Promotional Product Professionals of Canada’s (PPPC) Natcon Virtual took place last week. Running September 16-17, the show drew more than 800 attendees for professional development sessions, opportunities to connect with industry colleagues and an extensive trade-show experience.

"I couldn't be happier with the success of Natcon Virtual,” says Jonathan Strauss, president and CEO of PPPC. “Everything about this event was a first for us and for the industry, and the feedback has been amazing. Our internal projections were for 500-750 attendees over two days and we have exceeded that. Natcon Virtual showed that PPPC continues to be glue that keeps the Canadian industry together."

Natcon Virtual’s trade show “floor” featured 33 “booths” and 206 supplier reps on hand. The event’s online nature made measuring traffic and interactions simple. Distributors made more than 11,500 booth visits during the show and connected with reps over 9,000 times during its two-day run. Those interactions translated into more than 17,600 product views and over 16,500 downloads of booth materials.

The show’s 18 education sessions, presented by PPPC, PPAI, SAGE and suppliers, also drew strong numbers. PPPC reports that attendees viewed the line-up of professional development seminars and discussions almost 1,500 times over the course of the show.

Natcon Virtual kicked off with a live discussion on the state of the promotional products industry with a panel discussion featuring leaders from around the world. Strauss was joined by Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO; Carey Trevill, CEO of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA); and Wesley Fawaz, CEO of the Australasian Promotional Products Association (APPA). Their conversation gave a global perspective on a range of issues, including how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the promotional products industry, and how their countries were responding to it. The panelists discussed the industry’s opportunities in personal protective equipment (PPE) and its challenges, the future of events and tips on doing business in the coming years.

“When you’re in the procurement business, the entire relationship is based on price and ability to deliver,” said Bellantone. “We keep waiting for things to go back to normal, but our normal wasn’t perfect before the pandemic began. We should be selective about what we bring back to normal about our industry, and how we can be part of the solution to old and new issues.”

Strauss concluded the live discussion, noting, “The purpose of our association, like all of yours, is to bring our country’s community together and bringing these insights from around the world just helps us strengthen the Canadian community.”