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A Quick Guide to the National Restaurant Association Show

April 22, 2019

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On May 18-21, the restaurant, food service, and hospitality industries will gather at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show.

First-time and returning attendees alike will have plenty to see and do at the show, which will also celebrate the NRA’s 100th birthday. Before you hit the show floor, read this quick guide to get an idea of what to expect from the industry’s largest gathering of the year.

Things to Do at the NRA Food Show

The convention features 2,430 exhibitors across multiple industries. After visiting a few booths attendees can sit in on a plethora of presentations, demos, and informational sessions.

This year’s “Signature” presentation is titled “The Future of Dining,” which is moderated by National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. The presentation also features four prominent executives from the industry:

  • John Cywinski, President of Applebee’s Bar & Grill
  • Randy Edeker, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and President of Hy-Vee, Inc.
  • Chris Gheysens, President and CEO of Wawa
  • Tim McEnery, Founder and CEO of Cooper’s Winery & Restaurants

Those looking to hone their culinary skills should pay special attention to the celebrity demo events. Notable chefs in the world including Rick Bayless, Andrew Zimmern, and Kari Underly will show off their skills and share their ideas about today’s cuisine.

Those with an operational mindset can attend one of the many educational sessions available throughout the show. Restaurateurs can learn more about multiple topics in the following categories:

  • Hiring and Retention
  • Culinary Insights
  • Marketing Matters
  • Tech and Innovation
  • Beverage and Alcohol

The Importance of Technology at the National Restaurant Association Show

The use of technology continues to be a prevailing force in the restaurant industry. A 2017 report from Toast showed an overwhelming 95 percent of restaurateurs agree on technology’s role in improving business efficiency. This can include many tasks such as the creation of a website, online reservations, or responding to customer reviews.

Having a modern solution, especially for responding to online reviews, is a must-have for any restaurant. Research shows that 63 percent of reviewers never get a response to their feedback. However, a business that does respond to its negative reviews increases the likelihood of a visit from 44.6 percent of potential customers.

We would be happy to discuss more about review responses and other best practices and strategies for restaurant success at the ReviewTrackers booth (#6877). Let’s talk about how we can help you attract more customers and optimize your SEO efforts.

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