Self-storage manager and first-time attendee Diana Espinoza expected to pick up a few ideas at this year’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, April 10-13. But by the second day of the event, she already had a legal pad full of notes and “to-dos” to implement at her Climate Self Storage business, with four locations in New Mexico and Texas.
“I already had my eyes open as a manager. But now I have a broader view of what needs to get done,” Espinoza says.
This year’s show at the Paris Hotel & Resort drew nearly 4,000 professionals from worldwide to learn, network and share information about an industry that’s enjoying a massive wave of success. The biggest self-storage event of the year included seven specialized seminar tracks, seven deep-dive workshops, an International Program, sessions in Spanish, roundtable discussions, several networking events and vendor presentations. It also included two days of exhibits by more than 180 product and service suppliers.
The 2017 expo was attended by people from all 50 states as well as seven Canadian provinces and nearly 30 countries. It boasted more than 1,400 first-time attendees.
“We’re extremely grateful to all of the presenters, exhibitors and attendees who participated in the biggest international self-storage expo ever,” says Troy Bix, vice president of ISS. “The overall experience was the best I’ve ever been a part of.”
The ISS Expo has always provided outstanding education, but this year’s platform drew record crowds of professionals seeking to advance their skills. They had access to more learning opportunities than ever between 45 seminars, seven workshops, roundtable discussions, two open-forum Q&As and more. Nearly 100 total presenters provided guidance on all things self-storage.
The show opened with three workshops on development, legal issues and marketing, with the Development Workshop reaching a new attendance record of more than 300. Students included new investors as well as existing owners looking to grow their portfolio.
Day two launched with an “Attendee Welcome & Orientation” that served as a primer for show participants to help them maximize their experience. They learned how to navigate the show, where and how to download the expo mobile app, which events were “can’t miss” and much more. From there, they funneled into one of five seminar rooms focused on building, management, investing, ownership and marketing. In the late afternoon, they got their burning questions answered at the annual “Self-Storage Q&A,” where several folks won great prizes.
The program continued on Wednesday with tracks focused on finance, management, marketing, ownership and technology. Espinoza particularly liked the seminars on legal issues and emergency preparedness. “Being a supervisor, it’s important that I’m aware of the legal stuff so I can let the other managers know about the do’s and don’ts,” she says. “I learned about the steps we need to take in case of an emergency. It was very helpful.”
After the conclusion of seminars, attendees rubbed elbows with peers and experts during the show’s nearly 30 roundtable discussions, with topics ranging from portable storage to solar energy to tax-saving tips and much more. After an afternoon of exhibits, the day’s learning ended with the Self-Storage Legal Q&A, hosted by industry attorney Jeffrey Greenberger.
The show’s education lineup ended on Thursday with four specialty workshops: Legal Learning Live (taught by Greenberger), the Management Workshop, the Owner/Operator Executive Workshop and the all-new Sales-Skills Workshop. More than 150 storage operators participated in this comprehensive session, which provided a plug-and-play sales system to help them boost conversions and generate more revenue.
Reaching Across Borders
With approximately 150 international attendees representing nearly 30 countries, it was important that the ISS Expo provide activities to appeal to a global audience. All show participants had access to a full-day International Program this year, which included eight sessions on self-storage around the world. Regions of focus included Canada, Europe, Latin America and many others. A comprehensive panel which broke into roundtables for more intimate discussion covered Africa, Australia the Middle East and further areas of special interest.
Spanish-speaking attendees also had their own program this year, with three seminars in their native tongue. Held on Tuesday, 1-4 p.m., it included a close look at the Latin America self-storage market, a case study of success in the region, and a debate focused on facility development.
Exhibits to Explore
Though the expo hall was expanded this year to include more booths than ever before, filling 26,000 square feet of space, the floor was completely sold out. More than 180 companies, including 25 first-time exhibitors, displayed their wares, answering questions and providing demonstrations. An overflow area just outside the main hall included seven companies.
“The caliber and breadth of this year’s vendors was remarkable,” Bix says. “Our attendees were eager to meet with these companies, and the booths were packed.”
For Fay Smithhart, manager of My Self Storage in Gonzales, La., the expo hall provided a valuable opportunity. “I was able to talk with vendors and meet them face-to-face. This interaction was very helpful,” she says. According to Smithhart, the experience is a must for any existing or would-be storage professional. “Everyone should attend the ISS Expo. And owners would be crazy not to send their managers to the show so they can learn more about the business.”