Countdown To The PPAI Expo
It’s back! After a year’s hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions, The PPAI Expo is returning in person to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, starting with The PPAI Expo Conference on January 10 and the opening of the trade-show floor on January 11-13, 2022, with more than 900 exhibiting companies and tens of thousands of products on display.
PPAI organizers have been working for months to plan a show that not only provides a healthy, safe and comfortable environment for all in attendance but a show experience that reinforces the many reasons why The PPAI Expo is the place where the industry meets and engages every year.
“It’s important for our community to come together,” says Alan Peterson, vice president of business development at PPAI. “It has been way too long without this significant event that has over half-a-million gross square feet and thousands of products. People who want to get back to business and set themselves up for the future need to be at this event.” Peterson says he’s heard from both attendees and exhibitors about the significant events they are planning around this show. “It’s potentially going to be the most important The PPAI Expo in the past 20 years,” he says. “It may not be the largest—but it will be two-to-three times larger than any other industry in-person show—and it will be the most important one for those who want to do business. That is paramount, and The PPAI Expo will start off the year in a great way.”
For decades, The PPAI Expo has been the catalyst for industry businesses to kick off sales and make the business connections that fuel their success. “In our industry, there’s nothing more important than touching and feeling products—that’s one of the reasons promotional products work,” says Ellen Tucker, CAE, director of business development and expositions. “Our products are tangible, and we need to experience that hands-on feeling. That’s why we need to be on-site and in person.” She recalls being at in-person event recently and hearing someone say, “virtual is an extension of the handshake—it is not the handshake.” “Virtual has had its place and has been so important to the survival of businesses over the past year and a half,” she says. “But we need to get back to the physical handshake because there’s no better way to start a connection than in person.”
Peterson adds, “We believe the show is going to be extremely strong. While it will look a little different around health and safety, it’s still going to be massive with the number of product pavilions, the number of sponsors, the number of large distributors doing on-site meetings and events, and the investment that PPAI is making in new opportunities to further enhance the experience. We’ve seen exhibitor and attendee interest continuing to build. I’m confident it’s going to be a wildly successful show.”
“We’re having the largest Expo in the industry,” says Peterson. “It’s been almost two years since we’ve been able to get together as an industry, see products and have those significant, in-person encounters. While not new historically, The PPAI Expo 2022 is new in this ‘new world’ we are all now in, and we’re doing everything we possibly can to enhance this experience. I fully believe this is going to be the most important PPAI Expo in several decades.”
When attendees return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, where the show has been held since 2003, they’ll notice significant renovations. Among the upgrades, the cobblestone flooring in the walkway between the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and the convention center has been replaced with a smooth surface that’s easier on the feet and in April, the hotel completed the final phase of its resort-wide renovations on all 3,209 guestrooms and suites as part of a six-year, $100 million project. This summer, the adjacent Luxor completed upgrades on 1,715 standard rooms in the Pyramid and the Mandalay Bay has transitioned to a Cat6 internet infrastructure, which will enhance the internet experience for attendees and exhibitors alike.
Planning The PPAI Expo 2022 was an opportunity to reexamine and adjust almost every aspect of the show, and attendees will see some welcome changes and additions. One significant addition is The PPAI Expo Conference on Monday, January 10—a full day of curated education sessions presented by speakers inside and outside of the industry. The Conference was designed to maximize attendees’ time and allow them to focus on learning in a single day, instead of scattering sessions throughout the week.
Get tickets early for what is sure to be the most social-post-worthy special event of the year. Promopalooza brings show attendees together on Wednesday, January 12 from 6:30-10 pm at the spectacular Allegiant Stadium for an evening of tasty eats and drinks, with plenty of opportunity for networking, dancing and simply taking it all in at one of the Vegas Strip’s newest landmarks. This extraordinary venue also offers some of the most breathtaking panoramas in all of Vegas. It will undoubtedly be the best welcome-back-to-in-person-events party of the year.
