Five Things to Know Before Heading to the Restaurant Show

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show 2019 is just weeks away. Now in its centennial year, the show is the largest annual foodservice show in the western hemisphere and is the place to meet and mingle with the entire foodservice industry.
What can you expect this year? Big things. Big exhibits. And lots of people.

This year’s event will attract 43,000+ attendees and feature 2,300 exhibitors spread over 715,000 square feet at Chicago’s McCormick Place – the largest convention center in the country!

As one exhibitor says, it’s “like the Oscars for the channel, because this is literally where everyone in the industry comes to see what’s new.”

Of course, you wouldn’t attend the Oscars without planning and preparation, and the NRA Show is no different. Here are five ways to maximize your experience at this year’s event.

Set Your Priorities

Everyone wants something different out of the show. As a restaurant owner, it’s an opportunity to learn new culinary techniques and rethink your cuisine. But it’s also a chance to explore ways to be more efficient in what you do. 

Whatever your priorities, spend some time on the show website. It features a nifty toolthat helps you find exhibitors and vendors relevant to your needs. From there you can view their booth number, website, and core offerings. 

Knowing your priorities will help you stay on task without getting distracted by all the enticing things on display.

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The convention center is huge, and while the show organizers try to group vendors of the same nature in the same space, it’s not a perfect science. Many technology exhibits are scattered across the three massive halls.

With your priorities in mind and a list of your “must visit” exhibits, use these online mapsto circle each booth on your list. With your route planned, you’ll navigate through the craziness a little more confidently.

Beat the Lines, Get your Badge in Advance

Skip the long lines at the registration desk and get your attendee badge in advance. If you register before May 3, 2019, badges will be mailed to the address you provide during the registration process. Register after this date and you can collect your badge during on-site registration hours.

Look After Yourself

Four days, 43,000 square feet, and frequent treks back and forth to your hotel. It all adds up. Which means comfortable shoes are a must. This isn’t the time for vanity. 

Big crowds also mean hot and stuffy places, so make sure you stock up on water before, during, and after the show. Sounds obvious, but while there’s plenty to eat and sample at the show, finding water isn’t that easy. Try collapsible, reusable water bottles. They’re a traveler’s best friend and reduce plastic waste too.

Stick Loosely to Your Plan and Enjoy

The NRA Show is a dazzlement of food, innovation, networking and fun. It’s an event that’s made to be enjoyed, not stressed about. With your plan and map in your back pocket, try and go with the flow. Stroll lazily through the aisles and explore all the curiosities on show. Watch your favorite celebrity chefs demonstrating their techniques or master mixologists sharing tips on how to create magic behind the bar. 

Try some crazy new food, drink amazing things, learn from your peers, and explore this fun and captivating food jungle.