NAMA Show Breaks Exhibitor Records, Packs In Most Comprehensive Education Program In Its History

Posted On: 4/12/2018

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CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association reported that its newly branded NAMA Show (formerly OneShow) brought together more than 4,400 industry members from 41 countries. The 80,000 sq.ft. show floor featured 313 exhibiting companies, the highest count to date; 84 were first-time participants.


The event took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center Mar. 21-23.

The 2018 NAMA Show also presented the most comprehensive educational lineup in the show's history, doubling the number of breakout sessions offered in 2017.

The general session featured two keynote speakers, futurist Brian Solis and political analyst Matthew Dowd, who addressed leadership, innovation and the speed of change in two unique, but interrelated segments immediately followed by a "power huddle" conversation led by NAMA chief executive Carla Balakgie.
The general session also unveiled a new video, "This is Convenience Services," designed by NAMA to answer the question: "How does the convenience services industry make consumers' lives better?" and amplify the message that the industry focuses on meeting consumers where they are.

Annual industry awards, hosted by NAMA chair Heidi Chico, were a special highlight with a ceremony honoring: Industry Person of the Year, Joe Hessling; Allied Member of the Year, Mike Lawlor; and Operator of the Year, Jeff Smith. Click here to see VT article.

Education kicked off with three pre-conference sessions on micromarkets, leading sales strategies, and operating a successful convenience services business. Pre-conference programs also included a workshop developed by the National Association of Blind Merchants regarding the Randolph Sheppard Act.

Five customized tracks of education -- Business Development, Technology, Business Operations, Consumer/Marketplace Trends and Politics and Policy attracted more than 1,800 participants.    

Included in the line-up was a customized program for alumni of NAMA's Executive Development Program, and a 75-minute sales session for small operators held on the show floor.

New features this year were:

•    Convenience Central – This space on the show floor served as the primary location for attendees to network, conduct one-on-one meetings, engage with staff and participate in customized product demonstrations.  

•    New Product Zone -- Featuring more than 100 new products, attendees scanned items of greatest interest and, in real time, received a summary listing and show floor locations for those new products.

•    NAMA Cares -- Designed to deliver concierge-level services, NAMA launched a dedicated customer service hotline to address all attendee and exhibitor questions.  This service was further enhanced onsite with the NAMA Cares service counter.

•    Captivation Station -- Situated in a geodesic dome on the trade show floor, this intimate and engaging space hosted 10 exhibitor presentations with an estimated 250 attendees. Customer engagement, connectivity, networking and a session focused on increasing sales, targeted specifically for small operators were featured topics.

Networking opportunities and special events included:

•    International Gathering - International attendees enjoyed an invitation-only event in the New Product Zone, to see the many product innovations happening in the U.S. market and network with industry leaders from around the world.  

•    WIN and ELN -- NAMA's WIN and ELN groups each held their own growing and ever-popular networking events – WIN at Mandalay Bay's Minus 5 and ELN at the Linq's High Roller. WIN also hosted a meet-and-greet with special guest, president and chief executive of the Women's Foodservice Forum, Hattie Hill.  

•    Executive Forum – More than 70 alumni from the Executive Forum Alumni 2016 and 2017 events reunited for networking and brunch, where Joe Hessling of 365 Retail Markets, and planning chair of EF 3.0, facilitated an inspiring and interesting discussion with Mitch Lowe, chief executive of MoviePass.