With the health and safety of attendees, exhibitors, vendors and PPAI staff being the No. 1 priority for PPAI show management, facility protocols were a key consideration. Mandalay Bay Convention Center has been awarded the GBAC STAR facility accreditation by Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), the world’s leading trade association for the cleaning industry, meaning that the facility maintains a cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program to minimize risks associated with infectious agents like the coronavirus. It also adheres to proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques and other practices to combat biohazards and infectious disease using highly informed cleaning professionals who are trained for outbreak and infectious disease preparation and response. Additionally, the entire Mandalay Bay resort, including the exhibit halls, is equipped with an extremely efficient ventilation system that provides 12 full air exchanges per hour and is equivalent to the standard found in hospitals and other medical venues.
Additionally, the PPAI Expo show rules regarding health and safety precautions will remain fluid and based upon local and federal laws, and Mandalay Bay rules and regulations. The latest on these can be found at expo.ppai.org/healthpitality.
The PPAI Education Conference kicks off on January 10 with an 8:45 am welcome and the 9 am general session, "Breakthrough Thinking For Breakthrough Sales," with speaker, author and veteran hospitality industry executive Simon T. Bailey. It’s followed by a second general session panel discussion, “Leading Through Adversity,” facilitated by PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+. The third general session, a panel discussion, “Building A Framework For Diversity, Equity And Inclusion In The Workplace,” is moderated by Johanna Gottlieb, HALO VP of sales, Midwest.
Sixteen additional breakout sessions are offered throughout the day on topics including marketing campaigns, the new economy and tech tips to increase efficiency, so attendees can tailor education to their specific needs. The Conference is free to PPAI members and $99 for PPAI associates and nonmembers. Most sessions are 60 minutes and include CAS or MAS credits. Browse the full schedule with times and speaker bios at expo.ppai.org/schedule.
Seeing new products, visiting exhibit booths and walking the trade-show floor is the No. 1 reason why attendees say they are eager to come back to The PPAI Expo, according to the results of a recent PPAI PromoPolls. Sixty percent of respondents said they will be at The PPAI Expo for the show itself, 20 percent said they are coming because it’s the industry’s homecoming, 18 percent are looking forward to networking and after-hours events with colleagues.
Returning to an in-person trade show after participating virtually in the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You in January 2021 means adjustments for some industry exhibitors. With the ongoing supply issues and fewer employees in some cases, some companies are choosing to ease back into in-person exhibits with smaller booths that they can stock and staff more easily. As a result, the footprint of The PPAI Expo 2022 will be slightly reduced compared with 2020, but the number of exhibiting companies is closing in on 1,000, meaning the ratio of exhibitors to distributors is expected to be comparable to past years’ shows.
Even with the smaller footprint, The PPAI Expo 2022 will encompass a half-million gross square feet of exhibit space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and promises the exceptional combination of innovative products, creative ideas and reliable resources that attendees have come to expect from this show.
Exhibits open on Tuesday, January 11 with the Product Pavilion Sneak Peek from 8-9 am in Hall F, adjacent to aisle 500. From there, attendees can stop by the brand. pavilion in aisles 500-900 for the latest in branded and incentive products, and see decorating equipment in action at DECORATE in aisles 5100-5300 for what’s trending in screen printing, embroidery and digital technology for decorating promotional products. The Product Pavilion in Bayside F, adjacent to aisle 500, will be where attendees can quickly find curated collections of products by category including New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA Products, Healthpitality Products and 1st-Time Exhibitors Products.
The PPAI Expo is the place to do business—both on the show floor and off. Attendees say one of the top reasons they come to the show is for the networking and to be part of a tight-knit promotional products community that helps breed business success. Five events are planned at the upcoming show; some require tickets or advance notice, so check it out at expo.ppai.org/experience/events. Tickets can be purchased when registering for The PPAI Expo.
