How do I plan my Petfood Forum experience?

How to set yourself up for success so you can hit the tradeshow floor running.

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Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg
Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg

Petfood Forum 2018 is a global event, drawing pet food industry members from all over the world. Over three days, attendees can attend interactive workshops, walk the tradeshow floor, sit in on education sessions, and participate in several formal and informal networking opportunities. For a first-time attendee, it can be overwhelming to decide just how to get the most out of such a multifaceted experience.

Getting started

Have you registered yet? If not, there are multiple options to ensure you get to experience everything you’re aiming for. Whether you want full access or are just visiting for a day to check things out, Petfood Forum has the right registration for you. Among the options:

  • Petfood Forum and Petfood Innovation Workshop Combination Pass: This is the complete package, giving you access to the full calendar of Forum and Workshop events.
  • Petfood Forum Full Conference Pass: Can’t make it to Workshop? Get a pass to Forum alone, and gain access to all networking events, the tradeshow floor and educational sessions for the entirety of the conference.
  • Petfood Innovation Workshop Only: If you’re on a tight schedule and want to participate in a day of interactive workshops focused on the “New Product Development Journey,” this one’s for you!
  • Forum Day Pass: Choose a day and attend all the available education sessions, as well as having full access to the tradeshow floor.
  • Petfood Forum Exhibit Hall Only Pass: If you aren’t interested in the educational sessions but would still like to hit the tradeshow floor, you can get this pass and spend a day of your choosing during the show interacting with more than 300 industry exhibitors, including suppliers, co-packers and service providers.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll need to turn your attention to logistics. The Forum website has an entire section devoted to ensuring you can quickly and easily make hotel accommodations (with links to take advantage of our special conference room rates), plan for transportation once you’re on the ground in Kansas City, and find the best area parking.

Managing your time at Petfood Forum

Petfood Forum is an immersive mix of networking and education, the tradeshow experience and the latest industry trends. If you want to do it all, it will take some planning to ensure you don’t miss out. For pre-planning purposes, the full agenda and speakers list can be found on the events website, with a day-by-day breakout of sessions and a separate tab for the Petfood Innovation Workshop schedule.

You’ll want to take particular note of keynotes and general sessions — they tend to be quite popular and if you want a good seat, it’s best to show up a few minutes early! This year, Jack Hanna, host of the Emmy-Award-winning television series “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” will kick off the conference portion of Petfood Forum on April 24 along with some of his animal friends. The general sessions on both April 24 and 25 will focus on industry trends and customer behavior and are not to be missed.

The concurrent session tracks for 2018 are Nutrition, Ingredients, Marketing and Processing & Safety. If your interest is strongly in one of these categories, you can settle in the appropriate room and spend the day learning about the latest information and research on your chosen topic. But make sure you take a look at the sessions happening on each track, just in case — the timing of the sessions ensures that you can jump tracks as much as you’d like, sitting in on a nutrition session and then switching rooms to a marketing talk if it catches your eye.

The roundtable sessions are equally rich in content, with topics focusing on insect protein, pet food market trend predictions, and how to attract and retain company talent.

Prior to the show, Petfood Forum will release a downloadable mobile App that includes the full show schedule, along with the option to create a customizable personal schedule to ensure you don’t miss anything.   

Additional pre-show planning musts

  • Set your goal(s) for your time at Petfood Forum. Is networking your primary aim? Take note of all the social opportunities Forum provides so you can make the most of them. Are you looking for education? Stay on top of the various session tracks and plan your time accordingly. Whatever your focus, having a goal will help you navigate the show in the most effective way possible.
  • Set up appointments ahead of time. Petfood Forum provides plenty of networking opportunities in larger group settings, but both the convention center and the surrounding area of Kansas City’s Power & Light District also provide endless opportunities for smaller group or one-on-one meetings. Whether you prefer to do business over drinks, in a conference room or at a restaurant, your options are abundant.
  • Plan some time for yourself. If it’s your first time at Petfood Forum, there’s something to be said for just taking it all in. Make sure you give yourself time to walk the tradeshow floor, enjoy a good meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in the surrounding area and wander the conference center layout. There’s a lot to see and do at both the show and in Kansas City — take advantage!
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