What Aquatic Experience Attendees Can Expect When This Year's Show Moves East
One of the year’s top aquatic shows will take the plunge in a new location this October as Aquatic Experience 2018 moves to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. The show’s organizer, World Pet Association (WPA) seeks to match or exceed the success of the 2017 event in Chicago, where 21 percent growth made it the most attended to-date.
Aquatic Experience is where retailers of all sizes can gain fresh perspective to help start or maintain a competitive business. Whether it’s tips on how to keep a business afloat in a changing market or how to take a brick-and-mortar store online, pet specialty retailers can hear applicable advice from subject matter experts at the show. WPA also boasts that attendees in search of new products and business solutions will find everything under the sun—or, rather, the sea—on the show floor. It’s the ideal place to re-energize a passion for aquatic retail, refresh business practices to appeal to both existing customers and a new generation of aquatic fans, and move forward into the future of fish keeping, WPA officials say.
This year, Aquatic Experience will tap in to all things social and digital media, and seeks to address top concerns of today’s retailers. Through sessions such as “Building and Maintaining a Thriving Aquatic Business in Today’s Digital World” and “Are Your Customers Finding You on Social Media?” business owners will get tried-and-true tips to boost business with the touch of a keyboard. And, for those looking for even more extensive training, the full-day Fish Health Management Course is a must, WPA officials report.
“Aquatic Experience has established a longstanding reputation as a leader in the aquatic industry,” said Zach Franck, exhibit sales—aquatic specialist for the WPA. “With consumers’ changing interests and shopping habits, aquatic retailers need to shift the way they think about their business, and this show is a great place to see emerging trends, source new products and stay on top of customer demands.”
The Northeast has long been a thriving location for aquatic businesses and provides a perfect setting for retailers to discover new trends, innovative products, and proven strategies to stay competitive and profitable in today’s changing environment. At the show, marine and freshwater professionals have the opportunity to source the latest, top-selling products, learn business-building strategies from industry experts, get quality facetime with other retailers to share challenges and discover solutions, and enjoy the lively atmosphere and proximity to attractions in the surrounding tristate area.
“All in all, Aquatic Experience is the event I most look forward to every year,” said Patrick Donston, Aquatic Experience speaker and owner of Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J. “Just when I think there’s nothing more to learn about aquatics, I come away with new insight, new knowledge, new solutions to common industry challenges and new connections with fellow aquatic enthusiasts every time.”
Aquatic Experience will take place in Secaucus, N.J., Oct. 19-21.
Ahead of the event, Pet Product News spoke with WPA president Jacinthe Moreau about what attendees can expect at this year's event.
Pet Product News: Aquatic Experience brings together hardcore hobbyists, families, product manufacturers and retailers. What is the vision behind the event?
Jacinthe Moreau: We’re excited to create an event that unites the passion of so many people and helps drive the industry forward. Aquatic Experience 2018, which will take place in Secaucus, N.J., encourages each attendee to “Immerse Yourself” in the world of aquatics. With more than 61,000 square feet of exhibits, displays and products, hobbyists and families will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with retailers to discover everything from saltwater to freshwater with the exciting new craze, aquascaping, in addition to pond and marine animals. For retailers and manufacturers, this is their time to find out what really attracts their customers and feeds their bottom line.
PPN: The show has grown over the years. Is there anything new this year? What exciting events are happening at Aquatic Experience?
Moreau: Attendees have so much to look forward to at this year’s event with exciting components like Aquascaping Live! and other competitions, as well as a full trade show floor. As a leader in aquatics, WPA values ongoing education that meets consumer, retailer and industry needs, featuring an “Ask The Vet” for consumers and offering customized educational programming for retailers, especially around attracting new and returning consumers in this digital age. Much of the programming focuses on digital solutions and maintaining a thriving aquatic business. We’re also pleased to offer the popular Fish Health Management Course, where retailers and hobbyists get hands-on experiential training that can be applied to their daily routines.
PPN: How would you say the aquatics segment of the pet trade is faring these days? Is it growing? Is there room for future growth?
Moreau: There are quite a few challenges for retailers of fish and fish-keeping supplies, but also many opportunities for growth. The popularity of online shopping is making it critical for independent retailers to distinguish their product and service mix to appeal to new and returning customers. Technology-based innovations—connected aquarium care, like apps for lights and sensors, widely available UV filters, nano tanks and more—are successfully driving store traffic as customers look to test new tech before making their purchase. We know that for the aquatic segment to grow, it’s important to be a resource for hobbyists who rely on businesses to keep them informed on what’s new and trending. Aquatic Experience will help retailers by highlighting emerging trends and hosting a one-stop shop to stock up on featured new products.
PPN: What role does a show like Aquatic Experience play in the general health of the aquatics category? What do you hope to achieve?
Moreau: We strive for success, which, for us, comes in the form of well-informed and adaptable independent retailers who are armed with the best information and products to keep loyal customers and attract new audiences. With retailer success comes success for the aquatics segment as a whole, but also other segments of the pet industry; it’s recognized that people and kids who get enthusiastic about fish tend to also get involved with other pets. Kids develop a lifelong appreciation and responsibility towards having a pet when they are fish keepers at a young age.
PPN: What value does the event hold for retailers and exhibitors in the aquatics segment?
Moreau: You’ll find the full range of aquatic life at Aquatic Experience. While many will segment the industry into freshwater and saltwater animals, we unite the industry with expansive resources that help retailers and exhibitors of all sizes. You’ll walk away with fresh ideas gleaned from subject matter experts, replenish your stores with the “what’s new” section on the dynamic trade show floor and create valuable new connections with fellow aquatic enthusiasts. This is the best place to discover new trends and strategies to stay competitive in today’s market.
PPN: What does the future hold in general for Aquatic Experience?
Moreau: Our goal for the future is to keep providing a space for retailers to connect and find solutions that will help shape the future of the aquatics industry. Aquatic Experience is the event where this knowledge-building and solutions-based planning takes place, and it will continue to be a leader in industry innovation and vision.