When was the last time you attended a restaurant trade show? If you have to pause to think of the answer – or know immediately that the answer is, “Never” – then it might be time to find a show or expo near you. Trade shows are the best places for those within the industry to get out of their kitchens and network; find new products, foods and trends; and gain invaluable education in the areas they need it most. Here are some of the top reasons you should attend a trade show this year:
1. Network with Decision Makers
When you think of networking, perhaps the typical “mixer” scenario comes to mind with people you don’t know awkwardly milling about a bar or restaurant, trying to strike up conversations with random people in the hopes that you might be able to benefit one another in some way. Networking at a trade show couldn’t be any more different. As an attendee, you can specifically find the exhibitors with the wares you seek; attend educational sessions that pertain to topics you are interested in (and therefore attracting other audience members who may be of service to you); and be assured that your peers in your industry are around you throughout the day. If you choose to exhibit, you will come face-to-face with definitive decision makers from other restaurants or companies interested in your product who may become a boon to you and your business for years to come.
2. Find New Products and Food
You subscribe to industry periodicals and get Google Alerts in your inbox every day, but have you seen that new sous vide machine in person? You’ve read about the next cronut but have you tasted it and thought about how you might be able to improve upon it yourself? A trade show is the perfect venue to scope out all that is new in the restaurant world from products to dishes to ingredients – all in one place. You may come across the perfect new piece of equipment for your kitchen or be inspired to add a new dish to your menu. No matter what you want to go to a trade show to find, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by discovering even more than you thought along the aisles.
3. See New Trends in Action
Are savory desserts out? Are eggs back on the “bad” list? What are chefs doing with bone marrow that hasn’t been done before? Be on the front line of this year’s and next year’s trends so you can bank on what your customers will be looking for in the near future. Watch chef demonstrations and get ideas for what you might want to bring into your own establishment. You may even realize that you are on the verge of creating an entirely different trend yourself that has yet to appear on the market – good information that you can capitalize on in the year to come.
4. Receive Best in Class Education
If culinary school is a distant memory – or perhaps you learned hands-on in a kitchen and worked your way up the line – one of the best perks of most trade shows is the educational content provided to attendees and exhibitors alike. Whether you’re interested in operational excellence, building a winning team, how to increase customer loyalty, or an entire session dedicated to those hot new trends we previously mentioned, trade shows like the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo in Los Angeles, CA, at the end of this month and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show in Orlando, FL, this September will have you covered on all fronts. What’s more, you can stick around to speak with the presenters themselves if your questions aren’t answered in their sessions to gain even more valuable insight into the topics that interest you most.
5. Rub Elbows with Culinary Masters
Who goes to industry trade shows either to demonstrate their skills or receive recognition in their field? The best of the best in the culinary world, of course. Hear what they have to say, watch them put their impressive knife work or unique cooking techniques to use in person, and remind yourself why you are in this business to begin with. Maybe you’ll even be able to grab a photo opportunity with Emeril Lagasse or Richard Blais and hang it in your restaurant for your customers to admire.
No matter where you are in your culinary career, a restaurant trade show will no doubt provide you with opportunities, education and inspiration as you move ahead in the business. Interested in learning more? Check out one of these upcoming shows depending on your geographical location:
Los Angeles, CA: Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, August 27-29, 2017
Orlando, FL: Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, September 10-12, 2017
New York, NY: International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York, March 4-6, 2018
Guest post written by Alison Walkley, Digital Marketing Manager at Urban Expo