I’ve been involved with LCT Magazine and its trade shows since 1991, so you would think they all kind of blur together by now. I must admit the years seem to quickly run together. This year’s Show, however, will always stand out, not just for its silver anniversary celebration but because of its unique timing amid some of the most challenging circumstances I’ve ever seen.
I had planned to share this topic with you for our April post-Show issue, but frankly, I just didn’t want to wait. You’ll see plenty of Show coverage and photos in next month’s issue. I actually had to jot down a few notes throughout the event for this column. For what I saw, heard, and talked about heartened me more than any bottom line number or attendance count.
We don’t need to rehash the specifics of this difficult economy, nor does it help to decry all the media hysteria and hype. We can’t really control what gets said or portrayed — only our reactions to it. And that’s why this Show emerges as such a special event.
Many of us industry diehards feared this Show would become a bit of a wake, or a giant “commiserable” convention drowned in sorrow and suds. Well, after three days of mingling among the chauffeured fl ock, you would think there are nothing but good times ahead. I observed a focus and a level of seriousness among operators and suppliers I haven’t seen in years. Our sessions were robust, with our staff reporting that audiences asked many questions and engaged with speakers. Networking events were packed, so much so that we soon realized we should have set aside larger rooms and suites. And many operators relished the simplicity of just hanging out together, whether for coffee or drinks, and getting down to some one-on-one business. Many of you helped each other out by swapping ideas, tips, and leads. Overall, I sensed a spirit of generosity.
The Show brought out the resolve and optimism in many of you, proving that this industry is full of strong wills, creative minds, and bold attitudes. Those are the marks of survivors and innovators, and this industry has plenty. Once again, our Operator of the Year Award winners and finalists underscored those points. They don’t settle for what’s worked best before; they find new ways to do their best for what lies ahead.
Perhaps the most brilliant approach I observed at the Show came from H.A. Thompson, the owner and CEO of Rose Chauffeured Transportation in Charlotte, N.C., and a 2008 LCT Operator of the Year Award winner. H.A. is known for his sunny outlook, strong radio voice, and seasoned business insights, which he has amply shared in LCT seminars and in the magazine. He recently took his efforts at promoting industry success a step further. H.A. wrote a book that I believe speaks to our present industry times: “If You Want Something You Don’t Have — You’ve Got To Do Something You’ve Never Done.” I encourage you to read this because it so succinctly puts forth what we as businesspeople need to do and why, whether we face economic prosperity or adversity. (To buy a copy: (800) 377-6912; www.rose-limo.com).
Finally, the quality of this industry also came through with the pointed, constructive feedback on our Show. I’ve already met with our highly capable events staff and our editors to go over what we can do better next year. Rest assured, we are listening to you. But before we get excited about the 2010 Show, get ready for LCT East on Oct. 8-9 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. We’ll offer peak fall colors this year, and a special track of Canadian seminars for our enthusiastic and supportive industry friends to the north.
I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from H.A.: “I believe we are all potential success stories, candidates for the WOW Hall of Fame. But you won’t get there by wishing. You have to work hard, think creatively, and always remember: You can’t change the past. . . you can only change the future. Just don’t forget to have fun while you’re changing it!”