It’s the question that’s been on everyone’s mind–is Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) really happening? In short, yes, TPE21 is set to takeover Las Vegas from May 12-14, 2021. Each year, the annual trade show and convention brings together the tobacco and alternative industries in an event that’s billed as a “fun place to do serious business,” with 2021 being no different.
A lot of planning goes into each year’s TPE with the bar and expectations being set a bit higher year after year. Tobacco Media Group (TMG), owner and operator of TPE and publisher of Tobacco Business magazine, has been busy planning and ensuring that not even a global pandemic would be able to derail what’s become a highly anticipated event for many tobacco, vapor, CBD and other alternative businesses. With just weeks to go until this year’s big show, the team at TMG wanted to ensure many of the questions being asked were addressed so that each and every person coming to the show knew that every detail, every consideration, and each and every concern had been taken into consideration. Tobacco Business reached out to a number of retailers and manufacturers to compile some of the biggest questions regarding TPE21. Here’s how Ellie Hansen, TMG’s trade show director, responded to those questions:
Tobacco Business: The industry has been without many of its in-person events for over a year now and many have adapted and learned to get business done regardless. What are the benefits of attending or exhibiting at TPE21 this year?
Ellie Hansen: This is a tactile industry and in order to really experience the products you need to touch, taste and smell them not just see them on a screen. What we do, what we promote, and who we are is as much a lifestyle as it is a business. You can sell and promote products online, but there is nothing like the face-to-face experience. We can enjoy a fine cigar in person, but you won’t have that same experience during a Zoom. We don’t want to just have an event–we want to provide an experience.
Many industry events leading up to May have been cancelled or postponed due to the slower than expected vaccination rollout, COVID variants and extended restrictions. What factors have led to TMG deciding the May show can go on as planned?
We’ve enjoyed great partnerships on the ground in Nevada that has allowed us to continue the wonderful relationships we’ve established over the years with exhibitors, buyers and all of TPE’s attendees. We worked effectively with every layer of government—state, county and local—to create the best safety plan possible, which was approved and is ready to roll out. You will be safe at TPE21 and you will have fun!
We are working with Rick Simon and his company, United Service Companies (USC), to utilize all of the latest protocols to produce the safest event possible. In recent months, Rick has already held several successful conventions in Georgia and Florida, giving us confidence that he will help us put on a great, safe show this May. Rick goes into detail at tpesafe.com in a video explaining what he’s seen elsewhere in the U.S. Rick and his team at USC are premier event safety and security organizers and have utilized state-of-the-art safety protocols in producing these events. Our re-worked floor layout also ensures that there will be a constant flow of traffic, which will lead to increased physical distancing throughout the day. We also have more hand sanitizing stations than are required to make it easier to keep hands clean after handling any products or shaking of hands.
We are constantly communicating with exhibitors and attendees about what they can expect at TPE21, the safety of the event and all other relevant updates. We are encouraging everyone to visit Tpesafe.com for all the latest details and information. TPEsafe.com is updated daily to make sure everyone is up to speed and to maintain complete transparency. We are ready. Las Vegas is ready. TPE21 will be a major success and the first event out of the gate. We are proud pioneers, and we can’t wait to see everyone.
In what ways is TMG working with state and local health officials in creating guidelines for the show? How is TMG ensuring that the decisions and approvals being granted to allow the show to go on are being driven by science and with the guidance of medical professionals rather than local politics and money?
In every way possible. From the layout of the show, to the number of hand sanitizing stations, to the ventilation system, the state and local officials have provided clear guidelines based on science and CDC recommendations to allow us to have an in-person show this year. We’ve had to meet and exceed a rigorous set of rules, which indicates that this whole process has been dictated by science. We’ve happily complied because all levels of government have been transparent and clear, just as we like to conduct ourselves in business.
How is TMG working with the Las Vegas Convention Center to put on this year’s show?
They’ve been phenomenal partners all the way through this process. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, led by Steve Hill who serves as its president and CEO, and his team have been outstanding. During the past few months, we’ve talked to Steve and his team every day, certainly more than I’ve talked to some members of my own family. We both want to achieve the same goal: that everything—and I mean everything—is in place, proper and ready to go come May 12. We’re also in constant communication with local leaders and state officials to produce a world-class event. All of this hard work will pay off come May 12-14.
There has been a major push throughout the U.S. for people to get vaccinated, especially before business and world can return to any sense of normalcy. Since TPE can be considered a large gathering, what role does vaccinations have in the show’s planning and on-site preparations?
If you can get vaccinated, do it. However, the local science tells us that this event can happen successfully because the number of COVID cases is way down and the number of vaccinations is way up. We believe we have an excellent plan to ensure everyone will be safe while at this year’s show and this is evidenced by our safety plan getting approved by all levels of government and all relevant health officials. Gov. Sisolak eased the rules because he is relying on his health experts. The governor was one of the first in the nation to shut down his state because he listened to his experts. Now, he’s moving ahead because he’s listening to the science and the experts.