2011 SSAA Convention & Tradeshow

Last week, Ben & I attended the Self Storage Association of Australasia’s (SSAA) annual convention & tradeshow, held at the Crown Convention Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Aaron, from our New Zealand office, was also due to join us, but had to remain home at the last minute due to a family emergency.

Here’s my blog of the event; including some photos at the end…

Tuesday 16th August

Ben & I jumped on the 9am flight from Brisbane, landing in a cool but bearable Melbourne at around 11:30am. Our favourite cabbie, known only as “Mr Sam”, met us at the airport and took us down to the Crown Metropol (our home for the next few days). We dropped off our luggage and carted the rest of the gear to the Crown Convention Centre, in preparation for the tradeshow.

A few moments later, we were inside and decided it would be best to try and find the boxes of tradeshow gear we’d had delivered down a few weeks prior. Luckily, as we walked through the door, it was waiting there for us behind a fenced-off goods cage. Within moments a helpful lad from the Crown had it wheeled over to our booth and we began unpacking.

Half an hour later, the crew from Harry’s arrived to begin setting up our tradeshow flooring, trussing, LCD screens and furniture (see photos below). We had originally planned to go with the main tradeshow company for our furniture & flooring requirements, but after a little investigation on my part, soon found a supplier that charged more than 50% less (for the same thing), so we went with them instead. I’m glad we did; because their service was exceptional! Within 3 hours we were setup and ready to go – the LCD screens were tested, the audio working and the marketing materials in place.

Later that afternoon, we headed back to our respective hotel rooms and prepared for the Welcome Dinner, which was held at the Melbourne Aquarium, just across the river from the Crown Casino. The food on offer was quite good (seafood – of course), but not being a seafood eater myself, there was still plenty to choose from. I spent a few hours chatting to new clients, putting faces to names for existing clients as well as saying g’day to clients I’d met in the past. At 11pm, a small group of us decided to move on to the hotel bar for a few quiet drinks, finishing the night around midnight.

Wednesday 17th August

After a quick breakfast downstairs at Maze, Ben & I headed on over to our booth for the grand opening of the SSAA tradeshow. Within minutes of the conference session ending and the tradeshow opening, the room was flooded with hundreds of attendees; with most of them stopping in at the StorMan stand to look at some of our exciting new features, or to find out how our self storage management software could help their business.

One of our big new features this year was our StorMan Mobile Edition – which allows you to access your complete StorMan data using your iPhone, iPad or Android device. We also had an ASUS Transformer on display, which was very, very popular. In fact, we had a number of people ask if they could buy one from us right there and then!

The day passed incredibly quickly and before I could blink it was late afternoon and we were off to the dinner venue that our group had picked, known simply as “The Pub at Crown”. Most of our meals were great, but my chicken was not cooked right the way through (let’s just say that I didn’t notice until half way through because of the dim lighting and I crossed my fingers I wasn’t going to get food poisoning; luckily I was OK!).

Thursday 18th August

After another quick breakfast downstairs at Maze, Ben & I headed on over to our tradeshow booth for another busy day. Given the number of people at our stand on Day 1, I expected a slightly quieter day today… but this was not the case! After the Crown lad wheeled a food-station directly in front of our stand (see photo), I soon realised that this would attract attendees in droves – more so when it was decked out with chocolate brownies (there’s a photo of that, too)… yum!! Just like yesterday, today roared through & by the time the last tradeshow session had finished, I was losing my voice and hadn’t sat down since breakfast! Before we knew it, Ben was upstairs running a “Technology in Storage” Round Table as part of the convention and I was packing up the tradeshow booth. Ben then hosted the StorMan Training (which was very well attended; see photos) while I finalised dismantling of our tradeshow stand.

Some hours later, the job was done and we returned to our respective hotel rooms to prepare for the Awards Dinner, which took place in the famous Palladium room. Joining me at the table were a number of existing clients, as well as a number of new customers – including the hilarious Susan from a storage facility in central Queensland. We were right at the front next to the stage but (luckily?) none of us were picked-on by the on-stage entertainment (see photo of Rennie Shafer from the SSAA dancing in a helmet joining other audience members as part of a “The Village People” skit!).

Congratulations to all of the award winners (posted separately here) and to those that kept up with me in the conga-line that formed sometime during the evening. I don’t exactly remember how the line formed, but I vaguely recall two of our clients joining the entertainer to form a conga line, one of whom then quickly pulled me in behind her to continue the line as it snaked around the dinner tables, getting longer by the second. Within a minute, the line – now quite long – had turned back to the dance floor where it dismantled and I joined many others for a bit of a dance… although judging by the pain in my left leg the following morning, perhaps I shook my tail feather (yes, they played that song too) a little too much.

The feedback I’ve heard from attendees was that it was a very successful convention – thanks to Rennie, Luisa (get well soon!) and Elaine from the SSAA for organising a fantastic event (don’t forget to check out the photos below). For us at StorMan, it was a very successful event – personally, I met many new clients, put faces to names for many others and also caught up with some friends I’d made along the way from previous SSAA events.

I look forward to seeing you all again next year at the Sydney Hilton for the 2012 SSAA Convention & Tradeshow!