Attending an industry expo is much like going on a vacation. There are months of preparation, booking travel and hotel arrangements, and working ahead at your job so things don’t fall through the cracks while you’re gone. Then there’s the excitement, and perhaps a bit of anxiety about the trip. How will you manage to pack everything you need to do and see in just a few short days?
With the Inside Self-Storage (ISS) World Expo just days away, you’re likely thinking non-stop about your adventure to Las Vegas. I know I am! Whether this is your first ISS conference or you’ve done it a few times before, you need to mentally and physically prepare for the show. Last week, ISS Editor Tony Jones blogged about the importance of breathing when facing something that causes your heart to beat a bit faster. A fast-paced week of education, exhibits and networking can certainly do that!
I turned to members of the online community Self-Storage Talk and several industry experts for advice on how to get the most from this experience. Consider these words of wisdom as you get ready for the biggest industry conference of the year.
Wear comfortable shoes, take lots of business cards or your QR code of your contact info as we do, introduce yourself to as many people as you can and say hello with an introduction when at meals or breaks. Listen and learn. — Anne Ballard, President of Training, Marketing and Developmental Services for Universal Storage Group (USG) and the Founder of Universal Management Co.
Be strategic! Make a list of specific questions or topics you want to discuss with exhibitors, attendees and speakers. This helps you stay focused and make the most of your time. —Rick Beal, Co-Founder, Atomic Storage Group
Be sure to scope out the agenda ahead of getting to the show. Identify what you’re most interested in learning about or companies that you’re most interested in seeing. Try to set time with people ahead of time for meetings if possible. There’s so much to see that it can be overwhelming, so plan ahead as much as you can to maximize what you get out of it. — Terry Campbell, CEO, Copper Storage Management
After a long day of educational sessions, you’ll be overwhelmed, and it will be so much easier to wander back to your room for a nap instead of journeying to the exhibit hall. Make sure to invest your time and energy at the vendor hall and visit each row. —CJ Stratte, CEO and President, On The Move Inc.
Don't stay out late partying! Get some rest and be ready for day two to begin. Listen, and take copious notes because you won’t remember it all when you get home. Have fun and enjoy the networking. —Gina6K, Moderator, Self-Storage Talk
Vegas is a very arid, dry and often a warm climate. Keep your body hydrated. Also consider saline nasal spray to keep your sinuses moisturized as well to avoid issues from all that dry air. Some meeting rooms are chilly, so you need to be able to adapt for your own comfort. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during educational sessions. These speakers are here to share their knowledge with all attendees. It’s what drives us to be there. So please ask questions because there’s likely someone else who wants to know the same thing or has a similar situation. —Stacie Maxwell, Vice President of Marketing and Training, USG
Plan ahead but leave enough room for new connections. People are what make this industry great, so making sure to learn but also meet new people makes a successful conference experience. Everyone in this industry is so friendly and willing to share their journey, so don’t be afraid to ask and say hello! —Cassie Dodgen, President of Operations, Pinnacle Storage Managers.
See the vendors you’re most interested in first before the show gets busy. Reach out and schedule appointments if you’d like to have a lengthy conversation, so the vendor can give you their undivided attention, especially if you want to go over plans and reports. —Sarah Beth Johnson, Director of Sales, USG
From my own experience having attended dozens of shows over the years, I would also add to eat well. Just like when on a vacation, we tend to skip meals, grab things while on the run or fill up on unhealthy foods. We replace water with coffee (or alcohol) and tend to forge to fuel or bodies. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying delectable meals at the many fine restaurants in Vegas, make sure you eat regularly and try to sneak in some foods that are passably healthy.
When in show mode, rest can also be elusive. Be sure to carve out time to relax whenever you can. The event venue, Caesars Forum Conference Center, has a 50-foot-wide foyer where you can take a moment and rest your feet.
Much like a vacation, attending an industry conference can be ultra-rewarding. This year’s show will be outstanding, filled with new presenters speaking on fresh topics, signature events, 200-plus exhibitors, and an inspiring keynote from Dominque Dawes—all at a gorgeous new venue. We hope you’ll join us!