Texas Self-Storage Operator Battles Industry Aggregation Websites

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Randy A. Smith, director of operations for Another Closet Self Storage in McAllen, Texas, is launching a full-scale attack on the self-storage industry's many aggregation websites in an effort to drive them out of the business. Smith's campaign launched with a controversial video message displayed at NoStorageAggregators.com, where he makes his objective clear.

"I want to see to it that every online storage aggregator has their membership revoked by every self-storage association around the world and see them ejected from the industry." The reason for his mission? "Because they are competitors, not vendors. True vendors don't compete with self-storage facility operators for online self-storage consumers. Aggregators do!"

Self-storage aggregation websites such as SpareFoot.com and USstoragesearch.com consolidate listings of available self-storage units from facilities nationwide. These websites work for the self-storage industry much the same way as Hotels.com for the hotel industry. These aggregators capture consumers online and sell the reservations to facility operators. A representative from SpareFoot.com declined to comment.

"If you look at every other industry that has been dealing with aggregators for a while, you find they are in a mad rush to disengage from them and focus their online efforts in bringing customers directly to their own websites, bypassing the aggregators totally," said Smith. "They realize aggregators are competitors, not partners."

As an example, Smith referred to the fallout that occurred last year when American Airlines pulled its presence away from travel aggregators Orbitz.com and Expedia.com. "We’re doing just the opposite in our industry. We’re welcoming this threat with open arms. Our ignorance will be costly if we continue on the path we’re on," asserted Smith.

In addition to his video message, Smith released a whitepaper titled "Dancing With the Devil: How the Self-Storage Industry Is Selling Its Soul to the SpareFoot.com’s of the World and the Hell We Are About to Reap for Doing So." A link to the whitepaper and video message was sent to leaders and members of more than 40 U.S. and foreign self-storage associations. Smith said he also sent it to approximately 500 executive-level self-storage contacts from his LinkedIn network. He estimates the circulation of his message to be close to 8,000.

Smith said he hopes to educate the self-storage industry to the point where operators take proactive steps to disengage from all third-party aggregator sites. "Working in unison, operators can minimize the financial damage aggregators are doing to our industry by simply agreeing not to patronize them. Then, their revenue dries up and they fade away," he said.

Smith has been in the self-storage industry for almost 10 years. Another Closet Self Storage, with eight facilities in Texas, operates more than 750,000 square feet of space.

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