Though it may seem appallingly early for it, we’ve just completed the initial seminar-proposal process for the 2016 Inside Self-Storage World Expo, which will take place in Las Vegas, April 25-28. Industry professionals interested in presenting at next year’s conference were invited during June and July to submit their credentials and topic ideas for the education program. Though this call has always been answered with gusto, this year’s pool of applicants is larger and more remarkable than ever.
We have nearly 100 proposals to consider, and 45 seminar slots to fill. We’re also working from a master education plan, crafted with a brand-new format in mind for 2016. Unfortunately, not all the desired topics will be satisfied by the call-for-speaker submissions. I’d say 30 percent to 35 percent of this year’s proposals will make it onto the official agenda. I’m sharing this with you because:
1. Although the 2016 call for speakers is officially closed and we’re about to start solidifying the program, we’re always open to innovation. If you have a truly inventive seminar you’d like to propose, we’d love to hear about it. You can e-mail me directly.
2. Even with all the applications we received, there are still many topics on our “wish list”—many that were requested by our attendees on feedback forms from this year’s show, for example—that we’d still like to fulfill. That said, we’ll be reaching out to facility managers and owners, and posting requests for presenters on particular topics via our online channels to satisfy these gaps. If you or someone at your self-storage organization would like to participate as a speaker, please let me know, and we’ll see if there’s a match between your areas of expertise and our education needs.
3. I just like to keep readers apprised of our progress. Sometimes it’s cool to get an inner glimpse of the brands you support. If you agree, we’re happy to oblige.
One of the things we’re endeavoring to do in 2016 is better organize the education tracks by audience level of knowledge. We’ve always made it clear which tracks are for owners vs. managers vs. investors. However, feedback from this year’s surveys indicated a requisite to clarify which sessions are for neophytes and which for more seasoned professionals. In other words, if you’re brand-new to the business, you want it to be explicitly clear which sessions are appropriate for your position—the same if you’re a manager who’s worked in the business several years or an owner who’s just building his second facility. So the upcoming ISS Expo will include tracks designed, not only by audience type, but by proficiency.
We’re also injecting some new material to the curriculum to capitalize on emerging market trends and keep current on changing operational protocol. Ours is not a business that tends toward expedient, dramatic shifts. But it is steadily evolving, particularly in the area of technology, and our new session lineup will reflect that.
I mentioned earlier that this year’s batch of seminar submissions is impressive. One of the reasons that’s true is because we’re seeing many more proposals from actual facility operators. In the past, it’s been common for a conference program to be dominated by vendor presenters. They’re often a natural choice. Not only do suppliers bring a lot to the table in terms of industry know-how, they can draw on personal experience from working with many owners and managers. They see things from a 10,000-foot level, identifying trends, challenges and solutions.
But we all know supplier presenters can have a personal agenda in delivering information to our audience: to cultivate new clients. There’s nothing wrong with that, and so long as the information they deliver is educational and non-promotional in nature, the exchange is mutually beneficial. The addition of facility operators to the program, however, brings a singular intensity and veracity of perspective. They’re “in the trenches” every day, making the business work and seeking answers to common problems. Their goal in participating in our program is to simply share what they’ve learned with peers and, hopefully, save them time, money and grief on their own professional path.
Both vendor and operator presenters assist our attendees in running a better operation, making the industry stronger as a whole. We’re grateful for all their effort and expertise as well as the unique insight each contributes to the collective self-storage discussion.
With an eye toward 2016 and beyond, we’re sculpting an education program that will successfully edify existing and future industry professionals. We can’t do it without your help. First, we need to know what you want to learn at ISS Expo and how you want that information delivered. Many of you have shared suggestions with us via surveys, social media and even personal e-mails. I encourage you to keep doing so. You can also publish your comments below.
Second, we need smart, experienced, well-spoken presenters to share what they know with our show attendees. Are you one of these people, or do you know someone who is? If so, please reach out to me to chat possibilities. Our speakers enjoy free registration for the tradeshow and concurrent education program as well as other perks. We’d love to welcome new authorities to the team, and we appreciate your consideration. Thanks!