In just three months, the 2010 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show will welcome thousands of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals to its annual show. Held May 22-25, NRA Show 2010 is once again filling the halls at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Greg Kirrish, vice president of convention marketing for the NRA, said excitement already is building about the show, especially with operators coming out of one of the toughest years the industry has seen.
"We're trying to provide a community for industry professionals," he said. "People can come exchange ideas face-to-face in an open forum. The industry really needs that right now."
The show also has ramped up many of its offerings for this year's event, returning and improving upon some of its most popular features.
The convention has about 1,300 exhibitors already committed to the show, offering operators and industry professionals the chance to find the resources they need to strengthen their businesses.
Exhibitors for the 2010 Show include AARCO Products Inc., ASI, HME Wireless, Lincoln Foodservice, Manitowoc, Nextep Systems, PAR PixelPoint, Tyson Foods Inc., Vegawatt and Wireless Ronin Technologies.
The NRA Show 2010 will continue to accept exhibitor registration up through the first day of the
show, May 22.
Kirrish also said this year's show is focusing more than ever on attracting international vendors and attendees.
"With the world being a much smaller place, we're trying to reach out to everyone," he said, noting the show offers communications in nine languages. "It's really trying to provide an international scope and resources to the show."
Kirrish said that this year's show will make the culinary theater more visible and relevant. The focus this year is on one of the hottest menu trends in the industry: healthy menu options. Thanks to a partnership with the Produce Marketing Association, many of the events will focus on meals featuring fresh produce.
Celebrity book signings
The show will return what has become one of its most popular events, the celebrity book signing. This year's featured authors include some of the top experts in the country, including:
Rick Tremonto, nationally renowned chef and cookbook author, and executive chef and partner of Tru restaurant in Chicago as well as the culinary director of Tramonto's Steak & Seafood outside Chicago.
Rick Bayless, an award-winning chef and author of several cookbooks on Mexican cuisine. He owns the famed Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
Tony Abou-Ganim, a leader in the beverage and alcohol industry. He is the author of "The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails" and operates his own beverage consulting firm specializing in bar staff training, product education and cocktail development.
Kirrish said he is especially proud of this year's education sessions, which are now aligned with the NRA's new industry imperatives: Profitability & Entrepreneurship, Food & Healthy Living, Job & Careers, and Sustainability & Social Responsibility.
"We've always done a great job of attracting great names as presenters, but this year, the sessions are especially interesting," he said. "We've got some of the biggest names in the industry — Yelp, Dunkin', Starbucks. There's a lot of really cool stuff that people can hear right from the industry thought leaders."
Education sessions include the following topics:
- Are you Asking Too Much or Too Little? Overcome Pricing Challenges
- Fast Casual Differentiators - Make Your Business Standout in the Crowded Market
- Menu Labeling: Are You Equipped for the New Labeling Laws?
- Minimize Your Risk: Food safety issues that impact your bottom line.
- Secrets of Successful Site Selection
- Turning Healthy Trends into Healthy Profits
International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event
Now in its third year, the National Restaurant Association's International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB) will again be held in conjunction with the NRA Show. The IWSB event features exhibits by established and emerging wine, spirits and beer producers from around the world, expert-led, educational sessions and the restaurant and hospitality industry's only forum focused exclusively on operator beverage alcohol-related needs.
Kirrish said he is excited about the continued, growing successful of the IWSB event and the NRA's part in it. "The thing we bring to the party is culinary, with our range of restaurant and food pairing with the beverages and alcohol."
The IWSB event also is an opportunity for opportunity for operators to prepare for the economic recovery.
"As business conditions are expected to improve this year –- especially in the second half of the year — savvy operators can get ahead of the game and strengthen their bar business by attending the 2010 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event," said Ira Cohn, convention chair for NRA Show 2010 and president of ARAMARK Business and Industry Group. "An efficient bar program can be key to boosting bottom lines and building guest satisfaction and our strong education session lineup will deliver the knowledge necessary to succeed."
The 2010 IWSB education session highlights will include:
- Benefits of Promoting Sustainability
- Capitalizing on "What's Hot"
- Developing Customized Promotions
- Upgrading Quality of Your Beer Service
The IWSB education sessions and exhibits will take place in Grand Ballroom (McCormick Place South, Level 1).
IWSB attendees who are responsible for alcohol decision making also will receive admission to the NRA Show floor included in their fee. Early attendee registration fees for the IWSB and NRA Show is $95 through April 16, $135 after. IWSB registration fee for NRA members is $55.
Attending the NRA Show 2010 is a better bargain this year, especially for those who register early, Kirrish said. The convention's hotel bloc costs 13 percent less on average this year compared to last, and attendees and exhibitors also receive a travel discount. As always, the NRA Show provides free shuttle service and Metro train tickets to attendees and exhibitors.
Early registration fees through April 16 are only $40, and $80 after that date.
The NRA Show registration fee includes access to the NRA Show for all four days, show education sessions, the keynote address, celebrity book signings, culinary scene, kitchen innovations and many opportunities for networking.
The registration fee does not include access to the Restaurant Executive Breakfast or the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event. Registrations for these events are separate and require additional fees.
Kirrish encourages operators and industry professionals to register early and take advantage of all the show offers.
"There's a sense of excitement and inspiration already," he said. "Where else under one roof can you so quickly and effectively find so many products, services, ideas and contacts?"
Christa is editor of QSRweb.com and contributes to FastCasual.com and PizzaMarketplace.com. She has experience in the restaurant industry as well as 15 years as a journalist.