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Tolling Points

Virtual Vendor Forum, Online Networking Show Strength of IBTTA Community

By: 
Bill Cramer

As tolling agencies continue responding and adapting to an unprecedented global health emergency, IBTTA is supplying the human connectivity that keeps the industry healthy and sound, in good times and bad.

Many of the tools and techniques—from webinars and videoconferences to email and social media—were in place long before the coronavirus made its unwanted and unwelcome appearance. One of them, our online vendors’ forum this Thursday, April 23, is brand new. But they all share the same key objective: creating a lifeline for tolling professionals who’ve always relied on each other for ideas, advice, and best practices, and now need that kind of collegial support more than ever.

“We’ve always known that person-to-person and business-to-business networking is one of the greatest values IBTTA offers,” says Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones. “We’ve always taken pride in being part of such a strong and vibrant professional community. Now, that community is being tested. And the communication tools at our fingertips are keeping us connected.”

Mutual Support from Day One

Everyone remembers how suddenly the world changed—how quickly the realization dawned that the coronavirus was a global threat that demanded a drastic response. There was no time to prepare, very little time to react—and every decision carried outsized consequences.

That was why it was so important that IBTTA immediately convened two well-attended videoconferences—one of them bringing together 80 tolling agency CEOs and executive directors, the other for 40 of the industry’s top private sector leaders—to provide a situation report on local impacts and a roundup of front-line responses. Those conversations captured a tone that has been echoed by political leaders in many U.S. states, and in many other jurisdictions around the world—that we’re all in this together, we can learn from each other’s experience and we must absolutely have each other’s backs.

Keeping the Conversations Going

Another major goal is to keep all of IBTTA’s priority conversations going—from the professional interactions that usually take place at our workshops and conferences, to the year-round communications our members and stakeholders count on, to our input on federal policy and legislation, most recently the Phase Four emergency relief and economic recovery package now under consideration by the U.S. Congress.

We’ve been hosting online meetings for many of the specialists within our global membership, including CFOs, General Counsels, young professionals, and communicators. Last week we offered a timely webinar on ransomware and cybersecurity. This Thursday, please join us for an IBTTA first—an online vendor forum, featuring the companies that were originally selected to present in person at our 2020 Technology Summit. We’re still hoping to hold the summit in October, but you can register now to meet the vendors this Thursday, April 23 at 11:00 AM Eastern.

Strong, Sustained Business Relationships

While the catalyst for all of this online activity is new, some of the thinking behind it dates back to the last economic downturn. In 2009, Forbes Insights published a short paper on the case for face-to-face business meetings that underlined the value of a combined face-to-face and virtual strategy. Its survey of more than 750 business leaders showed that:

  • Face-to-face meetings were essential for forming relationships, building trust, dealing with contentious topics, or sealing the deal.
  • Technology-enabled meetings were a great way to save time and money, allow more flexibility on location and timing, and boost productivity.

Looking back on the Forbes study shows that what’s old is sometimes new—and explains why IBTTA members are in such a position to weather this dramatic change in our world. We’ve spent years if not decades meeting together, working together, and building strong connections across the industry. We already know how to maintain those connections by virtual means. And now that we’re sheltering at home, temporarily, we know we can count on the colleagues we meet on a webinar or a Zoom call—because the relationships are already strong. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.

Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay connected. See you Thursday, for our first-ever virtual vendor forum.

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 11:15

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