Venturing into a room full of strangers can be intimidating, but members of NATSO’s Future Leaders Program shared these tips for first-time attendees.
Take Advantage of Opportunities to Meet New People
Whether it is saying hello to a stranger on the show floor or striking up a conversation with the person next to you at an educational session, members said meeting new people is one of the top benefits of the show. “I was gun shy at my first NATSO show, but came to the realization quickly that meeting and greeting people was the best thing I could do. Today I have a contact list that I can call or email and discuss current issues and address them,” said Nick Wollenman, Deluxe Truck Stop.
Deanne Schatz, Fargo Stopping Center, agrees. “Go to as many events as you can and mingle,” she suggested. “Now, with the Future Leaders Group, our goal is for you to meet people before all the events, so when you do go to training, participate in events etc., you see familiar faces.”
Arrive Ready to Learn
Learning opportunities abound at The NATSO Show. “Go in with an open mind,” Wollenman said. “It can be seriously overwhelming, but there are a lot of people that can share an enormous amount of great info.”
Schatz said, “There are so many diverse folks and locations, that it’s fun to get together and learn what each individual is experiencing, and what does and does not work for them. Then apply it to your own facilities.”
Attend all Educational Sessions
Wollenman advises first timers to take advantage of the break out sessions and the speakers that are available. “Tremendous knowledge can be gained,” he said. “The learning opportunities that I gained the most knowledge from were a couple of the breakout sessions last year. One of the best the and most informative sessions was the bio diesel session last year. I learned a tremendous amount about that segment of our industry.”
Schatz said, “Be sure to take part in the breakfast/lunch training sessions. There are some excellent speakers to learn from.” She added, “I think “Great Ideas for Independent Operators” is an awesome way to get new ideas and steal some ‘secrets’ for saving money, etc.”
Join the Future Leaders Program
In an effort to connect those that are emerging as leaders in the travel plaza industry, NATSO has created the Future Leaders Program, which is allowing members to connect on a whole new level. “I have honestly made great relationships just from last year due to the future leaders event,” Schatz said. “There are so many of us that have just come and participated, but really never connected with anyone. I think that being a part of that group has really created networking opportunities that weren’t there before.” Learn more about the program.