Those of you who attended NATSO Connect 2022 will understand my mixed feelings of concern and excitement for the future of our travel center industry. Many of us were able to meet face-to-face in Florida, and we were all able to learn and build on each other’s ideas while taking away critical information from industry thought leaders and suppliers. We have so many opportunities ahead of us, but the excitement of the future is tempered by the reality of the challenges we face.
Let me start by saying, you will be happy to know that attendance at our show was up significantly. More than 600 truckstop and travel plaza operators and industry suppliers came together under one roof for our annual industry meeting.
New members and old friends were happy to see one another after several pandemic years. It was great to catch up with old friends, both truckstop and travel plaza operators and vendors. If you didn't attend, you may want to sign up early for next year as soon as it's announced.
The virtual world we had to embrace as part of COVID helped fill the gap, but it isn’t a substitution for the magic that happens when we’re face to face. All the panels, discussions and presentations were very helpful as always. They alone are always worth the trip.
NATSO also offered a deep dive into the fleets of the future, the role of alternative fuels and the changing landscape of checkout technology.
The mix of vendors was excellent once again. They included a combination of rock-solid fuel and food providers as well as those offering the latest technology solutions. I was pleased to see a mix of those companies that have always supported us and with many new exhibitors we haven’t met with before. Every vendor offered new ideas and products to improve our businesses.
Our Government Affairs Committee updated us on all the issues facing our industry. NATSO’s top legislative priorities in 2022 will focus on the changing landscape for fuels, including implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s $5 billion for state Departments of Transportation to build out a national electric vehicle charging network.
Closely tied to government affairs is our NATSO PAC, which held a fun thank-you party for all supporters during NATSO Connect. I was very impressed to learn that our PAC ranked very well compared to other similar organizations, and, in fact, probably the highest on a per capita basis. Thank you again to all of you who support this and please consider helping us this year again.
I offer my sincerest thanks to everyone for their support of NATSO in all ways. We have some serious challenges ahead of us this year, and I look forward to working on them with each of you. I hope you will join us in NATSO’s 2022 Day on the Hill, which will be held September 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we can only accomplish it with the collective voices of our members.
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