They Want More! 2014 Inside Self-Storage World Expo Experiences Record Attendance and Voracious Participation

The 2014 Inside Self-Storage World Expo drew thousands of industry professionals from around the globe, who voraciously took part in the education program, social events and exhibits. Not only was attendance at an all-time high, approximately 65 percent of participants were first-time attendees. Here’s more on the experiences enjoyed at the industry’s biggest event of the year.

April 10, 2014

7 Min Read
They Want More! 2014 Inside Self-Storage World Expo Experiences Record Attendance and Voracious Participation

The day after returning from this year's Inside Self-Storage World Expo, self-storage manager J.B. Sills was already reaping the benefit of lessons learned at the show. While discussing property features with the first customer he waited on at A Plus Storage in Spring Hill, Tenn., he tossed in a phrase he'd picked up at the event, "the no-late-fee guarantee," intended to encourage tenants to sign up for auto pay.

“At that point in our presentation, the ‘I only pay with cash’ customer standing in front of me quickly changed into our greatest fan and a punctual auto-charge customer,” Sills says. Attendees don't always enjoy immediate payback on a conference investment. But as voracious as this year's participants were for information and education, it isn't surprising to hear success stories like this one.

Tony Borysenko (left), vice president of Chateau Products Inc., with J.B. Sills, manager of A Plus Storage in Spring Hill, Tenn., who won the Self-Storage Talk The 2014 Expo, March 30 to April 2, drew thousands of industry professionals from around the globe to the Paris Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas, where they enjoyed four days of seminars, workshops, social events, and product and service exhibits. Not only was attendance at an all-time high, experiencing 18 percent year-over-year growth, 65 percent of participants were first-time attendees.

Sills, who’s been a self-storage manager for just two years, is one of the newly initiated. As the winner of the Self-Storage Talk online community's “Loving Las Vegas” essay contest, sponsored by Chateau Products Inc., he was treated to roundtrip airfare, three nights at the hotel, and a standard education package.

“One thing I looked forward to was being surrounded by people who are just as passionate about this industry as I am, from store management to ownership,” Sills says. “My goals were to absorb the knowledge of each speaker whose session I attended and take the time to meet people in this business. It’s such a pleasure to have had that experience.”

The educational component of the show included nine tracks covering self-storage ownership, management, marketing, investment, finance, construction, development, liability and more. There were also five add-on workshops and an exhibit hall where more than 125 suppliers demonstrated their wares.

 “This is was hands down one of our best shows in recent years,” says Troy Bix, vice president of Inside Self-Storage. “The industry is drawing new investors, and development is heating up. Plus, owners and managers are improving revenue through smarter business strategies.

“The ISS Expo continues to be the place for education and information, not just on a national level, but an international level,” Bix says. This year’s event attracted attendees from 25 other countries, including investors, developers and operators from Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Money Management

More education, more information, more opportunities ... Self-storage professionals want it all. But what they mostly desire is additional profit. That's why revenue management was such a key focus of this year's conference, including education seminars that addressed the issue from the unique perspective of facility owners and managers, as well as an in-depth opening session on systematic and dynamic pricing for storage operations.

Speaker Warren Lieberman, president of Veritec Solutions, challenged the industry’s dependency on discounting to bring in new customers, telling the audience to think about their pricing in a more methodical way. Using examples from real industry websites, Lieberman showed how a small change in a rental rate or pricing on a retail item can dramatically affect a facility’s revenue stream. “If you put the effort into it, you can capture increases in profitability,” he said. He also stressed the importance of viewing self-storage pricing as a “journey,” encouraging operators to think about small steps they can take toward their long-term goals.

Development Buzz

With the economy in recovery and lending dollars once again flowing for self-storage projects, the industry is seeing a resurgence in construction and development activity; so it's no surprise that this year's expo enjoyed strong representation from investors and owners interested in buying, building and expanding. Overall, talk of new builds, remodeling and adding “the next phase” to existing facilities was much more prevalent at the show than in recent years.

Brothers Justin and John Tribitt were among those investigating the business, spending time on the show floor to "get the lay of the land." The pair owns 3rd Street Development in Bozeman, Mont., which primarily focuses on single-family residential development. Looking for another revenue source, the brothers came across the self-storage industry and attended the ISS Expo with the goal of finding a finance company and building supplier to help them construct their first facility. “We found both, so we’re very happy,” Justin says. “We learned more in the day and a half we’ve been here than in six months of online research.”

William Yerkes and fiancée Heather Remley were also looking for guidance on breaking into the biz. The couple hopes to buy an existing facility next year but is also open to tackling a conversion. “We had an excellent time at the expo,” Yerkes says. Between them, the couple attended four workshops and 18 seminars.

“Needless to say, by the time we walked around the expo [hall] Tuesday afternoon, I was on empty,” Yerkes jokes. “Luckily my fiancée still had some gas in her tank, and we were able to get some good info from a bunch of vendors. Since we are planning on buying a pre-existing facility, we mainly concentrated on refurbishing-related vendors, lighting, doors, roofing, management software, etc.”

Soaking Up Knowledge

Those of us in the education rooms were astounded by the level of engagement and energy radiating from presenters and students. Everyone was "on" and eager to tackle the material. The amount of digital technology in use was also a bit dizzying, as attendees wielded their laptops, tablets and phones to take notes and photos. The discerning questions asked during the Q&A periods were a true testament to the high quality of discourse taking place.

“The sessions were great,” says Joy Bates, a supervisor for Carlo Development LLC, a Van Nuys, Calif., company that manages six self-storage properties. Bates, who hadn’t attended an ISS Expo in about 10 years, said the show provided “step-by-step procedures and helpful tools for operators.” Although she enjoyed a number of the seminars, the Marketing Track resonated with her the most. “The hottest topics right now are social media, online marketing, SEO and SEM,” she says.

Standouts for Sills included seminars on manager motivation, key management reports and staff training. "These all easily relate to my job and could relate to any of the attendees’ roles with their company. The sessions help you view our industry through all eyes, owners to management, and that allows us to respect and appreciate the opportunities we all have to make our businesses even stronger."

Attendees rush into the exhibit hall at this year's ISS Expo, where more than 125 companies demonstrated their products and services. As to the quality of the presentations, each seminar he attended was well-executed, Sills says. “You can easily tell that they love what they do, and they were able to captivate the audience with their wealth of experience.”

Of course, the expo included a whole host of other attractions and events, from the Buyers & Sellers Meeting, to the Self-Storage Legal Q&A, to the evening receptions, to the vendor presentations, to the all-new "How-To Program" that took place on the show floor. Attendees raved about the new Game-Show Learning Track, where they got to play games and win prizes while learning tricks of the trade.

The key to any successful conference and tradeshow is to present as much information in as many formats as possible to accommodate a wide range of attendee needs. Each person has a unique way of investigating and understanding the world. This year's expo participants wanted more, more, more, and we aimed to deliver via live presentations, video, hands-on demonstrations, interactive platforms and other techniques. For Sills, the event was everything he expected and much more. “If you can come here, it’s definitely worth the trip,” he says.

The Inside Self-Storage World Expo will return to the Paris Hotel & Casino, April 7-9, 2015. Show information will be available in the coming months at

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