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The NRA Show and McCormick Place Have High Hopes for 2021


The foodservice industry has taken a major hit since the pandemic. The National Restaurant Association Show 2021 is hoping to help its attendees find inspiration and solutions to rebuild their passion in the field. For established and emerging brands alike, the National Restaurant Association Show is a key player in reaching and connecting with the restaurant and foodservice industry. Having a presence at this trade show allows exhibitors to meet new and existing customers, putting products in the hands of buyers.

After having to cancel its 2020 show due to the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and to keep the community safe, “The Show To Go” was created.This virtual event platform was created to display its 2020 exhibitors, allowing them the chance to still be able to connect with buyers. The NRA Show has played a critical part in assisting with business deals in the foodservice industry, and this alternative was created in hopes to maintain that momentum.

Online visitors could make business inquiries through the virtual portal as exhibitors offered exclusive deals, announced new products, promoted their brand, among other networking opportunities. “The Show To Go” was available from August 3 to September 7 in 2020.

As of now, the NRA Show is prepared to come back in-person May 22-25 of 2021.Set to take place at McCormick Place in Chicago, the trade show’s leaders are confident in their efforts to help move the industry forward. MPEA (Metropolitan Pier and Exposition) has also been working hard to safely reopen McCormick Place to ensure important events like NRA can move forward this year. Found here, MPEA has put together a new “Healthy Meetings Chicago” online portal that digitally walks potential attendees through what to expect when visiting Chicago for an event. Once the portal is launched, visitors can select to “Begin Journey” and find hotspots of content they can navigate through, starting with the airport. The hotspots include videos, audio clips and images that are aimed to make anyone thinking of a visit to the city of Chicago more at ease with all the safety measures and precautions that have been put in place by “seeing” them firsthand.

The NRA Show’s website highlights leaders in the industry and their thoughts on moving forward in 2021.Joe Essa, President and CEO of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group said, “We need to look past the challenges we’re facing to think about the positives that will, and are, coming out of this time. Positives like new operational efficiencies, innovative ways of serving guests, and decreased food waste.”

Michael Stutts of Bloomin’ Brands stated, “We have to understand that we are a critical service and that customers have new expectations that will not go away. We must remove red tape and kill our own biases toward ‘how it’s always been done.”

Another industry leader, Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer of Cracker Barrel said, “This is a time to reevaluate everything and push our businesses and industry forward. This is the time to lean into innovation and to make changes that were hard to make in more normal times.”

75% of 2020 exhibitors re-signed for 2021.An NRA press release states that the trade show has re-signed 75% of exhibitors for 2021. That’s 1,170 companies making an in-person return, totaling 517,850 square feet of exhibit space. As the NRA Show proclaims itself to “provide the premier opportunity to connect with customers, showcase innovation, and open new doors for partnership,” it’s clear that the restaurant industry agrees.

As the National Restaurant Association Show 2019 drew over 60,000 attendees at its 100th-year celebration event, the 2021 show will likely have an audience who is more than prepared to return. While attendees will be excited to discover new products and ideas, exhibitors will have the chance to continue their growth by speaking to buyers.

The NRA Show has continually served the foodservice industry’s needs for over a decade – having helped create door opening connections that ignite success. 2021 has given the National Restaurant Association Show a renewed dedication to reimagining foodservice through new products, technology, and thought leadership.

Skyline Exhibits would love to be a part of your success in the foodservice industry. Reach out today for any of your needs should you be exhibiting at the National Restaurant Association Show.


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Briquelle Neyens
About the Author

In her experience at Skyline's corporate office in St. Paul, Minnesota, Briquelle Neyens immersed herself in trade show research and the ins and outs of exhibit sales firsthand. She also engaged with Skyline's wide-array of products and services from an insider's perspective. Her blogs portray her expertise on what it takes to be a successful trade show marketer. She enjoys generating information that will help all trade show marketers in their decisions to become successful on the trade show floor.

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