Three years have passed since the baking industry convened in Las Vegas for the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE). With the 2019 show just weeks away, attendees are busy preparing for the Western Hemisphere’s largest industry show.

Before exhibitors and attendees arrive in Las Vegas for this year’s expo, which runs Sept. 7-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, preparing requires more than double-checking plane reservations and hotel accommodations. To get the most out of IBIE, attendees should do some homework before stepping onto the show floor and develop a game plan to ensure the best use of their time.

“Plan ahead for IBIE,” said IBIE Attendance and Marketing Task Force Chair Dave Watson, vice-president, engineering, Pepperidge Farm and packaging systems engineering, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, NJ. “This is a massive show with so much to see and do. The more planning you do in advance, the more value you’ll get out of attending.”

The IBIE experience differs greatly for every individual depending on his or her objectives heading into the show. Identifying those priorities is crucial.

“Everyone should think about what their top priorities are and what they want to get out of attending IBIE,” Mr. Watson said. “Are you looking for new equipment to automate? Are you looking to reduce waste? Your show plan should really revolve around your objectives for attending.”

Mr. Watson advises attendees visit to identify the exhibitors they want to see and to make appointments in advance. Each supplier’s information is available on the web site, and by doing advance research, attendees will better understand who’s exhibiting and what they want to see when they get there.

“It’s great to talk with suppliers face-to-face,” Mr. Watson said. “Many of them bring their engineering staff, so we can ask technical questions and interact with products and equipment in person. You can’t get this level of intimacy online or by looking through catalogs.”

While planning is vital, Mr. Watson also suggested attendees give themselves some time to just explore.

“I always recommend allowing for free time to walk the show floor,” he said. “You never know what you’ll run into, and we have a lot of emerging, innovative suppliers at our show.”

The same strategy applies to show features and floor demonstrations, including the Innovation Showcase. Attendees can view the innovations being displayed at the show ahead of time via the web site. A total of 64 new industry innovations, developed within the last three years, will be on display for the duration of IBIE.

Attendees should also take the time to look at this year’s educational offerings and identify sessions that offer the most value, Mr. Watson recommended. There are more than 100 sessions in the IBIEducate program, each tailored to different segments of the industry.

After the 2016 show, organizers received feedback that attendees wished they had more time to devote to education, Mr. Watson said. As a result, this year IBIE is offering a full day devoted to education on Saturday, Sept. 7, before the show floor opens. This gives attendees more time to focus on education without sacrificing time on the show floor, he said. To register for the day of education, or any sessions being offered throughout the show, visit the IBIE web site.

One of the easiest ways to stay on track and in the know at the show is to download the IBIE Mobile App, Mr. Watson suggested. Attendees can use the app to organize and “favorite” exhibitors and events during the Expo, in addition to a number of other features to help everyone make the most of their time on the show floor.

There also will be an information booth located in the Grand Concourse. The American Bakers Association and BEMA will have a booth in the Central Lobby and the Retail Bakers of America will have one in North Hall.

While planning and research are key to a successful IBIE, some of the most important takeaways from the show can’t necessarily be anticipated.

“It’s been three years since the last IBIE and three years until the next one,” Mr. Watson said. “There’s a lot of change that happens in that time frame, so it’s important to be here.”

Making connections and taking time to have conversations about the industry can have as much of an impact as any demonstration or education session being offered.

“We learn from each other as much as we’re learning in the classroom and on the show floor,” he said. “IBIE is a great chance to meet with colleagues from around the world to share ideas, discuss challenges, make strategic connections and work together to advance the global grain-based food industry.”