The 2013 NAFEM Show will feature more networking opportunities and more than 500 exhibitors
Orlando, Fla., may boast one of the most popular tourist attractions in America, but when thousands of visitors descend onto the city this February, it won’t be to see Mickey or Minnie. Instead, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers’ (NAFEM) bi-annual tradeshow is expected to draw 20,000 visitors (up from 18,500 in 2011) to the Orange County Convention Center between Feb. 7 and 9.
The tradeshow floor will showcase more than 500 equipment exhibitors — such as Rational U.S.A., Rubbermaid, Hamilton Beach Brands and Kitchen Aid — to end-users shopping for colleges, universities, healthcare or correctional facilities and independent or chain restaurants.
And, this year, attendees will be privy to new show elements. “We always try to go out and capture as much data as we can from our exhibitors and guests, to find out what they liked about the show, and we took that to heart and made some pretty dramatic changes,” says Kevin Fink, tradeshow chair and exhibitor representing Scotsman and Ice-o-Matic.
One such change is the introduction of a “Show Floor Reception” on the first night. Exhibition hours will be extended an hour to 6 p.m. and feature a reception starting at 4 p.m. “[It will] give everybody an opportunity to continue talking about products in a casual environment,” says Deidre Flynn, EVP of NAFEM.
What’s more, NAFEM will revive the “Global Networking Event” the night before the convention starts. “The event was a big opening celebration in the past, and we have returned it to its roots where it’s an opportunity for our [international] guests to meet and mingle with manufacturers and learn more about the show in a comfortable, networking setting before it opens,” Flynn explains.
Attendees and guests will have a last chance to connect at the “All-Industry Celebration” on the final night of the show, Feb. 9. The relaxed affair will be a departure from past closing receptions, which were black-tie events with a maximum attendance of approximately 1,500. “We heard loud and clear from our feedback that people wanted to do something that was a bit more inclusive, a bit more relaxed and a bit more fun,” Fink says.
But, beyond networking, and perusing the showroom floor, the tradeshow will house two workshops. “LEED Basics for Foodservice” is a new course that teaches restaurateurs how to implement green building practices, and the two-day “Serve Safe, Food Safety Training” course will inform attendees about how to protect against food-borne illnesses and outbreaks as well as how to minimize liability and costs. It will end with a certification exam.
Overall the show’s focus appeals to Fink most. “It draws the best interest from different types of customers,” says the exhibitor. “This is the opportunity to talk to everybody specifically about equipment as opposed to other shows that have food and beverage,” he says. “It’s 22 hours of educational time, time to meet and mingle with the people that make the equipment,” adds Flynn.