Going to the NAA Education Conference and Exposition is a treat that many of us take for granted. The reality is that the significant cost involved with attending keeps many property management professionals from making the yearly trek. On-Site decided to do something about that.

For our Win a VIP Trip to NAA 2013 contest, we randomly picked two lucky individuals from more than 1,500 entries and sent them to NAA San Diego. This prize package, valued at more than $2,000, included round trip airfare to America’s Finest City, three night’s hotel accommodations, a full conference pass to NAA, entrance to the NAA Opening Party and the On-Site sponsored After Party at Float rooftop lounge and a $100 Visa gift card.

Our first winner, Patty Holt of Jefferson Apartment Group hadn’t attended NAA since New Orleans in 2010.

Patty Holt

Patty arrives in San Diego.

Our second winner, Dorothy Smith of Univesco was attending NAA for the first time.

Dorothy Smith

Dorothy arrives in San Diego.

On Friday I had the opportunity to catch up with On-Site’s two VIPs and ask them a few questions about their NAA experience.

On-Site: Who was your favorite speaker from the conference?
Patty: Eric Wahl was the best. Watching him paint onstage was amazing. He starts with a black canvas, adds color and in less than five minutes he has a finished painting. The unusual way that he paints shows how we can all get out of our normal routines and be creative about solving problems.

Dorothy: At private events he talks to CEOs and makes them write in crayon. It helps them think outside of the box—what he calls “unthinking.”

[Wahl is an artist and author of the 2013 book Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius.]

On-Site: Was there any other speakers you found especially motivating?
Patty: Vernice’s story and message was very inspirational. It’s amazing what she’s been able to accomplish. We all have “clearance to engage” and pursue our dreams.

Dorothy: We can all “take off” from where we are in life and pursue our life’s ambition. If we fail there’s always a reason why—something good has got to come out of it.

[Vernice “Fly Girl” Armour is the author of the 2011 book Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. Armour served as the United States military’s first African American combat aviatrix.]

On-Site: This was the biggest NAA ever. Any thoughts on the trade show floor?
Dorothy: The first time I walked onto the show floor I was amazed—it’s huge.

Patty: It’s very impressive. The people at NAA were saying it’s the size of four football fields.

On-Site: What was the funniest booth or product that you saw?
Dorothy: The self-service dog wash. It’s like a car wash, but for dogs.

Patty: We have them at some of our properties and residents love them.

On-Site: What’s the best part about being at NAA?
Dorothy: Networking—making new connections is the best part.

Patty: Seeing people you haven’t seen in awhile is a lot of fun. In fact, I just saw a former coworker I hadn’t seen in seven years.

Dorothy: People don’t leave the apartment business. You see someone one day and the next time you see them, they’re working for another company and you ask, “Wait, weren’t you just at that other company?”

Patty and Dorothy

Patty and Dorothy stopping by the On-Site booth at NAA.

On-Site: Is there any advice you’d give to future NAA attendees to help them make the most of the conference going experience?
Patty: Come in with an open mind, have fun and be thinking about how you can apply the things you’re learning back at the office.

Dorothy: Find the sessions and learning tracks that interest you and plan your week out around them.

On-Site: Any parting comments?
Patty: These past few days have been very nice. Thank you On-Site.

Dorothy: Everything has been over and beyond my expectations. Thank you so much.

For more on the Win a VIP Trip to NAA 2013 contest:

On-Site Awards Two Winners a VIP Trip to NAA 2013