Attend Exchange Like a Pro!

GEAPS Staff has compiled this guide to assist attendees in making their time at Exchange as productive and stress-free as possible. There’s no “right” way to attend the conference nor is there a set number of sessions or events to attend. You should attend the Exchange with the plan to make connections, learn and have fun.

Planning for the Conference

What Should I Bring?

Business cards: You will be meeting a lot of colleagues within the industry, so be prepared to follow up after the show by exchanging business cards. A good place to stash your business cards is behind you name tag in the plastic sleeve. Just be careful not to accidentally give out someone else’s card!

Chargers: There are a variety of sponsored charging stations throughout the convention center, including charging tables within the GEAPS Booth on the tradeshow floor. Bring your charger, so you can keep your phone charged.

Comfortable shoes: With an expo hall bigger than five football fields, you will spend quite a bit of time on your feet. This is not the time to break in new shoes. Bring your favorite standbys so you stay comfortable all week.

Tablet or SmartphoneThe Exchange Mobile App is a great tool to help you make the most out of your time at Exchange. Whether you are using the interactive floor plan to connect with suppliers, taking notes on conversations with exhibitors, or using the app to complete speaker evaluations, a mobile device with a big screen will be really helpful. The app is available on Android and Apple devices, just search for GEAPS in your app store. Don’t worry about the mobile app using up your data plan. Wireless internet will be complimentary to all attendees within the convention center.

Build Your Schedule

There are nearly 40 hours of education at Exchange and lots of great networking events. To be sure you don’t miss anything while at the Exchange, build your schedule in advance in the Exchange Mobile App. While exploring the app, you can click the “star” icon for each session, event or exhibitor you are interested in and can see your customized schedule by going to My Sessions.

Name Badges

Make sure you wear your name badge every day. A name badge is required for entry to any/all Exchange events and programs.


The suggested attire for all conference functions and is business casual. Ties, suits and other business attire are also appropriate, but not necessary. The exception is the President’s Reception and Banquet Tuesday night, which is more formal, but not necessary.

Networking at the Conference

Attend the Mixer: VIP Event Exclusively For International and First Time Attendees

Join GEAPS Leaders, Membership Committee and Staff at an exclusive networking event. Make connections with colleagues from around the world and learn helpful tips for navigating the Exchange. GEAPS Leaders and Staff are always happy to answer any questions you may have about the conference.

Exclusive for International and First-Time attendees. Tickets will be included with badge at registration.

Get-Acquainted Party

This special event is a perfect opportunity to network at Exchange and a great way to mix and mingle withe fellow attendees. The atmosphere is easygoing and entertaining, a perfect event to start the conference off right.

This event is included in the attendee and companion full registrations and can also be purchased a la carte.

Fun Run/Walk

Start the morning and Exchange off on the right foot and head out for a refreshing 5k run along the Mississippi River.

Free event for all registered attendees and companions.

Expo Hall Welcome Reception

At the end of the opening day of the Expo Hall, we transform the tradeshow floor into happy hour! You can stroll through the tradeshow, while enjoying beverages and appetizers. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know a fellow attendee waiting in line for a beer or stop by a booth that you have had your eye on and connect with the exhibitors.

This event is free for all registered attendees.


The GEAPS Booth is located just inside the main entrance to the Expo Hall.  Stop by and learn more about GEAPS, or just say hello. GEAPS works to help members build their professional network, increase their overall knowledge of the industry and advance their careers. Learn how you can do this by networking at the Exchange or a chapter event, participating in educational programs or volunteering on a committee. You can also learn about what the GEAPS Foundation is all about, where future Exchange sites will be and what’s planned for the Leadership Conference.

Lunch in the Expo Hall

Lunch is provided every day in the Expo Hall. As you are standing in line, try striking up conversation with someone around you by saying something as simple as, “How are you enjoying the conference?”  You might just learn a few things that you would have otherwise missed. There is plenty of seating in the Expo Hall to eat your lunch. Branch out and sit with other attendees you might not know. Remember, this is the ultimate networking opportunity!

President’s Reception and Banquet

Delicious food, great conversation, and recognition of outstanding industry leaders make this closing event at Exchange highly memorable. The event will begin with a cocktail reception (drink tickets will be provided with purchase of a banquet ticket), followed by a three-course meal and an experience of a traditional Mardi Gras Parade with a variety of entertainers. The live entertainment features song, dance and crowd interaction which are sure to delight!  Following the banquet you’re invited to enjoy a complimentary tour of the float den.

A complimentary shuttle will be available from 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. circulating between Mardi Gras World, the Convention Center and the Exchange Hotels. 

Banquet tickets are included in attendee and companion full registrations and can be purchased a la carte. 