▶ PPEF Glen Holt And Fran Ford Memorial Golf Tournament
Monday, January 10, 7:30 am - 2:30 pm, Bali Hai Golf Club
Pre-registration is required. Email: SaraB@ppai.org
▶ Chair’s Leadership Dinner
Monday, January 10, 6 - 9:30 pm, Mandalay Bay Ballroom J
PPAI’s Icon Awards presentations include Hall of Fame, Distinguished Service Award, H. Ted Olson Humanitarian award and PPAI Promotional Product Pioneers awards.
Ticket required. Advance tickets: PPAI members $150, PPAI associates $175.
▶ Women’s Leadership Conference Networking Event
Tuesday, January 11, 4 - 5 pm, Beer Garden on the trade-show floor
Pre-registration required. Free, cash bar.
▶ SPARK Networking Event
Wednesday, January 12, 4 - 5 pm, Beer Garden on the trade-show floor
Pre-registration required. Free, cash bar.
▶ Technology Leaders Networking Event
Wednesday, January 12, 4 - 5 pm, Beer Garden on the trade-show floor
Pre-registration required. Free, cash bar.
▶ Promopalooza: The Expo Party, Hosted By PPAI and SAGE
Wednesday, January 12, 6:30 - 10 pm, Live from Allegiant Stadium,
3333 Al Davis Way, Las Vegas
Ticket required. For prices, see expo.ppai.org/experience/events
As show veterans will agree, working The PPAI Expo effectively and efficiently requires planning and preparation—and comfy shoes. “Plan ahead as you have in the past,” says Tucker. “The show is still the largest in the industry by two or three times, so make the most of your days. Look at the schedule ahead of time. Know where you want to go and who you want to visit. Make appointments to see your suppliers.”
For help in creating a walk list for the show, download SAGE Mobile, the official show-planning app of The PPAI Expo. This app allows users to find the most efficient show-floor routes, view an interactive floor plan, connect with fellow attendees in real-time, add notes and photos, and search by product categories to make the most of their time on the floor. Users can also expedite badge pickup using SAGE Mobile to locate their registration. Then, go to the Quick Print area to scan and print the badge. Download the app at www.sageworld.com/sage-mobile-expo.
▶ Sunday, January 9
8 am – 5 pm Exhibitor Move-In
▶ Monday, January 10
7:30 am – 5 pm Registration
7:30 am – 2:30 pm PPEF Glen Holt and Fran Ford Memorial Golf Tournament (pre-registration required)
8 am – 5 pm Exhibitor Move-In
8:30 am – 5:30 pm PPAI Expo Conference
6 – 10:30 pm Chair’s Leadership Dinner (ticket required)
▶ Tuesday, January 11
8 – 9 am Product Pavilion Sneak Peek
9 am – 5 pm brand. and Product Pavilions open
9:30 am – 5 pm Exhibits open
4 – 5 pm Women’s Leadership Conference Networking Event (pre-registration required)
▶ Wednesday, January 12
9 am – 5 pm Product Pavilions open
9:30 – 5 pm Exhibits open
3 – 4 pm SPARK and Technology Leaders Networking Event (pre-registration required)
6:30 – 10 pm Promopalooza: The Expo Party, Hosted By PPAI and SAGE, live from Allegiant Stadium (ticket required)
▶ Thursday, January 13
9 am – 2 pm Product Pavilions open
9:30 – 2 pm Exhibits open
PPB asked distributors across the industry to weigh in on what they are looking forward to most about returning to The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas next month. The anticipation and excitement in their responses confirmed that the industry is primed to reconvene in person at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite suppliers in person, touching and feeling new products and garments, meeting new suppliers, connecting with old friends, the excitement of the show floor and the ideas I will take away from the show.
