No doubt about it: The NRA Show can be mind-boggling and confusing, especially for first-timers.
A look at the numbers for last year’s show gives an idea of the sheer size and scope of this annual must-see event:
- More than 63,000 attendees from all 50 states and 110 countries, representing more than 40 segments of the industry
- Over 638,000 square feet of exhibition space, spread across three different buildings
- 22,000+ individual exhibitors
In addition, there’s the 2016 agenda of more than 100 education sessions, ranging from hands-on cooking demonstrations to expert panel discussions. “It can certainly be an overwhelming experience,” says Phil Kafarakis, Chief Innovation & Member Advancement Officer for the National Restaurant Association.
This year, however, the NRA is introducing an innovative new informational hub that takes over where the old membership booth of prior shows left off. The new service feature is part of a larger strategy, more than two years in the making, to position the Association not only as the industry’s premier advocacy organization, but also as a provider of solutions to restaurant and foodservice operators, distributors, educators and other industry stakeholders.
“This year’s show marks the activation of a whole new direction for us,” says Kafarakis of the new strategic plan, led by the vision of NRA president and CEO Dawn Sweeney with the help of the Association’s board. “It’s all about building the industry’s influence, engagement and image.”
Tagged “NRA to Z: Front-of-the-House, Back-of-the-House and In-House Know-how,” this integrated approach spotlights the wealth of programs and services provided by the National Restaurant Association, including an “A to Z” of industry solutions such as the Conserve sustainability initiative and the Kids LiveWell nutrition focus.
Located in the same keystone spot at the entrance to the North Hall, the new NRA Show hub will be three times the size, fanning out onto the show floor. The hub will not only include membership information but also showcase the Show experience with interactive self-service kiosks and multi-media displays to point attendees to exactly where they want to go and what they’ll want to see in order to accomplish their show goals.
In addition, the hub will reinforce the three crucial pillars of the foodservice business: food (Health, Wellness and Sustainability); labor (Workforce Development); and profitability (the Business of Restaurants). Each focal point will offer not only an advocacy component but also specific solutions for challenges operators face within each pillar.
As a bit of fanfare to introduce the NRA’s new booth and its new strategic plan, the Association will also unveil the Elliot Collection. This one-of-a-kind display of industry artifacts and other historical memorabilia was donated by Alice Elliot, one of the foremost providers of executive search, human resources and leadership in the hospitality industry.
In addition to leveraging new touchscreen technology and multimedia informational platforms, the booth will be manned by a team of 20-25 NRA staff specialists who will help direct attendees to the appropriate self-service kiosks, sign up new members, and scan tags to provide follow-up with additional information after the show—no more lugging brochures and sell sheets around the floor all day.
This post is sponsored by The National Restaurant Association®