Trade shows are the backbone of many industries, but for the self storage industry, these shows are becoming increasingly more important. The Self Storage Association offers two national trade shows throughout the year; one in the fall and one in the spring. In the 9 years we have been in business, we had never attended an SSA trade show until this past spring in Orlando. I can't believe we waited this long! The signup process was smooth and painless. There were a lot of industry professionals and vendors; even more than we had anticipated. We were able to make contacts, build relationships and learn from other operators and suppliers already in the industry.
Our business benefited by attending and exhibiting at the SSA Spring Conference & Trade Show in Orlando and we are planning to attend and exhibit in the future. Based on our personal experience, below are seven reasons why you should be attending at least one trade show, and how they benefit you and your business.
- Opportunities to network with other industry professionals. Networking is one of the most essential pieces of attending a trade show or any industry event for that matter. It can be intimidating attending an event with a plethora of people that you have never met. However, it creates a great opportunity for you to meet potential customers, partners, friends or educators from the industry. You would be doing yourself a disservice by missing out on this fantastic opportunity.
- Gain information about the industry. SSA offers educational seminars and courses that provide an abundance of information that will be useful for your business. Topics can range from marketing to planning the construction of your first facility, but rest assured that there will be something for just about everyone.
- Learn trade secrets and best practices. Trade shows are a great place to learn the secrets and best practices from industry leaders. Many of the attendees have been in the business for years; these industry veterans are more than willing to share their experiences on what has worked for them, what hasn't, including various products and services.
- Get new ideas. New ideas are the foundation of growth in any business. With so many different minds gathered together, you will have ample inspiration present. All you have to do is take that inspiration and create something out of it.
- Obtain immediate answers from vendors. Sometimes when you have questions for a vendor, it is difficult to communicate it through emails. However, when you are at a trade show, you have the vendor right in front of you, so you can ask questions and get immediate answers, plus, build a new relationship.
- You become an industry specialist. All of the networking and learning time available to you allow you to absorb the most information possible. In addition, the contacts you create become useful resources for referrals, reviews and potential partnerships. Make sure you take advantage of the show and get the most out of it.
- Have fun! Last but not least, have fun. Trade shows are meant to be educational, but they are also fun. Take the time to learn something interesting and/or do something fun while in a new place! Make new friends and enjoy time doing what you love!