IPMI 2023: Takeaways from My First IPMI Experience


By Tobias Marx

Reposted with permission from LinkedIn.

I have never considered myself a conference person. The idea of leaving my wife alone with our young children always made me feel uneasy. Besides, what could be so special about attending a conference?

However, as time passed and our children grew older, it seemed like the right year to attend #ipmi2023 . After spending three and a half days in Fort Worth, meeting numerous new people, and reconnecting with old friends, I can confidently say that I have become a conference enthusiast!

I had heard stories about conferences, but I had never experienced one firsthand. Well, IPMI certainly lived up to the hype, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

As a guy from Bend, Oregon, flying solo in Texas, I admit I was initially nervous. Would I feel awkward wandering the halls alone and attending sessions without knowing anyone? While I did receive invitations to events, receptions, and cocktail hours, I knew that many others had also received them. So, I had some concerns that I might spend most of my time between the convention center and my hotel room.

But then, something unexpected happened: I discovered the joy of interacting with parking people! If only everyone knew how much fun it is to engage with parking people like us, perhaps parkers would treat us differently.

Attending educational sessions was a truly exhilarating experience. I felt privileged to witness the passion and dedication of the speakers and presenters. My personal favorite were the Shoptalks. Who would have thought that a parking professional from a mid-sized city like mine had something valuable to contribute? Before IPMI, I believed that people like me were supposed to learn from the big cities. However, it was incredibly empowering to share experiences, provide feedback, answer questions, and, most importantly, be asked about my work. What a rewarding experience!

I was not only excited to connect with vendors I already knew and worked with, but I was also amazed by the warm welcome I received from those I had never spoken to before. The Expo Hall was filled with new and innovative solutions, and engaging in ideation sessions over dinner and sharing insights at the lunch table was a a lot of fun.

I attended IPMI without a specific agenda. I wasn’t searching for a new pay-station or access gate. Instead, I came for the overall experience. And IPMI exceeded my expectations, providing a remarkable and personal journey. The friendships and camaraderie I developed during this year’s IPMI are something I will cherish for a long time.

Tobias Marx is the Parking & Mobility Division Manager for the City of Bend, OR. He can be reached at tmarx@bendoregon.gov.