Five Highlights to Look Forward to at NACS Show 2016
ATLANTA — The theme of this year’s NACS Show is “Meet Your Future,” which is fitting for an event that brings together convenience and fuel retailing professionals from every corner of the industry, from national chains to regional players to single-store operators.
Now in its 43rd year, the 2016 NACS Show will make its way to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta Oct. 18-21 — “where all roads lead to profits,” according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. For four days, attendees will come together to learn, network, buy and sell, and find the best and newest products and services, as well as new ideas through workshops and educational sessions.
Last year’s NACS Show broke records when more than 23,000 attendees and 1,000-plus exhibitors were expected, but the number of registered attendees actually came in at 24,392 and there were 1,264 exhibiting companies. This year, the association expects even greater attendance figures considering that the expo floor is extended to 410,000-plus net square feet, where more than 1,200 exhibiting companies will showcase thousands of products geared to convenience store and fuel retailers.
And, of course, the expo floor is not all that’s on this year’s docket. The 2016 NACS Show will offer more than 60 educational sessions for attendees to choose from — 12 more educational sessions than last year. Showgoers can also sit in on four days of general sessions — something that was started in 2015 and is continuing.
Whether this is a retailer’s first time attending the event or their 20th time, organizers boast that there’s an educational session, exhibitor booth or new idea for everyone.
Here are five highlights to look forward to at this year’s event:
1. Small Operator Training Sessions
New to this year’s NACS Show is Small Operator Training Sessions, specially designed for attendees from companies with fewer than five stores. The sessions will only be open to them. Mark Wells, president of LJT Management Services Inc., will lead the four sessions entitled: Financial Ghostbusters; Essential Inventory Management and Loss Prevention; Positive Upselling — No Questions Asked; and Growing Your Customer Base — Gasoline, Store and Car Wash Strategies.
2. Four Days of General Sessions
NACS Show veterans are used to the traditional three days of general sessions. However, NACS last year introduced a fourth day of general sessions and that feature is returning this year, spearheaded by dynamic and high-profile speakers. Closing out the expo on the fourth day will be legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, the National Football League’s only five-time Most Valuable Player and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection.
3. Technology Edge
Now in its third year, Technology Edge is exclusively designed for technology professionals, in conjunction with NACS technology partner Conexxus. For two-and-a-half days, Technology Edge attendees will participate in educational sessions centered on data security, EMV and customer engagement; group discussions on technology topics affecting the industry; and networking opportunities with other technology professionals. They can also take advantage of the Technology Edge Solutions Center, a meeting place to connect with the day’s speakers and fellow participants.
4. New Exhibitor Area
The New Exhibitor Area is back after making its debut at the NACS Show last year. This area aims to make it easier for retailers to discover new products and services from 200 new-to-the-NACS-Show exhibitors. This time, the area will be organized into five categories that mirror the full expo: facility development and store operations; foodservice equipment and foodservice programs; merchandise, candy and snacks; fuel equipment and services; and technology.
5. Cool New Products Preview Room
Located in the main lobby, the Cool New Products Preview Room allows showgoers to scan and print out a list of the latest products and services they’re interested in. This year’s room will hold hundreds of new products segmented into seven categories: green (eco-friendly); health and wellness; new design; new flavors; new to the industry; new services; and new technology.
With so many educational sessions, exhibitors and new products to navigate through, NACS has one solid piece of advice for attendees: plan ahead.
“Make a list of the goals you want to achieve at the NACS Show. Research the exhibiting companies, explore the educational sessions, and determine ahead of time what you would want to see and learn onsite,” the association encourages.