What’s new at NRA Show 2017

5 new and noteworthy must-sees
Anne Burrell

Just as the restaurant industry constantly reinvents itself, so does the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. As the 2017 Show unfolds over the next four days, keep an eye out for these new ways to explore trending topics.

Staying “Ahead of the Crave”

NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney will facilitate a discussion with Amazon’s Dan Park and Gen Z and millennial expert Jason Dorsey during this year’s Signature ’17 session, on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The panel will challenge attendees to stretch their thinking about anticipating customer needs and providing service that goes beyond expectations. Attendees will also take a deep dive into Gen Z and millennial customers and learn not only how to reach, connect and engage with them, but also how to win their business. Plan to arrive early: Sweeney’s inaugural Signature session drew standing-room-only crowds at last year’s NRA Show.

New ways to learn

Education has long been an integral element of the Show. This year, the slate of 40 sessions has been distilled to deliver helpful takeaways, stimulating ideas and powerful messages to improve operations and spark new thinking. These sessions have also moved from the upper recesses of McCormick Place to more convenient stages located on the Show floor level, so attendees can easily experience the Show floor between sessions, and each session will range in length from 30-45 minutes.

Innovation deep dive

This year’s Show pulls together forward-looking elements under one umbrella: the Innovation Hub. There, attendees will find the Innovation Theater, hosting presentations of in-depth research, updates on shifting demographics and other timely insights; TECH Talks, unlocking the latest best practices and trends; and Startup Alley, a collection of tech-savvy startup exhibitors poised to make a big splash in foodservice.

Steps from the Innovation Hub, the Tech Pavilion and Microsoft Digital Transformation showcase top-to-bottom solutions to improve operations.

Apply the Cubs' winning strategy in your business

It was the sports story of a generation last fall when the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years. In Monday’s 11:00 a.m. supersession, “Defying the Curse,” Chicago Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts and renowned sportscaster Mike Greenberg will hold an in-depth conversation about leadership and how transforming a culture can overcome even the most stubborn drought. Areas of focus will include recruiting top talent in a competitive marketplace, retaining star team members and creating a workplace culture that transforms attitudes and performance across all employees. Don’t miss this chance to be a part of an inspiring and entertaining conversation.

Special-interest summits

Operators in the non-commercial, retail and fast casual/pizza segments have a chance to take a deep dive into their respective markets and connect with fellow operators at three summits. Saturday’s all-day Innovation of Fast Casual & Pizza Summit will explore issues ranging from recruitment to third-party delivery and game-changing ideas, wrapping up with a “lessons from leaders” panel discussion.

On Sunday, the Foodservice @ Retail Summit opens with a State of the Industry roundup covering the facts, figures and trends in convenience stores and supermarket restaurant operations. A highlight of the program, which concludes on Monday, is a guided tour, tastings and cocktails at Latinicity Food Hall and Lounge, chef Richard Sandoval’s concept that seamlessly fuses retail and foodservice.

The Non-Commercial Summit kicks off Monday with breakfast followed by a half-day program exploring health and wellness trends, social media strategies, micromarkets and other topics curated for education and healthcare foodservice operators.

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