Pet Connections Expo has come and gone. Held in New Jersey on October 15th and 16th, 2019, some of the pet industry’s most influential members and businesses gathered to network, teach, learn, and grow.
In this Insider post we’re going to give a brief review on our impressions of Pet Connections Expo, go over some pros and cons, and try to answer some questions that pet store owners might have regarding this expo, ultimately tackling the main one: is Pet Connections Expo worth attending? Is it worth taking a day or two off from your pet store to travel to?
Pet Connections Expo Review
Let’s start with some of our favorite parts and some of the highlights of this pet industry tradeshow.
It’s Not Massive
Part of the major appeal, for us at Pet Engine Marketing, was the number of people in attendance. We’ve heard that there were over 800 attendees at the expo this year. Whereas super expos such as Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo have thousands and thousands of people in attendance, the size of this expo created a much more intimate feel.
On our side of things, it was refreshing to see some familiar faces, to be able to remember the names of new connections, and not be entirely overwhelmed by people and things halfway through Day 1. At these huge tradeshows it can feel like there’s so much to take in and so much to do that there’s a very real possibility of missing out on other opportunites.
To tack onto this, the event hosted by Ziegler after Day 1 of the Expo was also really cool for the same reasons. See some familiar faces, get introduced to other people, and all in all just a great way to make new connections.
Maybe we’re a bit biased because we were one of the speakers of this year’s Campfire Sessions, but all in all our representatives were really impressed with the educational opportunities at Pet Connections Expo. Some of the opportunities included a Retailer Bootcamp led by Lynn Switanowski of Creative Business Consulting Group, a panel including Nancy Hassel of American Pet Professionals and Dr. Judy Morgan, and a Campfire sponsored and led by Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation.
There were a handful of other speakers that were really impressive as well, and here’s the big thing for us: Pet Connections Expo boasted the same quality, and in some cases the exact same people, as some of the speakers that are at events like Global and SuperZoo.
By the way, if you missed the Pet Engine Marketing campfire sessions, we’ll be releasing a written version of those this week so stay tuned, or schedule a call with us to really make some forward progress marketing your pet store.
The other positives? At Global and SuperZoo, if you want to chat with a speaker after their session, there’s oftentimes a line in which you’re losing time and missing other engagements. At Pet Connections Expo, the intimacy of these sessions allowed for a good amount of one-on-one time with speakers. They were always accessible and available.
Last thing regarding the sessions: the scheduling and style were excellent. Most sessions didn’t overlap, and the campfire talks being limited to 20 minutes kept everybody’s attention and didn’t drain too much time from your day.
Pet Connections Expo Review
We’ll admit it, Pet Connections Expo wasn’t perfect. Let’s get into a few of the ways that Pet Connections Expo can improve for next year’s show.
…It’s Not Massive
This is truly a double-edged sword. As we said before, the intimacy of Pet Connections Expo makes it different and makes it great. However, it’s also true that twice as many attendees could have fit within the event space and it wouldn’t have felt too crowded.
So, that’s what we think the goal should be for next year: 2x the attendees. We think that most exhibitors wouldn’t be unhappy with that, and if the leadership team at Pet Connections Expo are capable of bringing in that many pet industry business owners and representatives, then exhibitors would be happy to attend next year.
The interior of the expo hall itself didn’t have any issues, in our opinion. However, we feel it could be improved from a location standpoint in a few areas:
Exterior signage was minimal and dull. No fanfare, and no real signage along the route indicating that the event was taking place. Instead, a sign for a bead convention was in place.
The location of the expo itself was not in the most pristine area. It seemed to be in a business park, and as we know, sometimes business parks aren’t the most dreamy of places. It could be in a more centralized location, and being walking distance from nearby hotels wouldn’t hurt (although the hotel shuttle was a great feature).
Last but not least, having other tradeshows next door - not next door in the sense of the next door, but inside the same hall and just separated by blackout banners - made for some competition for presenters that used the sound system.
So, I think there are ways to improve the venue without having to change locations. Since next year’s show is already scheduled for October 13-14, 2020 and it’s in the same venue, they’ll just have to do a better job with what they’ve got!
Pet Connections Expo Review
We had a great time at Pet Connections Expo. As a tradeshow that’s still in its infancy (3 or 4 years old), it has a lot of room to grow but it’s got a great base. If they continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities for retailers and other petpreneurs while maintaining it’s intimacy and manage to achieve the large growth it deserves, it will truly really cement itself as THE fall event for the pet industry.
As a retailer and petprenuer, Pet Connections Expo is definitely worth attending, especially if you’re local in the northeast. We met a lot of great people from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. If you want to create a deeper relationship with your distributors, your manufacturers, and other vendors, then you’ll have the chance to do that at Pet Connections Expo better than you would at other pet industry tradeshows.
Overall, we had a great time and are looking forward to attending the 2020 show!
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