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IPI Rocks Music City

IPI Rocks Music City with biggest conference and expo than ever before

By Kim Fernandez

This May, the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo offers more than ever before.

Nobody knows more about staying in tune than the people of Nashville, Tenn.—Music City, USA. And nobody knows more about staying in tune with parking than IPI, the biggest association of professionals in the industry. Put the two together, and it’s an unforgettable and invaluable experience, and it’s coming up next month. The 2016 IPI Conference & Expo, May 17–20, brings the most education and networking, the largest Expo in parking and transportation, and a complete professional tune-up for parking professionals to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center. You’ll harmonize with more than 3,500 peers from around the world (they’re coming from 45 countries!) and strike a chord while learning from industry leaders, engaging in high-energy sessions and roundtables, and soaking in real-world ideas and lessons you’ll take home to put to work for your organization and your career.

All of this is set against the remarkable background of Nashville, whose rich history and lively culture offer a visiting experience like no other city in the world. Ready for the parking event of the year? Read on for more information on this year’s plans, exciting events, and registration information. It’s time to tune up!

More Than Ever Before
The 2016 IPI Conference & Expo offers something for parking professionals in every segment of the industry. Whether you work in operations, management, planning and design, sustainability, or enforcement, you’ll find tremendous value in this year’s event. More than 45 education sessions in five tracks, inspiring keynotes that hit all the right notes, and the biggest parking-specific Expo in the world all combine with countless networking events to offer an invaluable experience.

No matter your industry experience or expertise, you’ll find lots of new ideas in Nashville next month, organized into five unique tracks of formal education:

  • Personal Development. Set your personal or professional goals, and understand the difference between book smarts and street smarts.
  • Technology & Innovation. If it’s new or coming down the pike, it’s here. Learn about the innovations and improvements that will affect your operation.
  • Finance & Auditing. By the numbers—if it’s part of your spreadsheets or bottom line, it’s part of this track.
  • Mobility & Alternative Transportation. Learn where you and your business fit into the new mobility equation and how to make the most of these trends.
  • Planning, Design, & Construction. Explore best practices and take a deeper dive into more complex topics that will help you plan, build, and maintain your facilities.

Specialize in one track for in-depth education, or pick and choose for a broader experience. And don’t miss the high-energy IGNITE session, where speakers deliver their messages in rapid-fire tempo for presentations that are concise and entertaining. Looking for more? Register for one of two in-depth, pre-Conference programs and learn to become either a Green Garage Assessor or APO Site Reviewer.

All IPI Conference education sessions offer CAPP points, and candidates can also register for two multi-day CAPP courses (University of Virginia Business Management and Behind the Fine Print: A Blueprint to Parking Management, Operations, and Regulations) offered on-site. Visit ipiconference.parking.org for registration information and details.

IPI keynote sessions are educational, inspiring, and high-energy, and this year is no exception. Meet Dennis Snow, a 20-year veteran of the Walt Disney Company, who has a passion for service excellence. Who in parking doesn’t want to provide the best customer experience possible? Snow presents “Learning a Culture of Service Excellence,” focusing on developing a service excellence strategy, executing it, cultivating buy-in and dedication from employees, and highlighting specific leadership behaviors that help hardwire excellence into an organization’s culture (see p. 26 for more).

Jump into the Park Tank™
Did you catch last year’s IPI Park Tank competition? Based on television’s popular “Shark Tank,” this is where entrepreneurs and innovators face tough parking “sharks” to try and get their dreams off the ground. This year, it’s a General Session, and you won’t want to miss the excitement! Last year’s contestants say Park Tank gave their companies huge boosts (See p. 44 in the February issue of The Parking Professional for more), and this year’s expect even more. The competition is fierce, and it’s going to be exhilarating.

The Networking!
IPI Conference & Expo veterans know there’s no networking like IPI networking—where else are the industry’s top leaders, biggest innovators, and most connected professionals together in one place, ready for a conversation day or night? This year’s event promises even more unparalleled opportunities to get to know your peers from around the world and tap into their expertise in structured events, outdoor activities, or casually walking in the halls. A few highlights:

  • A day of fun and introduction awaits you Tuesday, May 17, from golf to walking/running to Nashville tours (even on Segways!) and paddleboarding or ziplining.
  • First-time attendees and new IPI members can get to know each other on Wednesdsay, May 18, and Thursday, May 19, in casual events designed to get you oriented to the Conference and introduce you to new friends.
  • A Taste of Nashville, this year’s opening welcome event, takes you to the Grand Ole Opry for a reception and show like no other city can deliver (this is a two-part event; the second half at the Opry requires separate ticketing).
  • IPI’s Young Professionals in Parking (YPIP) will enjoy a special mixer, Beer, Ball, & BBQ, complete with a baseball game!
  • State & Regional Associations welcome their friends to a beer garden mixer that kicks off the Nashville experience in great style at a fabulous downtown location.

