This morning, PPAI opened the “doors” on its first live, virtual trade show, Expo Direct-2-You. For decades, PPAI members have been convening at the Expo every January to kick off the year with new product introductions, education sessions, meetings and networking events. Although this year’s show looks very different, its objective remains the same: to engage members and facilitate their ability to do business.

PPAI is delivering this one-of-a-kind, virtual, live event, starting today through Thursday to the laptops, desktops and other devices of more than 15,000 registered distributors, and employees and reps at nearly 500 supplier companies who are taking part in the show as exhibitors. As of last Friday, the number of pre-registered distributors at this virtual show was the highest recorded since the PPAI Expo in 2015.

When it was first announced last September that PPAI wouldn’t be able to hold a live show in Las Vegas and would instead create a new, virtual experience for members, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, promised the same quality and scope of event that members have come to expect at The PPAI Expo. “While we could have created a basic virtual trade show, we chose not to stop there. Working with PPAI’s technology partner, SAGE, our staff and board have gone far beyond the expected by building a truly unique event with education sessions, live Q&A, pop-up events, gamification, networking lounges, social events and a live master of ceremonies sharing highlights and interviews throughout the four days of the event,” he says.

At 8 am CT, a number of areas within Expo Direct-2-You opened, including niche networking lounges and the Product Pavilions, showcasing the latest in the key categories of New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA and PPE Products. The show floor opened at 10 am, ushering in fresh trends and the latest designs in apparel and hard goods for 2021. Just like at an in-person show, distributors were able to create their walk lists in advance and will take notes on what they’ve seen and heard using handy tools available on the D2U platform.

Education has long been a core element of the Expo, and it continues to be a key component at this year’s virtual event with a broad array of scheduled and on-demand programming being offered daily by PPAI, SAGE and commonsku. And to keep things really interesting, PPAI has scheduled multiple networking and social events such as tonight’s Icon Award Event at 6 pm where PPAI will present its top honors celebrating the 2021 PPAI Hall Of Fame inductee Teresa Moisant, MAS; the 2021 PPAI Distinguished Service Award recipient Mark Abels, MAS; and the 2021 PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient Bob Waldorf, CAS. On Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, registrants can take part in virtual yoga sessions and on Wednesday afternoon, everyone is invited to grab their own beverage and join in the fun of an online piano bar.

“This show promises to be the industry’s most important and valuable virtual event yet,” says Ellen Tucker, CAE, PPAI director of business development and expositions and a key architect of Expo Direct-2-You. “I’m proud we were able to bring the unexpected and critical experiential piece to this virtual show while ensuring the three pillars for which Expo is known: community, knowledge and the ability to help our members to do business.”

In addition to building a multi-layered virtual experience for attendees and exhibitors, PPAI also provided comprehensive training through live and on-demand webinars to both participating distributors and suppliers to ensure a flawless experience.

Expo Direct-2-You is open through Thursday from 8 am – 10 pm CT and exhibits are open from 10 am – 4 pm CT. Registration has closed for today but will reopen on Tuesday morning. Distributors can register for the show here. An on-demand preview of the show with tips and tricks for distributors can be found here.