PPAI Expo 2015 Recap

Prior to my third year attending the annual Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo in Las Vegas I had reasonable expectations of being excited, educated, overwhelmed, socially enlightened and tired. In the past we have gone with a couple members of our team but this year it was just my wife and I that made the trip. My wife works in real estate so this was her first close encounter to the promotional world. What a treat she was in for. (see the pic above as evidence of our attendance. Thanks Charles River Apparel!)

Excited – In 2014, 11,000 distributors from 4,000 different promotional companies gathered to attend classes and speak with more than 1,300 exhibitors. This year seemed to have very similar attendance, if not more. Any time you get that many motivated people under one roof, the excitement becomes contagious.

Educated – The first two days of the show consist of all class time. Some of the industry’s best professionals line up to tell their story and share their unique experiences of success and struggle. The classes are broken up into a few main categories which include but are not limited to sales and service, technology, decorating and business development. I specifically attended 3 full classes and parts of a few others. The three classes that I learned the most in were Billing Accordingly For Your Time by Joe Scott, Troubleshooting and Coaching Sales by Troy Harrison, and Selling by the Numbers by Joel Schaffer.

Overwhelmed – The last three days of the event are focused on the product exhibits. On top of the 1,300 exhibitors there are specific product showcases that highlight New Products, Green Products and Branded Premiums. You could spend an entire day alone in those 3 product showcases. After you find your way out of there it’s off to meet and greet your most trusted suppliers to touch and see what is new to their lines. After that, it’s pretty much a mad scramble to take in as much else as you can about different product and supplier options that are available throughout the country.

Socially Enlightened – After spending a week in Las Vegas whether it is good or bad you come back with a little more knowledge about our society. All the latest retail items are available in endless retail shops throughout the casinos and every type of person imaginable is out walking the strip every night. My best experience outside of the expo this year was going to the Michael Jackson ONE Cirque Du Soleil show. A couple close seconds were dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s and watching the college football championship with the Rambow guys.

Tired – Every year I wonder how many miles I walk going to and from the expo, up and down the exhibitor isles, and then up and down the strip. Truth is though, I really don’t want to know because it’s probably not as much as I think and then I’d just be embarrassed by how tired I am. Also, direct flights from Las Vegas to Fargo are great but somehow we always get caught on the 7AM departure back. That means check out is at 5 which is a lot of people’s bed time in Vegas. I’m pretty sure my wife and I were both lights out before 9:30 on Wednesday night this year.

If I removed all the emotions from the PPAI Expo 2015 and just talked about product,s I could write another blog just as long as this. But, the products that I would want to talk about are better seen in person than they are in a blog post so please reach out to me if you are ready to see what’s new for 2015!

Matt Oye

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