Be sure to make time to connect with new and old friends from parking at these events and lots more opportunities for networking. This is real value-added, and it’s only at IPI.

The Expo
It’s the biggest and best parking Expo in the world, and this year offers more exhibitors, products, services, innovations, technologies, and ideas than ever before, all in one massive 170,000-square-foot space (bigger than the famous Ryman Auditorium!).

Going green? It’s easy to find Green Star program exhibitors, featuring sustainable products and services, by looking for special markers on the show floor, right in front of designated booths.

Looking for in-depth insight? That’s easy too. TECHtalks are 45-minute-long presentations on the show floor that will explain different technologies and the best ways to implement them in your operations for the biggest bang.

This is that huge show your colleagues use to improve their businesses, customer service, and the bottom line. It’s the best place to see everything new under one roof, and with more than 12 hours of Expo time, you’ll be able to fully explore any future purchasing decisions. See p. 38 for a complete listing of this year’s exhibitors and to start planning your experience.

Spotlighting the Brightest
Need more inspiration? Join IPI in recognizing this year’s CAPP graduating class, Awards of Excellence, Professional Recognition Program awards, and Marketing & Communications Awards winners in presentations that will warm your heart and give you some great ideas you can put to work at home. This year, Certified Green Garage and Accredited Parking Organization (APO) leaders will also be highlighted—you’ll definitely find new ideas here.

Music City
As always, the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo takes place in a vibrant city—Nashville, Tenn., birthplace of so much of your favorite music and an experience unto itself. With fantastic restaurants, an unbelievable music scene for both up-and-comers and already-famous singers and songwriters, and charming shops and historical attractions, Nashville has something for everyone.

Did you Know:

  • Nashville’s United Records is one of only four remaining vinyl record manufacturers in the U.S.
  • The Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, is widely considered the best theater in the nation.
  • Jazz and rock play a huge part of Nashville’s music history. Greats that include Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Etta James, and B.B. King played in local clubs.
  • Oprah Winfrey was raised in Nashville.
  • Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first to be readmitted when fighting ended.
  • Three Presidents—Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson—were from Tennessee.
  • Goo Goo Clusters, considered the nation’s oldest combination candy bar and a Southern icon, are produced by the Standard Candy Company, which can make 20,000 every hour.
  • The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, has a driveway in the shape of a guitar.
  • The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the world’s only exact replica of its famous Greek namesake.
  • The radio program now known as the Grand Ole Opry was founded in 1925 by the National Life & Accident Insurance Company.

Elvis Presley recorded more than 250 songs at RCA’s Studio B on Nashville’s Music Row. The red, blue, and green lights still in the studio were left over from one of his Christmas albums—the crew installed them and cranked the air conditioning as low as it would go to
get the famous musician in the holiday spirit when recording in July.

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center contains nine acres of indoor gardens, complete with a 44-foot waterfall, and is the largest non-gaming property in the U.S.

Nashville has more than 120 live-music venues. Those that play music four or more nights a week have guitarpick-shaped “Live Music Venue” signs.

Ready for the single best parking event of the year? Don’t miss the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo—we’ve only scraped the surface of all the excitement and value. For more information, Conference registration, and everything you need to reserve your room at the Gaylord Opryland, visit IPIConference.parking.org—don’t wait! We can’t wait to welcome you to Nashville!

KIM FERNANDEZ is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org.

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Facing the Sharks

by Kim Fernandez 

Last year’s IPI Park Tank™ contestants say the competition was fierce but came with huge benefits to their fledgeling companies.

ARE YOU READY TO JUMP INTO THE PARK TANK™? IPI launched its live game show, modeled after television’s “Shark Tank,” at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas and gave five parking entrepreneurs the chance to wow industry judges and launch their companies right there on stage. The event was popular with both fledgling companies and the audience in Las Vegas—so much so that a second Park Tank will happen at the 2016 IPI Conference in Nashville, Tenn., this May—but what happened to the entrepreneurs who jumped into the tank?

In a word: lots. After receiving great publicity to valuable feedback from judges and audience members after the show, the people who faced the judges and presented their ideas under the hot lights on stage say Park Tank was a fantastic springboard for their products and companies and they’d do it again in a heartbeat (your chance is coming up quickly—more on that in a few minutes!).

The Winners
Few attendees of last year’s Conference in Las Vegas will forget Smarking: From the clever name to the seamless live presentation its leaders presented at Park Tank, the company made a huge impression that’s continued growing since then.

“Outsmart your spreadsheet,” says the company, and its Park Tank presentation made a big splash. Company CEO Wen Sang says he knew Park Tank was a great idea as soon as he heard it, and he quickly applied for one of its five spots.

