7 Takeaways for Restaurants from the NRA Show

 In Tips for Business Owners

Whether you’re just in the beginning stages of opening your first restaurant, a long-time restaurant entrepreneur, or franchise owner, the NRA Show is the place to be to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the foodservice industry. This event, hosted by the National Restaurant Association, is one of the largest-attended restaurant shows in the country. Within this four-day annual event, the NRA Show attracts 45,000+ attendees with networking opportunities with over 2,000 companies. The event is open to all professionals who are involved in the restaurant, foodservice or hospitality industry.

For the past two years, CityGro has had the privilege of exhibiting at the NRA Show. From this experience, we’ve identified 7 Takeaways for Restaurants planning to attend this or any other industry event.

1. Be Prepared to Network

As with all trade shows, the entire purpose for attending is to network and increase your opportunities. There’s nothing worse than seeing an attendee walk through an event with their head to the floor not willing to talk with anyone. Put your investment to good use and open your mouth! Come prepared to network and look for new opportunities that will expand your business.

2. Attend with Purpose

With an event of this size, there is no possible way that you’ll be able to talk with all 2,000+ companies. Whether you’re in the market for new software technologies, food distribution, marketing or general foodservice education, make sure you attend with a specific purpose in mind. This will help guide you throughout the event and make the best use of your time.

3. Save Money

Nearly always exhibitors will offer special show pricing to attendees during this event. If there is anything in particular you’re looking to buy, now is the time to make the purchase. Attend this event willing to invest in specific needs of your business to help save on costs. If, for some reason, an exhibitor isn’t actively advertising their show pricing, it never hurts to ask what specials they have going on during the event. Lastly, be sure to ask how long their special pricing is valid. Oftentimes, exhibitors will provide some sort of grace period, as they understand multiple decision makers can be involved in the process.

4. Get Hands-On Experiences with New Technologies

One of the biggest advantages to the NRA Show is that it gives you the opportunity to experience new technologies hands on. In today’s day and age, a large portion of business transactions take place over the computer or via telephone. Attending this event allows you to interact face-to-face. Here, you’re able to ask questions and utilize these new tools for yourself before making the investment.

5. Learn About New Trends

In addition to networking, the NRA Show also provides education sessions hosted by industry leaders. The topics of these sessions are practically anything related to the foodservice industry. A few examples of last years education sessions include: Keeping Your Great Food Safe, Customer Intimacy is Within Your Reach, Sustainably Sourcing Your Food and Minimizing Waste, Breakthrough Secrets for Building a Winning Brand, Top Trends to Optimize Your Workforce, Attracting and Retaining Talent, Restaurant Accounting Best Practices, Life Hacks for Busy Professionals, Controlling Restaurant Costs, and many more. You can check out some of the sessions here.  

6. Taste Food!

The NRA Show is the time for food vendors to showcase their favorite recipes. As you walk throughout the exhibitor hall your senses will be overwhelmed by all the amazing food smells! To top it all off, food vendors are handing out samples constantly. Think Costco samples on steroids. Literally, as many samples as you could ever stomach. So take advantage of the amazing food that’s being showcased.

7. See the Sights

The NRA hosts their event in the great city of Chicago! This provides a great excuse to enjoy the city while you’re there. This year, the CityGro team enjoyed our time during the off hours by attending a Chicago Cubs game, taking a boat tour, having some laughs at the local comedy club, and, of course, attending the local bars and restaurants.

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