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Make a Game Plan for Global Pet Expo 2016

While mapping your show strategy, take a few cues from pet retailers who have been around the expo block once or twice.

One of the biggest pet industry trade shows is right around the corner. Have you packed your comfy shoes? Blister strips? Snacks? If you answered “check, check and check,” you’re well on your way to being ready for Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., March 16-18, but you might give some thought to your show floor strategy, too.

You’ll want to start by perusing the 2016 Global Pet Expo exhibitor list.

Retailers I spoke with agreed that it pays off to create a game plan before the show.

“I make a list of manufacturer booths that I know usually have good show specials and hit them up first,” said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. “Then I hit the new product section with a pen and paper to jot down booths I want to visit, because they do not let you take pictures in the new product section (and most manufacturers do not provide cards for you to take in this area).”

Cheri Zachow, manager of Natural Pet NW in Vancouver, Wash., maps her route ahead of time.

“I make a sweep through on my planned route and collect all order information and any other information that I need; sometimes it takes two days to do this,” she said. “Then I do an all-nighter (or late-nighter) and make my purchase run the next day. That has always worked the best for me and eliminates impulse buying.”

You might have to give yourself a little leeway to make some impulse purchases, though, after visiting the New Products Showcase. Last year’s Global Pet Expo highlighted nearly 1,000 industry introductions, and you’re bound to find some truly unique pet products in this special section.

To see who wins top honors, visit the New Products Showcase on Thursday, March 17, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nine winners will receive a Best in Show award in the following categories: Aquatics, Bird, Boutique, Cat, Dog, Natural Pet, Small Animal, Reptile and Point-of-Purchase Display.

Global Pet Expo is a big show that is jam-packed with new products, networking events and seemingly never-ending rows of booths to visit, and it can be overwhelming. That’s why Redwine recommends allowing yourself some time to decompress.

“After lunch, find a quiet place to look over your materials you picked up,” she said. “Or if your hotel is close enough, take a nap, then go back again.”

Getting from here to there will be a little easier this year thanks to the new complimentary shuttle service that will provide transportation between the Orange County Convention Center, where the show is taking place, and several surrounding hotels.

No matter how you prepare for the show, remember that some of the best moments of Global Pet Expo can’t be planned, and that’s part of the fun.

“Once I’ve seen what’s on my lists, I like to wander and see what happens,” Redwine said. “Some of the best products I’ve found I never planned to see—it just happened!”


Carrie Brenner is senior editor for Pet Product News International. She has spent several years researching new products with the help of her cat, Amelia.

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