Just as restaurant operators try to balance technological efficiency and guest experience, the National Restaurant Association is working to provide compelling content and unique experience for its Restaurant Innovation Summit.
The conference, set for Nov. 7 and 8 in Dallas, will take place in a riverfront industrial event space, The Empire Room, in the city’s Design District. The indoor-outdoor venue inspires outside-the-box thinking, opportunities for sponsor demos, networking, and noshing from tech-enhanced food trucks.
New this year is an agenda with a more narrative flow. As in the past, leading operators, tech innovators and experts from beyond the industry will provide practical solutions and thought-provoking insight. But the focus and format have been enhanced.
“We’ve been more purposeful in the way we designed the program,” says Laura Knapp Chadwick, program director, membership development and industry relations, National Restaurant Association. The first day is themed “Innovations of Today,” with a look at the state of the industry, best practices, technology leaders and what they are doing. The second day, “Innovations of Tomorrow,” will examine staffing, supply chain, how we eat, and more.
The content will have an experiential twist. In one session, delivery leaders will provide rapid-fire presentations in what will make TED Talks feel long. In another, 18-year-olds will discuss their technology priorities at restaurants. Spoiler alert: They don’t care as much about privacy as their older kin do.
Throughout each session, a conference illustrator will capture concepts and key thoughts and display the results on a 40-foot wall that visitors can peruse and discuss.
The conference experience extends beyond the venue. About 50 registrants will tour the new Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium to experience leading-edge technology and foodservice, sample food and drink in the home team’s locker room, and practice the perfect spiral on the field.
“We’re trying to find ways to get way from sitting in a conference room, to keep it exciting and interesting,” Chadwick says. “We’re leaning hard into the experience part of the conference.”
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