May 3, 2024 5 min read

The 4 Best Restaurant Trade Shows to Hit This Spring

We are hard-core into trade show season here in the first half of the year! A super fun but super busy part of the calendar. Which ones are you planning to attend? Which ones will I be at?
The 4 Best Restaurant Trade Shows to Hit This Spring
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We are hard-core into trade show season here in the first half of the year! A super fun but super busy part of the calendar.

Which ones are you planning to attend? Which ones will I be at?

First off, why should you go to trade shows?


The best reason to go to a restaurant industry trade show is to learn. The shows are often anchored with education sessions, seminars, and panels featuring successful trailblazers and leaders in our business. I personally get the majority of my marketing ideas by attending the shows, listening, and asking questions.


There are a lot of great people in the business and most of them are happy to help and support you. It really is an incredible community. When you attend these trade shows, you can make great connections with vendors, partners, and new friends. Networking is a key advantage to attending shows.


The third reason to attend three shows, get out from behind the desk or the prep table! You can’t solve the problem with the same energy that created it. We need a fresh perspective. Trader shows well are there for your business. They provide a mental refresher on why we do this: to enjoy and spread great hospitality.

Here are four shows I’ll be attending that you might want to consider if you’re looking to level up your business


Where: Las Vegas, NV

When: May 8-10

Why: Increasingly, more every day, restaurant transactions happen online – whether it’s ordering delivery via third-party apps, pick up from your website or key from the office… This trade show addresses, The World restaurants online and off premise. If you’re looking to learn and maximize and those areas, this show is for you.


Where: Chicago, IL

When: May 15-17

Why: This is the longest running in person restaurant trade show that is focused only on marketing. For the most part it’s designed for multi unit brands, but for sure if you are proactive about branding and marketing your restaurant as an independent operator, there’s a lot of value to gain. Not only is the hyper focus of the show appealing to me, it’s got some of the best networking of any show I’ve ever been to.


Where: Chicago, IL

When: May 18-21

Why: This is the Mac daddy! It is the biggest, most celebrated show in our business. Everybody who is anybody trying to do anything at any level is at "The Show." It takes up three interconnected trade show floors. Its massive. Whatever it is, you’re looking for – equipment, uniforms, education, technology, innovative, food, products… If it restaurant, it’s at The Show.

My panel:

Blending Technology With Your People and Processes

- with Bryan Meredith

Saturday, May 18

• 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

Location: Room S405 - South Building - 4th Floor

Description: Embracing technology is critically important to survive in this competitive market. However, in order to ensure it’s the right fit for your business you must also consider all the people it will impact and your current processes. How do you know what tech is best? How do you integrate new tech with your existing processes? Gain best practices in determining which technology meets the needs of both your people and your processes.

Learning Objectives:

*Understand the impact new technology can have on current business processes – both positive and negative.

*Explore how to identify technology that can improve your bottom line.

*Create a successful work environment for your people, giving them the resources they need to deliver a better guest experience.


Where: Chicago, IL

When: June 10-12

Why: I absolutely love this show. It’s a bit more intimate in its design, which allows for more intense and longer conversations. It’s hyper focused on the QSR and fast summit has the name of the year to believe. The people and the brands that choke the show are the most proactive in the business. They engaged in questions, conversations, and sharing of ideas. Those are my kind of people. Education at the show is on a top level.

My panel:

Summit Advisors Panel

- with Solomon ChoiJulie Wade, CFE & Samuel Stanovich 

Tuesday, June 11

• 9:05 AM - 9:35 AM

Description: The Future of Digital Transformation in the Fast Casual & QSR Industry

*People: Build sustainability with your team first, and they will help you get the most of your investments in technology

*Guest Experience: Treat your operators as the customer to maximize the guest experience

*Data: Drive your digital transformation journey with a data strategy tied to your business goals

*Technology: Get your business process right before shopping for the tech to improve it

My panel:

The Marketer's Handbook: Navigating QSR Guest Acquisition and Retention for Sustained Growth

- with Sara Kear Deena McKinley & Alonso Castañeda

Wednesday, June 12

• 2:50 PM - 3:20 PM

Description: New guest acquisition for restaurant brands is complicated and expensive. It can also be difficult to track attribution. That’s why retention is so important, driving additional trips increases lifetime value and the expense of acquisition. As digital marketing becomes more and more proliferated the entire process is only getting more arduous. How do you know which channels work? How do you increase performance on each? How can you measure your effectiveness?

Join this panel discussion of marketing leaders who will share actual tactics, framework and how to’s on what is working along with the results they’ve achieved so you can model the success for your own brand.

Let’s go!! It’s 2024 and it’s our year!!!

Which trade shows do you like to attend? Will I see you in any of these?


-Rev Ciancio


*I help restaurants to build guest marketing programs.

*I help hospitality tech companies with lead generation and content marketing.

Need help? Email me:

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