“The experience exceeded our expectations by far,” he says. “The setup of the event was quite amazing—it felt like a real TV show! It was also well-attended and did a lot for our business.”

Sang says he applied for Park Tank for three main

  • To learn about the industry from great people, including
    judges, peers, and audience experts.
  • To become a member of the parking community and
    begin to make industry friends.
  • To introduce Smarking to industry owners and

“We are a company with a new technology and solution,” says Sang. “We need the critics and advice from the industry to refine and improve. Park Tank was the best opportunity for that as it gathered the best professional minds and technology pioneers and enthusiasts together.”

From the first time he heard about it, says Sang, he knew the game-show format and live audience presented an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “Park Tank is the best ideas and product release publicity opportunity for Smarking as it has cross-sector and international exposure,” he says.

Other Participants
Smarking was just one of five Park Tank participants last year, and all said their experiences were worth the effort of putting together presentations and facing tough questions on stage.

“I was immediately excited about Park Tank when I was informed about it,” says Jeremy Crane, founder, StadiumPark, which offers a mobile app that gives users access to stadium and special-event parking. “I saw Park Tank as a very unique, innovative, and fun event. It was a great opportunity to showcase StadiumPark in front of parking professionals and investors.”

Brian Mitchell, founder of Advanced Parking Analytic Solutions, had a similar reaction. “One of the more difficult issues I have had in presenting our concept is the fact that it is very new and unproven,” he says. “The Park Tank at IPI has given the concept of analytics a great deal of credibility in the parking industry. As a result of the presentation, companies have been much more receptive to the concept of analytics.”

Participants said preparing for the event was a challenge— while they knew how television’s “Shark Tank” worked, there was no way to tell what parking judges might want to know about their ideas.

Crane says he spent time preparing his marketing materials for the judges and having them printed onto the on-stage displays for audience viewing. He also carefully scripted his remarks and practiced over and over to ensure they hit the mark in the allotted time.

All of the prep, he says, was definitely worth it in the end. “It was even better than I expected,” he says. “I thought the time, effort, and production put into the event was superb. The judges and companies chosen were great! As a result, I feel as though I got great exposure and made relationships that are valuable to this day.”

Mitchell says he was surprised when judges wanted to focus more on his business plan than the soundness of his basic concept; most investors, he says, want to know about the idea of analytics. “The judges already understood the value of analytics,” he says. “If I could do it all over, I would create a more sound business plan and spend less time convincing people of the value of analytics.”

Sang took a bit of a different approach. His company had already worked with Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley venture-capital company that accelerates the value of startups, and received some training from that establishment, following in the footsteps of such firms as Airbnb and Dropbox. That experience, he says, gave him some ideas of what Park Tank judges might ask. Then, he says, “We rehearsed our pitch many, many times.” While it wasn’t hard to talk about Smarking’s ideas, doing so in a short period of time was a challenge.

“The hardest part was making sure we conveyed the goal of our business without running out of time,” he says.

Since Then

What’s happened to the participating entrepreneurs since the show last summer? A lot—all of them say participating in Park Tank gave their ideas terrific legs.

“Since the IPI Conference has given me credibility, selling the concept to operators has been much easier,” says Mitchell. “I am working with operators in the sea to gain more insight to the type of information they need to make the product more marketable. The long-term goal is to create a software program that can provide my customers a user-friendly method of turning data into revenue-generating business decisions.”

“We have had collaboration offers from several large companies,” says contestant Santanu Dutta, Transparent Wireless Systems, LLC., who says Park Tank gave his new company great visibility. “These discussions are ongoing.”

Crane says participating in Park Tank gave him similar benefits. “StadiumPark continues to grow and progress each day,” he says. “Since the competition, we have been talking and meeting with venues throughout the U.S. We have continued to develop our application, which is more user-friendly and robust than ever before. We expect to begin service at a number of venues and raise our first round of institutional capital in the first two quarters of 2016.”

What about Smarking, which emerged victorious from the 2015 Park Tank? Sang says life is good.

“Our company has experienced a tremendous amount of traction,” he says. “As a new entrant to the parking industry, Park Tank provided a stage for us to share our business with many parking professionals. To date, IPI members still email or contact us simply because they remembered our pitch at Park Tank.”

Sang says the visibility of the event was great for his company, even more so because it won. “Winning the event provided us a certain credibility that provided a tremendous boost to our company,” he says. “On a personal level, we made great friends with lots of folks in the community and have felt beloved since then—this is indeed tremendous to an early-stage tech company like Smarking. Not every industry can provide such love to younger generations.”

KIM FERNANDEZ is the editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org. 

TPP-2016-02 Facing the Sharks