Getting Ready for SuperZoo
With the 2015 edition of SuperZoo right around the corner (July 21-23, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas), Pet Business caught up with show organizer Doug Poindexter, president of the World Pet Association, to discuss what buyers and exhibitors can expect from this year's show and how retailers can get the most out of their SuperZoo experience.
Pet Business: What are some of the key features that buyers should be sure to take advantage of at SuperZoo? Are there any new features or features that have changed from years past?
Doug Poindexter: At SuperZoo, buyers have access to a show floor teeming with exhibitors who are eager to engage with and help provide them with the products they need to run a successful business. Buyers should read over our exhibit hall floor plan early and map out which booths they want to visit; with over 970 exhibitors on a sold-out show floor, it’s important to plan enough time to fully explore the expo to ensure nothing gets overlooked.
I recommend starting the show floor tour at the New Product Showcase, which brings all the latest product releases and innovations together in one designated place. Also, SuperZoo’s networking opportunities are key for buyers. They’ll get a chance to discuss products and sales strategies with suppliers and compare an incredibly wide selection of products side by side—something you can’t do anywhere but at SuperZoo.
Although the keynote and concert special events are not new to SuperZoo, the 2015 keynote by Keni Thomas and concert by Heart are not to be missed. Plus, with the added Networking Reception on Tuesday night, SuperZoo participants will have access to several great opportunities to learn from each other outside of the classroom setting.
PB: How has segmenting the show floor into specialty sections improved the SuperZoo experience for buyers and exhibitors?
Poindexter: As SuperZoo and our show floor expand, so does the selection of exhibitors and their product offerings. This is a great thing—so long as buyers can still find what they are looking for. Segmenting the show floor enables our attendees to easily find the products that mean the most to them.
PB: What can buyers expect to find at this year’s pre-show seminars? What topics will be covered?
Poindexter: This year’s pre-show seminars are the most comprehensive SuperZoo has had to date. Buyers will be exposed to effective strategies and indispensable insights through targeted sessions offering proven solutions to help them increase traffic, strengthen customer loyalty, merchandise better and sell more effectively. Topics being covered this year will include:
• Social Media Boot-camp for Pet Retailers - New
• Making SuperZoo Work for You
• Cause Marketing for Retail Stores - New
• How Content Marketing Can Grow Your Pet Business - New
• Mining Diamonds in Your Own Backyard - New
• Create Your Winning Strategy for Pet - New
• How You Can Utilize the Management and Leadership Skills of the Titans of the Business World to Grow Your Business
• How to Increase Sales Using Simple Merchandising Techniques - New
PB: What types of issues will be tackled in the School of Animal Wellness?
Poindexter: This year, our experts in the School of Animal Wellness will touch on issues in animal nutrition and pet food ingredients, fish, reptile and bird topics, small-animal health, and grooming brushes and combs.
The School of Animal Wellness will also host two panel discussions with animal nutrition experts: “Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates: Controversy or Consensus?” and “Pre/Probiotics for Pets vs Humans.” Both discussions promise to spark a great dialog on current trends in the pet industry.
In my opinion, these free seminars are often untapped resources at SuperZoo, and I urge attendees to set aside time for these short, concise sessions right in the expo hall.
PB: What are some of the other stand-out sessions that will be part of SuperZoo University?
Poindexter: We are very proud of SuperZoo University, as it’s the largest educational program in the industry. This year, attendees will find outstanding sessions on topics spanning the industry, covering product trends and merchandising techniques, animal health and wellness, retail market conditions, successful business strategies, social media and online shopping. Some specific stand-out sessions this year include:
• Identify Profit Improvement Opportunities Using the WPA Retail Operating Performance Report
• Inventory Management
• Advanced Visual Merchandising Techniques
• The Retail Sales Academy
• How to Differentiate Your Pet Store from the Big Box Around the Corner
With such a robust array of choices, pet retailers are sure to find sessions that will speak directly to their pertinent business concerns.
PB: Tell us about the keynote address at this year’s SuperZoo. Is there a theme for this year’s address?
Poindexter: We are very excited about this year’s keynote, which features former elite U.S. Army Ranger Keni Thomas and centers on motivating individuals to be the best they can be. Keni is known for inspiring audiences as he recounts the struggles and successes that he and his fellow Army Rangers experienced during the Black Hawk Down special operations mission—the basis for the hit movie. Keni stresses the importance of leadership and encourages people to achieve excellence in every aspect of their lives.
Attendees should keep in mind that the keynote is a free session for all SuperZoo attendees, though reservations are required and should be made in advance.
PB: What can attendees expect from the Groomer SuperShow this year?
Poindexter: This year’s Groomer SuperShow will feature three packed days of sessions, beginning with two special sessions on Monday: “Ready – Set – Go! Prep – Bathe – Dry!,” presented by Teri DiMarino, and a CPR and first-aid course presented by Judy Hudson and Judy Routley.
Beyond these special sessions, attendees will have a chance to participate in 12 additional grooming and special services sessions on Monday, and more sessions on dog training, day care, boarding, spa and grooming on Tuesday and Wednesday.
SuperZoo will also present grooming demonstrations on a Bedlington, Scotty, Westie and more.
I also recommend attendees stop by the grooming contests featuring contestants competing from around the world. These groomers are top of their class, and there is certainly something to be said for learning through observation. The Tom McLaughlin Groomer Super Jackpot first-place winner will receive $10,000 and a championship trophy.
PB: Do you have any tips for buyers attending SuperZoo? How can they make the most of their trade show experience?
Poindexter: SuperZoo is a wonderful opportunity for buyers to form new relationships with suppliers and strengthen existing ones. At SuperZoo, buyers have the unique opportunity to discuss their ideas and concerns with suppliers face-to-face, and I would encourage buyers to reach out to colleagues and suppliers beforehand to set up meetings in advance; buyers can pick their brains for advice on product sales strategies and make deals right on the show floor. Suppliers are your business partners—when you succeed they succeed too.
Here are some quick tips to make the most of the SuperZoo experience:
Be sure to download the SuperZoo mobile app. Buyers will be able to plan their itinerary, search for sessions, navigate the show floor and connect with exhibitors straight from their phone.
Make sure to fit in a little time for fun. We build our event around the idea that those in this business are passionate about what they do; we work hard year round, and for that reason, SuperZoo has several fun special events offered exclusively for SuperZoo attendees.
PB: What can the industry expect in the future from SuperZoo?
Poindexter: I don’t want to show all of our cards, so to speak, but the pet industry should expect great things from SuperZoo in the coming year. We are adding a little bit more of everything and hope to bring an even more dynamic and meaningful experience to attendees.
One spoiler: we’ll be expanding the show floor into the two new halls Mandalay Bay is building as we speak.