Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s hospitality in the news topic: 4 takeaways from the National Restaurant Association show. 

In case you missed it, several members of the LGC team attended this year’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The show was held from Saturday, May 21 – Tuesday, May 24 at McCormick Place, a beautiful convention center alongside Lake Michigan. Besides it being the first show since 2019, there were tons of things we were excited to see at the show –– which you can find here.  

Now that it’s come to an end, we want to talk about the 4 most important takeaways from our time at the National Restaurant Association Show.  

4 Takeaways from the National Restaurant Association Show 

FOMO will help drive customer engagement and revenue growth 

The fear of missing out – aka FOMO – is a common slang word among the younger generations, but it comes backed by psychology. According to various studies, “Fear of missing out was found to be associated with a lower sense of having one’s needs met as well as a lower feeling of life satisfaction in general,” in addition to causing significantly higher stress. 

Restaurants can use FOMO to their advantage in order to help drive customer engagement and revenue growth. Some ways to do that include: 

  • Limited edition menu items 
  • Themed pop-ups 
  • One-off events, speakers, performances, etc.  

By finding ways to plan short term or temporary attractions, you’ll invoke that fear of missing out which will drive customers through your front door. Be creative when thinking of how to build an experience that guests won’t want to miss out on.  

Guest experience is more important than ever 

Guest experience was a big topic of conversation at the National Restaurant Association show. We often talk about the importance of the guest experience and why it needs to be top of mind. By prioritizing your guest’s experience, you can increase customer satisfaction and brand reputation, and foster return business.  

Since the pandemic began, advancements to food delivery services have made it so easy to enjoy a great meal from the comfort of your home. A better experience at home leads to people wanting to have a better experience when venturing out into the world. Consider the “why” when thinking about guest experience. Why did they go out to eat, why did they choose your restaurant? Once you can identify those answers, you can build a great experience.  

Locally grown/crafted goods will be in high demand 

During the pandemic, more people turned to small businesses and local restaurants to fulfill their needs and help support recovery efforts. These businesses can provide a personal touch that you don’t always feel when dining at a chain establishment.  

This doesn’t mean that chain restaurants are out; it means that local restaurants can capitalize on providing a great experience and if possible, find partnerships with chain restaurants to try and showcase some of their goods. 

Sustainability is the future of dining 

One of the biggest trends at the National Restaurant Association Show was sustainability. And we’re not just talking about food. Environmentally friendly products (like straws and to-go boxes), composting options, and sustainable food partners were just a few of the practices on display. 

We’ll be seeing more sustainable options at restaurants as it becomes more accessible. Plant-based food items will grow in popularity and likely become a mainstay on menus whether they’re a vegetarian/vegan establishment or not. This goes for those ordering these items as well; it won’t just be vegans or vegetarians enjoying plant-based foods, it’ll be anyone who needs a break from meat or is looking to try something different.  

The National Restaurant Association Show is the largest and most anticipated industry event of the year. LGC is proud and honored to have been an exhibitor amongst some of the most influential people in the business. We can’t wait to return next year and are looking forward to seeing how these four key takeaways play out through the rest of 2022.