NRA Trade Show Tips for the Digital Age

25 Apr

The annual National Restaurant Association Show is the most important restaurant industry event of the year, and we are geared up and ready for the action. Every attendee or exhibitor is a potential contact or client and every connection could yield the vital conversation or referral that could make the difference to your business’s bottom line.

Conference success has and always will revolve around your personality and offering, but the conference experience itself has changed more in the past five years than the previous 20, thanks to the advent of digital and mobile technology.

While many have predicted the death of the humble business card, it is still the primary method of introduction, and the ritual of exchanging them at conferences goes on, but sometimes with a digital twist. There are many smartphone apps such as Cardmunch or Bump that allow details to be exchanged and automatically uploaded to your contact database along with email, images and weblinks and these real time updates add deeper levels of insight on your newly made contacts.

Techsavvy conference goers create specific cards especially for the event they will be traveling to. They will create a video or other fun or interesting content in advance and link them to a QR code. By placing the QR code on the business card, it now becomes a multimedia gateway that people can view using the same phone they are uploading your card details too!

You may want to start incorporating either your company’s or your personal social media addresses on your business card from now on too. If you make a good impression and people want to connect with you then they will invariably look for your Linkedin profile or Twitter handle before your website, so you should make it as easy as possible to connect to you. We do!

Another thing to consider is that Twitter has transformed the conference arena. Before, unless you were a keynote speaker, it was practically impossible to speak to a large number of attendees simultaneously, whereas now one perfectly timed tweet will get you all that attention in a moment, along with many new followers. Virtually every conference has a #hashtag attached to it so you can follow all conversations related to it.

Many presenters will upload their presentations, slides and videos to Twitter after they speak so you can actually concentrate on their words and ideas rather than note-taking. That said, the retweeted quote is the new applause and a speaker knows they are doing a good job if their knockout line is greeted with a thousands fingertaps rather than applause.  Watch out for the many plasma screens around the venue exhibitors and the NRA will use to show the live Twitter stream for the conference – a great way to get noticed and introduce yourself.

With this in mind, its good practice to pre-schedule some social media posts using the conference hashtag to appear during the conference. This will save you the job of finding material to share when you could be networking and enjoying the event!

Many of the top conferences including the NRA Show have also fully embraced the mobile future by producing specific apps just for their events.  The NRA Show’s can be found here – that contain schedules, maps, social media links and much more information that you can have instantly rather than carrying a bulky conference program pack – although it might be worth getting one as a souvenir because they will be disappearing quicker than the free food samples on offer!

We hope that we’ve outlined some new digital ways to connect with others at a trade show. If you have specific questions or want to reach out to us for more information, please feel free to do so. Email us at We hope to see you there!


One Response to “NRA Trade Show Tips for the Digital Age”


  1. NRA Show Tips from CHD Expert | CHD Expert - May 2, 2013

    […] In our previous post, we discussed how technology has changed the conference experience for the attendee, exhibitor, entrepreneur or food enthusiast. This week, we canvassed some opinions from some of our top CHD Expert foodservice consultants, who are NRA Show veterans, and they provided some great advice about how to make the most of your four days at the center of the food industry’s universe. […]

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