According to Andrew Darmohraj, senior vice president of the American Pet Products Association, this year's Global Pet Expo is shaping up to be the biggest yet.
*Special Global Pet Expo Coverage*
How does the size of this year’s Global Pet Expo compare to previous editions?
Andrew Darmohraj: Well, I’m happy to report another year of growth. In fact, we surpassed last year’s booth totals three months before the show and ended up with a nine-percent increase. The number of companies has increased by eight percent.
On the buyer side, we’ve had consistent growth year after year, and I expect that to continue this year. But pre-show registration only tells part of the story; approximately 30 percent of our attendees register on site. So while our projections show that we should see an increase in buyer attendance, we don’t really know by how much yet.
Are there any new features to this year’s Global Pet Expo?
Darmohraj: We’ve expanded the Retailer Excellence Awards with additional categories so we can honor more of the independent retailers that are so important to the industry. We’ve also expanded the Natural Pet section of the show floor—it’s about 25 percent larger than it was last year.
Although it’s not a new event for us, I want to mention an exciting feature of Friday’s APPA Professional Women’s Network Breakfast [7:30 - 9:00 a.m. in room W 209C of the convention center]. This year, Victoria Stilwell [celebrity dog trainer] will be giving a presentation about what she has been able to accomplish not only in the pet world, but in business in general, from the perspective of being a female entrepreneur. It’s going to be a very interesting and interactive event, with plenty of time for questions and answers.
Have you seen any other trends within the specialized show floor areas (The Natural Pet, Everything Aquatic and The Boutique)?
Darmohraj: Well, they all sold out early, so there is definitely a desire among exhibitors to be positioned with like-minded companies. It makes the show so much easier for buyers looking for a particular type of product. When you’re talking about 14 football fields worth of exhibit space, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Buyers can just go into one of those areas and know that they’re going to find a majority of the products that fit their particular store. And, of course, it makes the show much more productive for the exhibitors in those areas as well.
Last year, Global Pet Expo offered a mobile site that exhibitors and attendees could use to get information about the show, including news about exhibitors’ show specials. Will you be offering a similar site this year?
Darmohraj: Yes, but we’re moving away from doing just a show-time-only app to a micro-site that will be live year-round. Today, people rely so heavily on smartphones and other mobile devices that we felt it was important for us to have a mobile Internet presence all year long, to make it easier for people to learn more about the show. During show days, it has the floor plan, exhibitor contact information, an appointment scheduler and a list of show specials. To access all of that information, an attendee simply just scans a QR code [on the cover of this issue].
Once again, Global Pet Expo was honored as part of Trade Show Executive magazine’s Gold 100 list for being one of the 100 biggest trade shows of 2011. What does this honor mean to you personally, and as an organization?
Darmohraj: Anytime you’re recognized as one of the best at whatever it is you do, it’s an honor. We have a very small and dedicated staff that puts in a lot of effort to not only accommodate new exhibitors, but also keep established exhibitors coming back. It is a year-round job. We’re always working with our members to make sure that we are providing them with what they need to have a successful experience.
It’s pretty impressive that the pet industry has one of the top shows among the 10,000 trade shows that take place in the U.S. every year. It really is a sign of how strong and important this industry has become.
Next year, Global Pet Expo will take place in March. Were there any specific reasons for this change?
Darmohraj: Our goal has always been to host the show in the early part March, but since we only started working with Orlando—the second biggest trade show city in the country—on a annual basis a few years ago, it has taken some time to get an ideal set of dates. For 2014 through 2016, we’re confirmed for the first couple of weeks in March, and we’re hoping we can do the same thing for 2017 through 2020. j