The PPAI Expo 2014, held last week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, was made one of the most successful in years by record numbers of distributor attendees and exhibiting suppliers from across the industry.
“The PPAI Expo is widely recognized as the premier event in the promotional products industry,” says PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE. “More than just the industry’s largest, longest running and most successful trade show, it is the annual convention where tens of thousands of industry professionals come for professional development, volunteer leadership, networking, product sourcing, market growing and relationship building. The 2014 Expo met the mark and delivered an exceptional experience. Attendees and exhibitors displayed an enthusiasm an optimism that I believe will propel our industry forward in 2014.”
Ken Kravitz, CAS, CEO of distributor Commotions Promotions, Inc. (UPIC: IDEASTAR) was also happy with his Expo experience: “The show is going great,” he told PPB on the second day. “We are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year so we brought our whole group here. This show is always valuable for us to get together.”
The industry’s significant turnout for the Expo points toward a strong year in 2014. Almost 1,400 exhibiting companies in roughly 3,250 booths filled the show floor, meeting with more than 11,500 industry practitioners from around the country and abroad.
Darel Cook, PPAI director of expositions and meetings, says, “This was the best show since 2009 and it exceeded all of our expectations. We had the most booth sales since 2009 and we will be right at the attendance for that year. There was standing room only in many education sessions—with 500 people sitting on the floor for Tony Hsieh [CEO of Zappos.com and Wednesday General Session speaker]. The Power of Two Party was the best attended yet, and we received very strong buzz from the attendees.”
Some of the Expo’s most popular and exciting products were on display in the Product Pavilions and brand. The Product Pavilions brought together the show floor’s most exciting products, organized into categories—New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA and Express Ship—to make them easy to explore. brand. educated promotional professionals on unique incentives selling strategies through education and product promotion, and it catered to retail-branded product companies.
Todd Gable, CEO of supplier Toddy Gear (UPIC: T516677) thought the traffic and quality of distributors at Expo was great. “From my perspective I feel people at this show come here to do business. They come from all around the world but they are here to really do something. At a lot of the other shows, people are there as what we call trick-or-treaters. They are just grabbing stuff. We like to do business with companies that are in it full time. PPAI is the right place for us.”
Jon Dubbs, CRP, MAS, principal of distributor Recignition LLC (UPIC: R572137) attended Expo after being away from the industry for a few years. “My niche is working with private schools and a few universities—they’ve been clients of mine for a number of years,” he said. “I’m here to get current, find out what’s going on and see long-time friends. I also spent a day in the SAGE presentations which were fabulous.”
A first in 2014, the Recognition Professionals International Annual Conference was held in conjunction with Expo. The co-location created the only international conference and expo specifically designed to promote engagement and interaction between promotional products professionals and incentive, recognition and engagement practitioners/providers. It brought in nearly 200 RPI members who browsed through the brand. pavilion and attended RPI education programs.
Sharon Menssen, director of marketing for supplier Beacon Promotions, Inc. (UPIC: BEACONP) exhibited both Beacon and Canyon Outback products. “The quality of the distributors we were working with and the amount of actual projects they have to work on is fabulous. We’re seeing a big increase in projects; and from a field perspective, we’re seeing the marketing budgets come back.”
Expo was also the venue for the launch of Product Safety Awareness industry education program. The program is designed to enhance industry-wide commitment and foster a culture where companies are not only aware of product safety but are leading the discussion at every level in the promotional products channel.
With more than 100 paid and free learning opportunities available, professional education proved particularly popular this year. Many of the sessions were standing room only. Covering 10 tracks—business management, product responsibility, industry essentials, marketing and advertising, decorate, sales and service, strategies and solutions, technology, supplier and SAGE—the lineup of education sessions and panel discussions was held throughout Expo, offering valuable insights and information for industry practitioners seeking to develop their skills and further their careers.
Find more coverage of Expo in the PPAI Expo Daily digital edition and look for a full recap of The PPAI Expo 2014 in the March issue of PPB magazine.