2008 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show Highlights All the Latest Equipment and Technology Trends

Consumers, operators look for enhanced customer service, environmental friendliness

(Chicago) As the economic climate continues to present challenges for the nation’s 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets, operators are seeking out the latest equipment and technology to enhance both customer service and bottom lines. The 2008 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show® will offer opportunities for restaurateurs to explore equipment that can reduce utility costs and increase productivity, technology that can improve dining experiences for guests, and advice from industry leaders and experts on how to best integrate these into their operations­all in four days at Chicago’s McCormick Place, May 17-20.

“With the challenges posed by the slowing economy, it is increasingly important for restaurant operators to find solutions for cost-efficiency, productivity-enhancements, and guest satisfaction to keep their businesses running successfully,” said William C. Anton, FMP, convention chairman for the 2008 Show, and chairman and founder of Anton Airfood, Inc. “The NRA Show features more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing every type of equipment­from dining room to kitchen to back office­that can enhance and improve their operations, and no industry trade show features more new product launches. The focused pavilions and education sessions also help restaurateurs identify the latest technology and equipment innovation.”

Association research shows that current equipment trends focus on sustainability, productivity and customer involvement. Multi-purpose equipment and “green” equipment top the list of trends in the Association’s survey of more than 1,200 chefs, and six in 10 consumers say they are likely to choose a restaurant based on its environmental friendliness. In addition, 53 percent of consumers say they would be likely to use electronic payment systems at their tables in fullservice restaurants if they had that option, and 44 percent say they would use tableside electronic ordering if available. Similarly, 57 percent say they would use self-activated ordering terminals in quickservice restaurants.

Operators looking for the latest kitchen equipment shouldn’t miss the Kitchen Innovations® Pavilion, which hosts the 2008 Kitchen Innovations™ (KI) Award recipients, as selected by an independent panel of experts to be among the most innovative in the world. This year’s KI Awards address the growing needs of foodservice operators, including energy/water conservation, improving productivity and food safety. Attendees can explore groundbreaking products that provide solutions to the many challenges facing restaurateurs and culinary professionals, including utility costs, labor, quality and efficiency.

As consumers are increasingly integrating technology into their daily lives, they also come to expect it when dining out. Association research shows that consumers are interested in entertainment and self-ordering options, including tabletop televisions, wireless Internet access, customer-activated ordering and payment options and other in-restaurant technology. The Show’s Technology Pavilion will feature exhibits and educational sessions on the hottest innovations, such as information and ordering kiosks, digital menu boards, and wireless POS systems. The area will also house demonstrations, e-mail stations and a Cyber Café.

Online and electronic marketing is also a hot trend for operators, which is cost-effective and more environmentally friendly than printed materials. Restaurants are increasingly using technology to improve the efficiency of their advertising and promotional efforts, and consumers are also increasingly receptive to e-mail and cell phone marketing. Attendees will find new and innovative products and services to integrate into their marketing efforts throughout the exhibit floor.

The NRA Show offers more than 65 free education sessions, with many focusing on equipment and technology. Session topics include how to use technology to reduce food waste, how to integrate ENERGY STAR certified equipment into operations, e-marketing and promotions, business intelligence software that can enhance guest experiences and boost bottom lines, and more. For a full schedule of education sessions, visit www.restaurant.org/show/events/eduprogs.cfm.

Now in its 89th year, the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals in the Western Hemisphere. The 2008 Show will be held May 17-20, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. The Show attracts 2,000+ exhibiting companies and 74,000 attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 115 countries. More information can be found on the Show Web site at www.restaurant.org/show. For more information on the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, visit www.winespiritsbeer.org