Innovation, technology on tap for 2011 NRA Show in Chicago

From the National Restaurant Association

As the restaurant industry works its way out of the economic downturn, operators’ optimism about future business conditions is brightening. Sales and traffic are improving, as are plans for capital expenditures and staffing levels. Now is the time to gear up to meet the pent-up demand for dining out created by the bad economy.

The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show will provide everything restaurant operators need to power up their businesses in this changing environment. From the most innovative equipment products on the market to the latest technology for employee training, the NRA Show will cater to operators in every industry segment.

New this year: the Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards, whose recipients will be showcased in the F&B Product Innovations Gallery on the exhibit floor.

“We gathered an independent panel of experts to decide what’s truly innovative in the food and beverage marketplace,” said Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president of Convention for the NRA. “These judges, who represent a cross-section of 12 industry segments and concepts, looked at ingredients, preparation, processing and packaging, and picked 13 products that will have a significant impact on the industry and foodservice operations.”

Also new is the flood of social-media presence.

“Several big players are exhibiting with us rather than at other events because they know the restaurant market is red hot,” Heftman said. “In fact, some of the largest social-media companies are making their trade show debut at the NRA Show. We’ll see Google, Facebook, Groupon, Living Social, Travelzoo and Yelp making a big splash with special features exclusive to NRA Show attendees.

“In addition, we’re the first trade show to offer unique group-buying opportunities for the B2B community,” Heftman continued. “Partnering with Bizy, we’ll feature NRA Show Daily Deals, which allows buyers to purchase the deal online at a deep discount and then fulfill the transaction face-to-face at the exhibitor’s booth. These show-only deals really provide an extraordinary opportunity to make smart purchasing decisions.”

Heftman also highlighted the success of the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, which filled its 6,500-square-foot exhibit space to capacity a month before the event.

Held in conjunction with the NRA Show, IWSB is the industry’s only forum exclusively focused on building restaurant and hospitality beverage alcohol programs.

“We’re very excited to present two special International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event opening sessions featuring Kevin Zraly and Jim Koch,” she said. “The gentlemen are pioneers in their respective fields of wine and beer and will provide insights that every restaurant operator can benefit from, so we decided to open the sessions to all NRA Show attendees.”

This year’s NRA Show is set for May 21-24 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. IWSB 2011 is May 22-23. For more information go to www.restaurant.org/show [2].