PPAI Magazine November 2023

Before picking up and settling down in Las Vegas, back when The PPAI Expo was still flooding the rooms and hallways of the Dallas Convention Center with promo professionals, the event had already been considered a can’t-miss industry event for decades. Since moving to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in 2002 – one of the first events to be held at the then newly constructed complex – The PPAI Expo has only added to its arsenal of offerings every year. The fact is, everyone goes to The PPAI Expo, a notion that’s almost taken for granted at this point. It’s a well-oiled machine, one that takes a lot of work, but always brings twice the payoff. Those of us inside the walls of PPAI headquarters are so busy making sure the event has everything members have come to expect – from maintaining its status as one of the biggest trade shows in the country, to all the educational sessions at The PPAI Expo Conference to organized meet-ups and celebrations like Promopalooza – and developing new innovations that keep it fresh, that there’s almost no time to think about which of those aspects of The PPAI Expo is bringing any given attendee back every year. So, PPAI Media finally asked the question: Why do people keep coming back? We figured some come back because of what they want to replicate. Some come back because of what they missed the last time around. Because you simply cannot do it all. You can’t connect with all the people you’d like to. You can’t attend every educational opportunity. You can only do so much business in a room with countless potential partners. But why speculate when we can simply ask some Expo veterans to take a stroll down memory lane? So, we reached out with a fairly simple question: Do you remember the moment you knew that you’d be attending The PPAI Expo every single year? From our conversations, most promo professionals described what can be grouped into two key dynamics, what I am referring to as the Wow moment and the Aha moment. The Wow moment usually happened pretty quickly, and it’s a feeling that can only really be summed up with that one word. You probably know what we’re talking about if you’ve experienced 9 a.m. on Tuesday when The PPAI Expo show floor opens. The Aha moment happens a little later. It’s the point when attendees realize that the most daunting part of The PPAI Expo might not actually be the most essential part. We’ll explain shortly. But perhaps Kirby Hasseman, owner of Hasseman Marketing & Communications, put it best when he said, “The PPAI Expo is overwhelming in such a good way.” The Sheer Size (The Wow Moment) You can read the numbers. You can grow your client list and your partner list over time. But if The PPAI Expo does anything for first-time attendees, it drives home the sheer size of the promotional products industry. “Attending Expo the first time was really the first wakeup call I had to the vast world that is promotional products,” says Josh Robbins, president of Vault Promotions. As a supplier, Robbins was on the exhibitor side of things on the trade floor at The PPAI Expo. That first Tuesday morning, he was set up in a booth with hundreds of other suppliers hoping to find new partners to do business with. It would be easy to wonder if there would be enough distributors to go around. But as anyone who has attended knows, waiting on the other side of those doors was a crowd of eager people rivaling any indoor environment you’ve ever seen. It must feel like a stampede coming your way. Except it’s full of smiling faces and trade show floor maps. Kirby Hasseman Hasseman Marketing & Communications … X The PPAI Expo is overwhelming in such a good way. Must Read | The Expo Experience 76 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI