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We’re having a blast here at the 2014 NRA Show at the McCormick Place in Chicago. At the ReviewTrackers Booth (Booth 6571), we’re showing attendees how our software platform can help them monitor and manage online reviews of their restaurant or food service business. And we’re giving them a taste of how ReviewTrackers can be the reputation management solution for anyone looking to leverage the power of reviews to drive customer traffic and sales.

We’re also learning a lot from so many restaurant, food service, and lodging professionals, all of whom have come to help shape the industry for an entire year. Of particular interest is how consumers’ interest in food has evolved over time.

This year, in preparation for the NRA Show, the National Restaurant Association – together with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – identified some of the hottest menu trends to expect. They did this by surveying close to 1,300 ACF member chefs about which food, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2014. Check out the top 10 trends, according to survey results:

(Check out: “Check Out Five #NRAShow Events You Don’t Want to Miss”)

At the #NRAShow: Chefs Talk About Hot Culinary Trends, Plus Impact of Online Reviews

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood

2. Locally grown produce

3. Environmental sustainability

4. Healthful kids’ meals

5. Gluten-free cuisine

6. Hyper-local sourcing (ex. restaurant gardens)

7. Children’s nutrition

8. Non-wheat noodles (ex. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)

9. Sustainable seafood

10. Farm/estate branded items

The surveyed chefs also took the time to share their views on technology trends. Apparently, according to 27 percent of the respondents, the time is high for the use of tablets for menus, wine lists, and ordering. They have identified this as the hottest technology trend for restaurants – followed by smartphone/tablet apps for consumers (25 percent), smartphone/tablet apps for chefs/restaurateurs (19 percent), and mobile/wireless payment options (16 percent). Social media marketing is also on the list at 13 percent.

Chefs are also quick to notice the increasing impact of online reviews on their restaurants and food service businesses. Here are some interesting findings from NRA and ACF’s survey:

  • 52 percent say that negative reviews are damaging to customer traffic and sales – making it more critical than ever to track review data and manage online reputation
  • 48 percent think that positive online reviews attract mainly first-time visitors
  • 37 percent believe that online reviews are more important than newspaper / magazine reviews
  • Only 6 percent actually think that online reviews don’t have much of an impact on their businesses

If you want to learn more about how reviews are affecting the restaurant and food service industry, drop by the ReviewTrackers booth and say hello. If you want, you can even schedule an in-person demo so we can place you in front of the line at Booth 6751.

Keep checking into the ReviewTrackers blog and stay tuned for more on this year’s #NRAShow (you can click the tag for all event-related posts). You can also check out Twitter for tweets with the hashtag #NRAShow.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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