Attending a self-storage tradeshow can be exhilarating. It can also be exhausting—especially when you’re just crawling out of a pandemic and you’ve barely seen the outside world in months, let alone experienced the overstimulation of Las Vegas. A live event gives you the opportunity to learn from industry experts, sharpen your skills, gain insight to products and services, and connect with colleagues. It’s all good stuff! But if you aren’t prepared, doing so much over just few days can leave you feeling frazzled.
So, let’s help you get ready for the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, July 13-16, at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. We’ve assembled the following advice to help you cope and ensure you get the most out of your show experience!
Have a Strategy
How will you take advantage of all the events and resources the show has to offer? It may be tough to accomplish everything on your to-do list. That’s why it’s critical to decide how you’ll spend your time before you arrive on site. It’s a good idea to map out the activities that interest you and create an action plan. So, grab a pen and paper, create a digital document or open your favorite scheduling app, and get ready to make some notes.
First, realize there’s no way a single attendee can participate in everything the show has to offer, particularly on the education side, where seminars are organized into concurrent tracks. If you’re attending the event with another person or a group, it’s best to divide and conquer. If you miss a seminar or attend one you particularly enjoy, you can pre-order copies of the seminars in DVD format through at iss-store.com, or visit the sales center in the main education corridor or the ISS booth on the show floor (819).
Think about which events will give you the most value. What do you really need to learn? What might you like to share with your employees, supervisor or co-workers? What will help you immediately improve your business? Base your decisions on the content that’s most relevant to your role, whether you’re a manager, owner, developer or investor.
Next, get familiar with the venue. Know where to pick up your show badge on the first day, the location of events you plan to attend and even the restrooms. To avoid wandering aimlessly during exhibit hours, decide ahead of time which vendors you plan to visit, then create a logical course so you aren’t backtracking or wasting valuable time. To preview the show floor, visit issworldexpo.com and click “Expo Hall” on the top navigation bar. From there you’ll see a link for our interactive floor plan.
If there’s a particular speaker or vendor you’d like to meet, it can be helpful to set up an appointment before the show. Speakers will be swamped with questions, particularly after their seminar presentations, and exhibitors will be busy meeting customers and providing demos. No one likes to waste time on the fringe of a crowd awaiting their turn.
Instead, be proactive. Call or e-mail the person ahead of time and ask if you can arrange a time to meet. You can opt for something very casual, like meeting in a seminar room or booth, or invite the person out for cocktails or a meal.
If you do manage to schedule some meet-and-greets, be respectful and understanding of the other person’s time constraints. Do your best to be on time, but don’t get overly disgruntled if he’s a few moments late. A lot of unexpected things can happen at an event of this size; sometimes you have to just go with the flow. It’s wise to exchange cell-phone numbers and email addresses in case plans need to change.
When you finally meet, understand that a tradeshow is typically not the best place for a long conversation about a project or problem. It’s a place to open a discussion. Have your questions ready and be prepared to follow up with more communication after the event.
Speakers and vendors will always have business cards at the ready and are more than happy to chat with you if they have the chance. Don’t be offended if someone can’t speak to you immediately. People are sometimes being pulled in multiple directions at a tradeshow. Get the person’s contact information and reach out after the expo. Once everyone returns home and the chaos dies down, you’ll be able to get the attention and information you seek. This may be infinitely better than waiting in line to steal two minutes of a harried person’s time and energy.
If you prepare in advance for the event, you’ll be calm and ready to learn. Here are some additional pointers to get the most from your show experience.
- Get plenty of sleep. These are very long days.
- Wear comfortable clothes (think business-casual). Layering is a good idea, as the temperature can vary from room to room.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be amazed at how many miles you put in during the course of the event.
- Eat good meals so you aren’t distracted by hunger. Keep snacks and water handy.
- Stay hydrated, but avoid drinking too much, or you’ll be in constant need of a restroom.
- Bring your COVID-19 prevention essentials like a face mask and hand sanitizer. Come prepared with other health essentials like tissues, Band-Aids, pain reliever, antacid, throat drops, etc. All it takes is one small ailment to create great discomfort when you’re away from home (or your hotel room).
- Don’t forget your mobile devices … and their chargers!
- Bring pens, a notebook and business cards. You’ll want to network and take notes during sessions.
- Don’t skip the tradeshow floor. After sitting in seminars, the walking is good for you, and you don’t want to miss the sights.
- Interact with fellow attendees, speakers and exhibitors as much as you can (following recommended social-distancing guidelines, of course). This is an opportunity unlike any other you’ll have during the year.
- Use social media to connect with other storage professionals before, during and after the show. This will help orient you to the event and keep the experience alive even when you aren’t on site.
- Set appointments in advance with anyone you know you want to meet. Once on site, things move fast; a pre-arranged schedule will keep you on track and ensure you don’t miss important meetings.
- Every evening, take a few moments to collect your thoughts. Jot down important notes about sessions or people you met as well as your follow-up plans.
- Take the freebies. Grab those pens, totes, brochures and business cards from the vendor booths. You can pilfer through them later.
- Relax and have a good time. Sure, you’re there to learn and network, but you should also have fun. Maybe take some time to explore the city. It’s Vegas, after all!
Once you’re back home, it’s time to work your post-show game plan. You’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge and made new connections. Don’t let them go to waste!
Consider which speakers, vendors or peers to contact for follow-up and what other resources to seek. Make a list of action items. Did you perhaps learn a new marketing strategy or a way to increase rental rates? Is there a new product you’d like to try or some websites you should visit? What wheels should you set in motion? Pull out those business cards, notes and brochures and make the connections.
Remember the adage, “What you put into it, is what you get out of it.” You’ve spent time, money and resources to attend the biggest conference and tradeshow of the year. Take the time to prepare for your ISS World Expo experience, follow these guidelines, and put your plans into action. To get show details and register, visit www.issworldexpo.com.