 1980s advertisement for a hotel chain voiced by Tom Bodett, who coined the phrase, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” That’s how we feel about the close-knit IPMI parking & mobility community: We are here for you, regardless of your circumstances or your travel plans. Stay well.
Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.