Sue Kolonick (right) and Mary Kolonick and  from exhibitor Sport System in Woonsocket, New Jersey, head into the Expo East show floor.

The doors opened at Expo East in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this morning, marking its return to a June time frame; for the past two years, it was held in March. The show, running through Wednesday at the Atlantic City Convention Center, brings an experience similar to The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas to the East Coast, with the same high level of exhibits, education and networking events.

“Expo East’s shift back to the more traditional summer schedule has been very well received by the industry,” says Darel Cook, PPAI director of expositions. “We consistently hear positive comments from both distributors and suppliers. Booth sales are up, and distributor pre-registration exceeded last year’s total. We anticipate a very successful show.”

Attendees from across the region will come through Expo East’s doors this year to meet with 320 exhibiting companies at 395 booths. Expo East is supported by the industry regional associations in the Northeast—the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA), the New England Promotional Products Association (NEPPA), the Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association (PAPPA), the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) and the Three Rivers Advertising Specialty Association (TRASA). However, about six percent of the show’s registered attendees are coming from outside the region, from as far away as Arizona, California, Tennessee and Texas.

Today at the show, Expo East’s extensive education schedule kicks off, with 30 sessions across seven tracks—Strategies & Solutions, Corporate Responsibility, Industry Essentials, Marketing & Advertising, Decorate, Sales & Service and Technology. Attendees can pick the right classes to expand their professional playbook, explore new opportunities and move their careers ahead.

Mike Devaney, owner of Calico Enterprises in Pleasantville, New Jersey, was among the attendees at today’s education sessions. He explains what drew him to arrive early for education. “I need to get educated on using social media better,” he says. “I’m kind of a dinosaur when it comes to that, so I always get something out of these sessions. I’ll go to some sessions today, then work the floor tomorrow and Wednesday, and I’ll ask who uses their product and how can I use their product. The exhibitors are very helpful; that’s why I’m here.”

Also today, Expo East’s Power Luncheon introduces sales professionals to the future of social media. Aimed at industry members wanting to stay on the forefront of current technology, the Power Luncheon features technology strategist Crystal Washington.

New to Expo East this year is Connections Corner, a series of free interactive roundtable discussions to be held this afternoon. Connections Corner is a casual, unique networking opportunity that not only informs, engages and empowers attendees, but expands their professional circles as well. Held on level four in the 412 Foyer, the six Connections Corner sessions bring industry practitioners together to discuss a wide range of topics. More information on the Connections Corner schedule can be found here.

Throughout the day Tuesday and Wednesday, Expo East’s Show Floor Professional Development sessions make it easy for attendees to integrate their education opportunities into their time meeting with exhibitors. The free, hour-long sessions on the show floor explore several subjects important to industry professionals. All the sessions are in the Professional Development area on the show floor, located near Registration.

Expo East education is open today until 5:30 pm; exhibits are open Tuesday, 9:30 – 4 pm (the Product Pavilion Sneak Peek is from 8:30 – 9:30 am), and on Wednesday from 9:30 am – 3 pm.