American Printing & Promotions
I have missed the Expo and look forward to returning. My company is in a rural area, so I don’t have reps coming by or [regional association] meetings to attend. The networking and education offered at Expo recharges my passion, energy and focus. Seeing all of the new products and trends keeps me on top of what’s new, and keeps me relevant and an asset to my clients. The business that results from sharing what I see on the floor with my established clients sparks their interest and provides touchpoints for new clients as well. Attending the Expo helps to complete our annual business plan. C’mon Expo!
Debbie Mangano, MAS
We Promote You
Port Angeles, Washington
As an industry focused on the tactile sense, I am most looking forward to seeing products in person. After more than a year of virtual shows, it will be great to reconnect with suppliers and other distributors alike, while supporting the live events/trade-show industry—a key vertical often served by our very industry. And of course, I also look forward to drastically increasing my daily step count and the abundant delicious eats Vegas has to offer.
Ryan S. Feigenblatt, MBA, MAS
Founder and President
The Boca Ratonian
Boca Raton, Florida
It’s my first time going to The PPAI Expo since I joined my dad in the business four years ago. I am so excited to connect with colleagues and suppliers and see the unusual and hard to find. I have a few agency clients who ask me to find unique items from time to time.
[I’m looking forward to] promotional products made in the USA. My top account, a major pipeline company, has adopted a policy of buying products made in our country. In 2021, my 49th year in the industry, for the first time most of my sales will be of products made in USA. It’s also my best year ever!
I’m super excited to reconnect with my out-of-state suppliers who I haven’t seen in two years, and to thank suppliers that helped us survive and thrive during the pandemic. They turned on a dime to provide face masks, sanitizer, etc. I’d like to shake their hands.
I’m looking forward to getting back to normal. Getting back to long walks past an absurdly overcrowded Starbucks to get to the show floor. Getting back to walking 10 miles a day on carpeted concrete, in hopes that I’ll find that one “what’s cool” item for a client back home that I really want to stand out. Getting back to seeing, touching and feeling products, even if I have to apply insane amounts of hand sanitizer to do so. Getting back to spending endless hours in casinos, bars and restaurants to make and foster industry connections. Getting back to seeing my peers—no, my friends, that I’ve missed incredibly over the past two years.
If I’d have known on January 16, 2020, that the world would be flipping upside down and coming to a standstill a mere two months later, I might have looked and listened a little harder. I might have been a little more patient with long lines at booths and overpriced food court restaurants. I might have shaken hands and hugged necks a little longer with my friends. But I’m looking forward to making up for all of that very soon.
Chris Clark, MAS
Radius Marketing Solutions
I am looking forward to tired feet because I want to see everything that is offered. I want to be well informed for my clients.
Lori Lechner Kasberg
Promotional Concepts Unlimited, LLC
This event was my first introduction to this industry and was the catalyst for my decision to join the party. There is no replacement for personal interaction with people who I rely on to support my growing business, and with the opportunity to learn and grow from the people I meet. This will be a celebration for all who attend, and also a lot of fun.
Scott Cappel, MAS
Sorento Mesa Promo
San Diego, California
Find all the details about The PPAI Expo, including hotel and airline discounts, the full schedule and the registration link at expo.ppai.org.
For those who can’t make it to The PPAI Expo, and also for those who attend the show but want a second chance to visit with exhibitors and see new products, PPAI will again produce Expo Direct-2-You, a virtual show experience coming to a computer near you.
“Historically, Expo has been on the calendar and the place where everyone goes. This year is a little different,” says Peterson. “People are making personal choices that might be budget-related or health-related and we understand that and are prepared for that, both in terms of making attendees comfortable on-site and offering an alternative if health, safety and travel concerns keep them from attending.” He adds that Expo Direct-2-You also gives an opportunity to attendees and those who can’t attend to stay engaged in the industry, especially for industry workers who typically wouldn’t attend the show to participate in the February virtual event.
Mark your calendar to login on February 22-24, 2022, for two days of virtual exhibits, online education and creative networking events. Be notified when registration opens for this one-of-a-kind experience by submitting the interest form at expo.ppai.org/direct-2-you-experience.
Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.