That’s another show for the record books. The PPAI Expo 2024 wraps up this afternoon after an exciting four days at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Exhibitors and distributors both benefitted this week from the promo industry’s vigor and innovation.

PPAI is still crunching the numbers on The PPAI Expo 2024 but preliminary data points to this year’s distributor attendance registering a marked increase over 2023. By Wednesday afternoon, the show had exceeded 10,000 in verified distributor attendance. More than 16,000 industry professionals made it to The PPAI Expo 2024.

They were met with nearly 1,000 exhibiting companies filling more than a quarter-million net square feet of exhibit space.

“We are very pleased with attendance,” says PPAI president and CEO Dale Denham. “It’s also notable that there was weather trouble and flight cancellations that unfortunately made travel difficult or impossible for some people this week. On the floor, it felt like attendance was up over last year and the energy was good.

“More impressive than the numbers is that we are continuing to see the trend that The PPAI Expo is attracting a very high level of professional, and they are here to do business.”

PPAI Media spent considerable time on the show floor, walking the aisles and speaking with exhibitors and attendees alike. The conversations were universally positive and revealed several underlying trends influencing the promo industry today.

Solidifying Sustainability And Social Responsibility’s Place In Promo

Ed Hamner, owner of Howling Print and Promo and an original member of the PPAI DEI Task Force, stopped by the PPAI booth on the trade floor and shared the observation that he had seen more exhibiting suppliers displaying diversity certifications. Some trends aren’t as obvious as others. Sometimes, it’s more about noticing the steady trickle of progress that you have to be looking out for.

Developments in CSR aren’t the result of any one factor, but a continued effort by many people in the industry. It takes advocacy and education, and time and commitment by suppliers to go through that process. It’s also the No.1 topic brought up by distributors in conversation with PPAI Media throughout The PPAI Expo 2024.

Combined with the sustainability movement happening, it’s apparent that this is what clients and end users are looking for. While less than a quarter of the products that PPAI 100 suppliers sold in 2022 were marketed as sustainable, that’s likely increased for 2024 as the industry’s largest firms are riding the green wave with increased offerings of eco-friendly items.

That Old School Show Feel

The PPAI Expo 2024 was packed. The crowds led to an accumulative feeling: The promo industry is back to its pre-Covid momentum. One exhibiting supplier told PPAI Media that, “The buzz is back,” and that’s just about all he had time to say before a distributor wanted to talk business.

In-person communication brings a whole new perspective after what the industry and the world went though in 2020. The industry has mastered a virtual world, and in many ways, it has boosted efficiency and made new things possible. On the other side of that coin, the trade show floor is one of very few opportunities to connect with the person behind the email address.

Promo has always prided itself as being a people industry, and it was impossible not to notice that trend back on display at The PPAI Expo 2024.

Thinking (About) The Box

As the adage goes, “never judge a book by its cover,” but we just can’t help. Suppliers know this, too, and they’re capitalizing by investing in creative, mesmerizing packaging that’s sure to captivate end users.

New industry supplier Rupt made an impression at its introduction at The PPAI Expo with clever packaging that can be transformed and reused for different purposes.

From what PPAI Media saw on the trade show floor, colorful, intricate and beautifully designed boxes were all the rage this year.

Looking Ahead

This promises to be an exciting year for promo and PPAI Media is looking forward to it. And we’re excited to see what The PPAI Expo 2025 brings. We’ll be here, at The Mandalay Bay Convention Center, January 13-16, 2025.