Thirteen years ago, during the tail-end of the Great Recession, the self-storage industry was doing its best to weather the economic storm that distressed the financial markets as well as the banking and real estate industries. Though the asset class fared better than most, because demand for storage remains throughout downturns due to job losses, relocations, business closures, and downsizing, there were uncertainties about the future.
To add to the turbulence of the time, social media usage was beginning to soar, and customers were becoming increasingly comfortable with online shopping. However, by and large, self-storage operators were still utilizing the Yellow Pages as their principal form of advertising and facilities’ websites were mostly basic or non-existent. Self-storage veterans and newcomers alike seemed hesitant to embrace these technology-driven options and incorporate them into their businesses.
For that reason, and to show appreciation to clients of his former employer, Tron Jordheim, managing partner of Columbia, Mo.-based Jordheim Consulting, decided to organize a conference like none other. His goal for the 2009 and 2011 Self Storage Hawaii unConferences was to bring a group of well-respected industry professionals together in a more laidback environment to find solutions to problems that were vexing self-storage operators and prosper from them. Those events were so successful that he’s had inquiries about a third unConference for a decade.
After eight years of requests for another unConference in the Aloha State, Jordheim began planning for a follow-up retreat in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions, it was necessary to postpone the restart of the Self Storage Hawaii unConference. With travel restrictions lifted and the venue secured, the unConference was rescheduled for Oct. 17 to Oct. 23, 2021, at the beachfront Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Although the unConference doesn’t commence until the 19th, participants are encouraged to arrive on Sunday the 17th to “get into the Aloha spirit” at Waikoloa Beach. Pre-conference activities on Monday the 18th include visiting the Akaka Foundation for a tropical forests project, a science camps session, and a guided hike to watch the sunset at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Reclamation Project Center.
This unique, in-person networking, education, and relationship-building opportunity officially kicks off with an opening reception and fundraiser for KureIt on Tues., Oct. 19. Following group breakfasts, there will be daily morning educational sessions and afternoon/evening networking opportunities on Wed., Thurs., and Fri. To wrap up the week-long retreat, an optional “farewell breakfast” will be held on Sat. Oct. 23.
“We are very lucky to have Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences with us,” says Jordheim. “He’ll be leading an internet conversion science school for about an hour each day. He gave a conversion science school for us when we did the 2011 Hawaii unConference, and it helped change the course of the entire self-storage industry.
This year will be no different. His decades-long work on the leading edge of Conversion Rate Optimization Science has transformed the business futures of countless enterprises. The Hawaii unConference is a rare opportunity to spend time learning from him in a relaxed, intimate environment.”
According to Jordheim, the Hawaii unConference will also feature peer-to-peer sessions, roundtable discussions, panels, and time to talk about the issues of the day. Some of the interesting and timely presentations include a look at fraud prevention in the digital age with Carol Mixon of SkilCheck Services, Inc.; the segmentation and transformation of the industry with Travis Morrow of National Self Storage and Storelocal; and the playing out of possible future scenarios for the industry with Anne Mari DeCoster of Storelocal. The unConference will feature a special guest as well: Danny Akaka, Jr., vice president and director of the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, who educates the public about Hawaii’s culture and history. He attended the 2009 and 2011 Self Storage Hawaii unConferences to help attendees “get a better feel for the marvelous places and the wonderful people of the Hawaiian Islands.”
“The participants help craft the agenda and help lead the presentations,” Jordheim says. “The unConference style makes for very relevant and personal exchanges. Many people will come a few days early and stay a few days afterwards to enjoy their trip.”
An Unforgettable Format
In addition to the calming crystal-blue waters, exotic flowers, and breathtaking beaches of Hawaii; the upscale luxuries and countless amenities of the Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa; and the numerous unique experiences to be had, the unConference offers a format unlike any self-storage conference you’ve ever attended. With structured mornings and unstructured afternoons and evenings, this setup is anything but ordinary. As Jordheim notes, the relaxed agenda of the unConference promotes “amazing discussions in a beautiful setting.”
“It’s a different approach,” he says. “It’s more of a retreat than a conference.”
What Jordheim means is that the unConference’s more open itinerary and smaller group size produce thought-provoking conversations that tend to result in exceptional solutions and ideas. For example, instead of a trade show floor with rows and rows of vendor tables that attendees may not visit, the unConference enables vendors to join in the discussions and receive valuable feedback that could result in new products or services.
“They are more involved in the conference,” says Jordheim, adding that they become part of the learning and sharing experience. This provides all attendees and vendors with new perspectives, enabling them to make suggestions and take away insights that may not have come about in a more traditional, time-restricted conference/trade show setting. In other words, the unConference isn’t carefully calculated appointments and sessions; it is about forming new relationships or nurturing existing bonds than sales pitches. It is casual dialogues among self-storage professionals who share one common goal: to help their self-storage business reach its full potential.
Per the unConference website, “The mood of our gathering and unConference creates great businesses relationships. Our unConference attendees will remember the great experiences our self-storage vendors and sponsors make possible for them.”
The same principle holds true for attendees. The unConference is meant to be memorable, “feed your soul, and build your business influence.” Jordheim, who is glad to be spearheading the event, says it is a great time to make new connections and reconnect with industry friends as well as family. In fact, participants are encouraged to bring their spouses and/or families for some island enjoyment. They can attend the evening reception on Tuesday for a minimal fee. Plus, there is plenty of “downtime” to plan family excursions and fun in the sun.
The 2021 Self Storage Hawaii unConference is only a few months away. “We’re getting a great response from past attendees and sponsors,” says Jordheim. As of mid-May, the unConference sponsors include:
• Mini-Storage Messenger
• The Storage Group
• Janus International
• Storage Structures, Inc.
• Cover Roofing Solutions
• Everbrite Coatings
• Charity Storage
• Call Here
• Store Here
• Late 2 Lien
• SkilCheck Services, Inc.
• Automated Security
• Jordheim Consulting
• Conversion Sciences
There are several different tiers of sponsorships available: Supporting Sponsor at $500, Lava Level at $1,000, Surfside Level at $2,500, Ocean Breeze Benefactor at $5,000, and Koa Wood Champion at $10,000. To become a sponsor, visit www.hawaiiunconference.com or contact Jordheim at Tron@selfstoragestrategies.com.
A Beautiful Time
The unConference is sure to be a manawa nani (beautiful time), so don’t miss your chance to network with your self-storage peers in paradise! Aloha!
Space is limited to 100 attendees, so visit www.hawaiiunconference.com to reserve your spot in paradise. Use coupon code “ministoragemessenger” to receive a $100 discount. COVID-19 mitigating practices will be in place to ensure a low-risk environment; face masks are recommended.
To make room reservations at the Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa, visit https://book.passkey.com/event/50161823/owner/51680/home/group.