Rennie Schafer, CEO, Self Storage Association UK provides an overview of this year’s FEDESSA conference in Barcelona.
On 5 October, self storage owners, managers, investors and suppliers made the trip to the Crowne Plaza Fira Centre in Barcelona for the annual FEDESSA European Conference & Trade Show. With 445 people attending over the two-day event, this was the most highly attended conference held by FEDESSA, beating the number of attendees in London and Amsterdam in the previous two years.
The event was a huge success, with a range of speakers over the two days, covering topics such as the European economy, revenue management, and marketing at a local level. One of the most anticipated speakers was Kevin Gaskell, former managing director of Porsche GB and BMW GB, who with a proven record of managing growth, shared his experience in managing both staff and customers more efficiently to get the best results for your business. Another popular speaker, Phil Jones, provided a fresh understanding on sales, reminding the audience that although business is serious, it should also be fun.
The sessions also included a number of panel discussions, on topics such as a global perspective on self storage, which saw the CEOs of the major self storage associations across the world come together to discuss the market globally, and an investor and industry panel which discussed the future of the industry. At the end of the second day, delegates had a chance to speak directly with some of the speakers and industry experts in a round-table session. The round tables were well attended with people having detailed discussions based on the issues raised over the two days.
This year’s event also hosted the largest self storage trade show outside the USA, with nine new exhibitors, bringing new innovations and ideas to the industry. Of course, there were also the experienced suppliers returning with their expertise and long-standing support of the industry.
The large number of attendees and new suppliers is an indication that the industry continues to grow. This was backed up by data from the European Annual Survey, released on the morning of the first day of the conference. This is the fifth European Annual Survey to be released and the second to be produced in conjunction with property advisors JLL. The survey shows a 6% increase in the number of self storage facilities in Europe in the past 12 months, with an estimated 2,746 facilities. The survey also showed that over three quarters of operators expect next year to be more profitable and many are looking to expand over the next three years.
The FEDESSA conference also included networking events each evening. This year, the Welcome Dinner took around 270 people to the Poble Espanyol, one of Barcelona’s most iconic sites, to hold an evening brimming with Spanish culture and authentic craftsmanship. It was a night full of the tastes of true Spanish cuisine, in a beautiful setting, with entertainment throughout the night from mime artists, stilt walkers and a guitarist, all finished off with a fantastic firework display.
On the second night, the Gala Awards Dinner was held at the Crowne Plaza, celebrating the achievements of the industry. This year’s awards were the most highly contested to date, with an amazing amount of high quality nominations. Shurgard Europe won the Facility of the Year Award with its site in Friedrichshain, Berlin; and Manager of the Year went to Richard Locke from Storage King (UK), with a Highly Commended Award being presented to Kirsty Rigby from Apex Self Storage as a very close runner up in the Manager of the Year category. NESTA won the Charity Initiative Award and Attic Self Storage the Business Initiative for its new website. There was also a new award this year, the Extraordinary Achievement award that went to Rony Krämer from Lagerbox in Germany.
During the conference, it was announced that the European Conference & Trade Show will be going to Berlin next year on 17 and 18 October, 2017. With the anticipated growth in the industry during the next 12 months, the conference is set to be even bigger and better.
Click here to see the next Editor's Pick