Perspectives: Let's Go To Vegas!

 

Goodbye, Zoom. Hello, Mandalay Bay!

The PPAI Expo 2022 is happening, and you can expect the full PPAI show experience. Sales are exceeding expectations and distributors have been registering at a swift pace since registration opened in late September. We expect The PPAI Expo in January to be slightly smaller than in 2020, but the industry’s largest and longest-running show promises to offer attendees and exhibitors the matchless experience they have come to expect.  

The PPAI Expo is more than just the approximately 20 hours of show-floor time with nearly 1,000 exhibitors; there are numerous other activities to look forward to, including:

  • Large distributor and supplier annual meetings and events
  • An all-day education conference on Monday, January 10, including SAGE training
  • Product showcases including New, Made in USA and Eco-friendly products
  • The Power of Two party
  • Expo Live
  • Collisions

Collisions? Yes, collisions. Collisions is a term that Tom Goos brought up about The PPAI Expo when he was chair of the Board, referencing the valuable conversations that come from spontaneous “collisions” that occur between people at the industry’s largest show. No other industry opportunity brings more suppliers and distributors together in a single location, giving us all the best chance at valuable collisions. There’s no replacement; collisions only take place in person and no number of Zoom meetings can create a similar opportunity. 

In-person events are back. I’ve been traveling the country for several weeks, attending in-person events and seeing firsthand how vital in-person events are to our business. The conversations I’m having are not conversations that would occur via phone, Zoom or email. I’ve had several in-person conversations that have been invaluable to me as I have been leading the Association and industry over the past few months. The insights gained from these conversations help me see a clearer picture of what is occurring and what you need to fully get back to business. In years past, I have had many “aha” moments at The PPAI Expo from collisions with others that shaped my thinking and approach to the challenges I faced during the year. The education offered at The PPAI Expo is always on target, but sometimes the collisions add even more value than the education.

As I write this in late September, I’ve attended three regional shows in the past three weeks, during the height of the COVID health challenge, and attendance at all shows has been strong. Nearly all exhibitors I’ve spoken with have expressed how valuable the shows have been to them in terms of connecting in person with distributors and having meaningful conversations. Attendees have told me the same thing, over and over. Most people are exhausted and uninterested in more Zoom meetings. To be clear, I’m a fan of video meetings, as my colleagues will tell you. They are helpful for maintaining valuable relationships and working on specific challenges. However, video meetings only supplement in-person conversations—they can’t replace them. In fact, despite working remotely for the past nine years (in Tampa with my colleagues in Maine when I worked for Geiger), I averaged a week or two each month in the Maine office specifically because of the value of the face-to-face interactions. The video meetings were invaluable, but the in-person meetings allowed the video meetings to be especially productive.

Not everyone is ready for in-person events yet, but those who are, are more than ready to do business, and the majority clearly want to be in person as evidenced by all the events taking place around the country. For those who aren’t ready yet for in-person events, PPAI will once again host our PPAI Expo Direct-2-You virtual event in late February. Last year’s virtual show was a great success when we couldn’t hold an in-person show. It will also be a bonus for those attending The PPAI Expo as they will be able to solidify their gains experienced in Las Vegas. 

Schools are open. Restaurants are open. Bars are open. Businesses are open. The PPAI Expo registration is open. See you in Las Vegas, January 10-13, for what will be an amazing event to kick off the new year! 

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Dale Denham, MAS+, is president and CEO of PPAI.

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