Excitement was in the air at the 2013 Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) in San Antonio. In addition to educational sessions, learning about new products, and networking opportunities, attendees got to see a mariachi band, enjoy piñata-hitting contests, participate in roundtable sessions that combined ice cream and an informal environment to discuss the industry’s most challenging problems, and take a tour of a new truck maintenance facility at the City of San Antonio. And who can forget the much-anticipated awards ceremonies.

Many fleet managers reported that they continue to face funding challenges, and replacement dollars and tight budgets were key topics of discussion among attendees. Another hot topic was fleet “greening,” as many public agencies continue to push forward environmental initiatives and fleet managers proudly discuss savings from their greening efforts. Finally, there were a significant number of personnel announcements within the industry, including moves, retirements, and announcements about open positions. With retirements becoming a bigger concern, it was good to see new faces at the show, with some fleet managers attending for the first time and others who brought along their staff for training purposes. Fleet managers who had moved to other positions were able to reconnect with their former colleagues at this annual event.

At 15 educational sessions and additional pre-sessions, attendees learned ways to improve efficiency and utilization, the types of alternative fuels available and their advantages and disadvantages, communication methods, vehicle specification tips, and take-home policy implementation and enforcement. To address those new to the industry, two specific sessions discussed fleet basics for new fleet managers or those who wanted a refresher, while another focused on staff training and succession planning.

In between and after sessions, attendees had many opportunities to connect with their peers at breaks, networking events, and nights on the town. On the show floor, attendees not only met with their current providers, but also had an opportunity to learn about new products and updates, as well as talk to companies providing products to the fleet industry for the first time. Several local fleet associations had booths on the show floor or had board members attending, further enhancing the networking element of the show.

GFX took place June 10-12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and had approximately 700 registered attendees. The next GFX will take place in San Diego June 2-4, 2014.

Take a look at the conference here.