Brothers Justin and John Tribitt were among those investigating the business, spending time on the show floor to "get the lay of the land." The pair owns 3rd Street Development in Bozeman, Mont., which primarily focuses on single-family residential development. Looking for another revenue source, the brothers came across the self-storage industry and attended the ISS Expo with the goal of finding a finance company and building supplier to help them construct their first facility. “We found both, so we’re very happy,” Justin says. “We learned more in the day and a half we’ve been here than in six months of online research.”
William Yerkes and fiancée Heather Remley were also looking for guidance on breaking into the biz. The couple hopes to buy an existing facility next year but is also open to tackling a conversion. “We had an excellent time at the expo,” Yerkes says. Between them, the couple attended four workshops and 18 seminars.
“Needless to say, by the time we walked around the expo [hall] Tuesday afternoon, I was on empty,” Yerkes jokes. “Luckily my fiancée still had some gas in her tank, and we were able to get some good info from a bunch of vendors. Since we are planning on buying a pre-existing facility, we mainly concentrated on refurbishing-related vendors, lighting, doors, roofing, management software, etc.”
Soaking Up Knowledge
Those of us in the education rooms were astounded by the level of engagement and energy radiating from presenters and students. Everyone was "on" and eager to tackle the material. The amount of digital technology in use was also a bit dizzying, as attendees wielded their laptops, tablets and phones to take notes and photos. The discerning questions asked during the Q&A periods were a true testament to the high quality of discourse taking place.
“The sessions were great,” says Joy Bates, a supervisor for Carlo Development LLC, a Van Nuys, Calif., company that manages six self-storage properties. Bates, who hadn’t attended an ISS Expo in about 10 years, said the show provided “step-by-step procedures and helpful tools for operators.” Although she enjoyed a number of the seminars, the Marketing Track resonated with her the most. “The hottest topics right now are social media, online marketing, SEO and SEM,” she says.
Standouts for Sills included seminars on manager motivation, key management reports and staff training. "These all easily relate to my job and could relate to any of the attendees’ roles with their company. The sessions help you view our industry through all eyes, owners to management, and that allows us to respect and appreciate the opportunities we all have to make our businesses even stronger."
As to the quality of the presentations, each seminar he attended was well-executed, Sills says. “You can easily tell that they love what they do, and they were able to captivate the audience with their wealth of experience.”
Of course, the expo included a whole host of other attractions and events, from the Buyers & Sellers Meeting, to the Self-Storage Legal Q&A, to the evening receptions, to the vendor presentations, to the all-new "How-To Program" that took place on the show floor. Attendees raved about the new Game-Show Learning Track, where they got to play games and win prizes while learning tricks of the trade.
The key to any successful conference and tradeshow is to present as much information in as many formats as possible to accommodate a wide range of attendee needs. Each person has a unique way of investigating and understanding the world. This year's expo participants wanted more, more, more, and we aimed to deliver via live presentations, video, hands-on demonstrations, interactive platforms and other techniques. For Sills, the event was everything he expected and much more. “If you can come here, it’s definitely worth the trip,” he says.
The Inside Self-Storage World Expo will return to the Paris Hotel & Casino, April 7-9, 2015. Show information will be available in the coming months at www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.