The PPAI Expo Excels In 2018

The PPAI Expo 2018, which wrapped up on Thursday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, delivered another strong show experience to attendees and exhibitors from across the promotional products industry.

“The PPAI Expo is so much more than a trade show,” says Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO. “It is the industry’s convention where relationships are built and strengthened, and community is nurtured. Distributor and supplier attendees have embraced our drive to take The PPAI Expo from great to extraordinary and were excited to see so many of their ideas implemented in the creation of the 2018 event. The tone is set for a successful and exciting 2018.”

Dale Denham, MAS+, chief information officer for Geiger and 2018 PPAI Board chair, says, “The PPAI board challenged the staff to take Expo from great to extraordinary; however, it appears staff is aiming for epic. There is always something that can be better, and PPAI will find it. Yet, at this Expo, I heard only positive reactions from exhibitors and attendees alike. I heard (and experienced) quality attendees, a well-designed show floor with excellent traffic, phenomenal speakers and great opportunities for learning as well as connecting on and off the show floor. Expo further solidified the show’s position as the place you have to be.”

Expo 2018 featured more than 1,200 exhibiting companies at 3,120 booths, and with preregistered distributor attendees from 4,500 companies, Expo’s 311,000 square feet of exhibit space saw vigorous traffic.

Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS+, CEO of distributor Competitive Edge and 2017 PPAI board chair, was thrilled with the outcome of this year’s show. “I heard many attendees comment that the 2018 Expo was the best ever. Everyone was enthusiastic and optimistic about the year ahead and our industry overall,” she says. “Suppliers commented that the distributors who visited their booths came with projects in mind and were more engaged than ever before. You could feel the excitement in the air. I was so proud of our entire team. We have the most dedicated and passionate professionals I have ever seen. This year it was all about the details. The team was tending to so many little details that made a huge difference in the attendee experience. We did our best to say ‘yes’ whenever possible.”

Joseph Sommer, principal at Whitestone Branding in Brooklyn, New York, was pleased to see how robust the brand. pavilion has become: “This is what our clients are asking for—co-branded products—and the brands are listening and entering our arena. Just this year, The North Face has become available through SanMar, which was huge. I saw brands like Bose offering a more cost effective smaller product which lends itself really nicely to decoration, and the Amazon Home and Google Echo were being offered by a wide range of suppliers, offering in-house branded services.

“One other thing I noticed this year is that non-name-brand products are becoming much more elevated in look and appearance. I think suppliers are noticing that companies are willing to spend on premium branded items, so long as they are high quality and have a retail look about them,” he added.

One other important aspect of the show that Sommer noticed was a change in demographics.  “The room is getting younger,” says the 28-year-old distributor. “Three years ago, I felt like the median age of people walking the floor was 45. This year it looked much younger—there were a lot more young professionals, especially on the supplier side.”

Judy Smith, who sells for distributor American Solutions For Business in Tukwila, Washington, said she was glad to be able to attend Expo again this year. “I really enjoyed the show,” she says. “It was very easy to find the vendors I was looking for.”

Judy E. Broyles, MAS, at distributor ADventures in Grand Prairie, Texas, adds, “Less than 24 hours after arriving in Vegas we knew, once again, that we had made the right decision to attend The Expo. Before we even stepped on the showroom floor, the trip was worth it. Great location, professional environment, well-planned education sessions, helpful staff and terrific speakers. Let me repeat—the opening session speakers were awesome. Just what we need in today’s world—positive attitudes with hopes and plans to make things better beginning with us and our businesses. Thanks to everyone for another wonderful Expo.”

The PPAI Expo returns to Las Vegas and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 13-17, 2019. Click here for more on the show and to register for notifications.

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Comments (3)
Tina Filipski
January 26, 2018
More than 13,000 distributor personnel pre-registered in advance of the show. We do not yet have final numbers for on-site attendance but the pre-registered number reflects a 4-percent increase over Expo 2017.
January 25, 2018
We had a great show and already landed 2 sales this week because of the show contacts we made :)
Michael McGrath
January 23, 2018
How many attendees this year? You state 4.500 companies but how many acutal people attended?- do you have that number? I'm just curious as to the annual attendance if up/down over the past 10 years. Thanks much.
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