This was my first experience at an Exchange and I loved it. It was very informative and educational with the classes and every retailer you could think of. The Expo was a great time to shop around and look at different products on the market, as well as new technology being released. I really enjoyed it, and it won’t be my last one I attend.

Daniel Mayer

Riceland Foods Inc., Mid-South Chapter

Conference Sessions

The Education opportunities at Exchange are plentiful. The Exchange Educational Programming Committee puts a lot of time into determining what sessions to offer and gives attendees a variety of formats to choose from, including workshops, education sessions, hands-on Expo Pods and one-on-one speaker time.

A couple things to note when selecting a course:

  1. All sessions are based on GEAPS’ Core Competencies.
  2. Many education sessions qualify for partial continuing education unit (CEU) credit. CEUs are only available to GEAPS/K-State credential holders. Learn more about credentials.
  3. To help you find the most valuable training for this stage in your career, education sessions are labeled with an ability level. Learn more about ability levels. Read through the level descriptions and use them as a guide when choosing which sessions to attend.

During a Session

Sessions start promptly at the times listed in the schedule. There are many times, both before and in between sessions, where you will be able to get a cup of coffee or a bite to eat at the sponsored Wake-Up Stations and Energy Breaks. Most sessions will have a speaker and PowerPoint. GEAPS does not post PowerPoints online, but does post proceedings papers on the members-only section of

Many speakers leverage the in-session polling technology to make their session interactive. At the end of the session, be sure to let the speaker know how they did with a session survey. The survey can be accessed through the Exchange Mobile App and paper copies are also available on-site.  These surveys not only help our speakers get the valuable feedback they need to ensure their content is useful, but is used to guide programming decisions for future Exchanges.

Future Sessions

We are always looking for new ideas for education sessions in the future! After experiencing Exchange, if you have an idea, be sure to add it to the post-session surveys that are available after each session in the GEAPS Exchange Mobile App. If, after attending Exchange, you are interested in the development of Exchange Education, we invite you to join the Exchange Educational Programming Committee (EPC).

Lastly, if you are an expert in an important topic related to the grain industry and are interested in presenting an education session at the Exchange, you can apply to be a presenter. If you have any questions regarding the Exchange Education options, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Companions are welcome!

Interested in bringing a plus one?

If your significant other is attending the Exchange, they can take in the sights and flavors of New Orleans through the companion program, put together by the New Orleans Host Advisory Council.

Welcome Brunch: All registered companions are invited to a welcoming brunch to connect with others as we kick off the companion program. Experience some of the charm of the New Orleans’ French Quarter by having a Caricaturist skillfully create a one-of-a-kind drawing and a Typewriter Poet draft a personalized poem just for you.

Local Tours: This year, companions will get two tours to explore NOLA first-hand.

On Sunday, companions are in for a full day of history and fun as they begin the day with sultry tales of the French Quarter and learn where the term the “Big Easy City” comes from.

Companions will visit St. Charles Avenue’s mansions, Saint Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square and journey down to Esplanade Avenue to experience the uniqueness of the “Cities of the Dead.” The next stop is the famous Parkway Bakery and Tavern to indulge in a delicious New Orleans style Po-Boy.  Following lunch they’ll tour the bayous of Louisiana. On this meandering cruise, the captain, a native of the region, will provide an interesting and entertaining narrative of the history of the massive swampland while pointing out a number of animals that inhabit the area.

On Monday, companions will start the afternoon with a walking tour en route to the New Orleans Cooking School. Then, companions will relax while sipping on some libations and enjoying an entertaining narrative about life in New Orleans. Our lively chef will teach the steps in preparing traditional creole delicacies like gumbo, andouille jambalaya and bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Companions will sample these and other delicacies during lunch. No one will leave this day hungry! Treats and recipe cards will be provided to help bring the taste of New Orleans home to your kitchen.

The Get-Acquainted Party and President’s Reception and Banquet are included in all companion full registrations, or can be added to a companion base registration.

Explore New Orleans

The Host Advisory Council invites you to check out the place they call home!

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has also put together a website with a variety of local New Orleans information. Be sure to check it out when planning where to go to dinner and what to do in your free time.


GEAPS Staff will be visible by their bright green shirts during the conference and you can always find someone at the Registration Center in the Convention Center lobby or the GEAPS Booth just inside the main entrance of the Expo Hall. If you have a question about the conference, or GEAPS in general, go ahead and ask. We want to help you!

If you have a question in advance of the conference, feel free to send an email or give us a call at (763) 999-4300.

Get Connected!

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Thank you!

If you’ve already registered for Exchange, thank you! We hope you enjoy your time! Following the conference, please be sure to take our post-conference survey that will be emailed to you to give us feedback to continue to improve. As always, please reach out to GEAPS Staff at any point throughout the year with questions.