NATSO Connect 2024 to Tackle Opportunities to Drive Revenue & Customer Loyalty

A workshop on growing share of wallet will include panelists from Onvo and Wawa Inc.
Melissa Kress
Executive Editor
Melissa Kress
NATSO New Logo 2024

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Operators in the truck stop and travel center industry are preparing to gather in Orlando, Fla., next month to garner insights into how to increase their share of wallet. 

NATSO Connect 2024, which takes place Feb. 18-22, will devote one day to an education lineup focused on thriving in today's competitive market. 

[Read more: NATSO Adapts to Industry Shift With New Image & Brand Elements]

"To help travel centers take advantage of the growth opportunities identified in a 2023 NATSO Services survey of professional drivers, we curated educational sessions on increasing wallet share," said Amy Toner, executive director of the NATSO Foundation.

"What brings customers inside and how long are they willing to wait? What are the trends in food and loyalty that will increase revenue? The keynotes and workshop on Feb. 20 will provide the answers to these questions, guiding travel centers on building a brand, strengthening customer relationships, increasing sales, and driving revenue growth," Toner added.  

NATSO Connect programming will kick off with the NATSO Connect Opening Keynote on Feb. 19 with Tony Portera, managing director and partner with Boston Consulting Group. Portera will highlight findings from the consulting firm's report on retail fuel sales. He will reveal opportunities for retailers to reimagine and diversify operations and delve into the need to focus on customers. 

On Feb. 20, Polly Flinn, founder of Flinnstone Strategies and an expert in creating customer-focused experiences, addresses new ways to stand out from competitors. Most recently serving as executive vice president and president for the GetGo Cafe+Market banner for Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle Inc., Flinn has brought innovation and success to companies such as bp, Walmart, Castrol, Arco, ampm and Giant Eagle/GetGo. Following her keynote, a panel of industry innovators will join Flinn for a discussion on how travel centers might stir things up in their sector before new entrants do.    

Flinn was also recognized as a senior-level leader in the 2021 Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience awards program.

Additionally on Feb. 20, the Opportunities to Grow Wallet Share Workshop will feature a panel of travel center experts and operators who will lead an interactive group discussion on ways to attract more customers inside, ultimately making more purchases more often. Workshop panelists include Harman Aulakh, marketing manager at Onvo; David Prevost, director operations South Florida at Wawa Inc.; Peter Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Convenience & Energy Advisors; and Carolyn Schnare, CEO of acuity LLC.

New to the event this year, sponsors will be able to pitch products or ideas live, and the audience will vote on the products or services sure to improve the travel center wallet share during Tank Talks.  

"We are excited about our Tank Talks event," said Vice President of Business Development Pamela Hayes. "Similar in concept to a popular network TV show, sponsors can pitch their product or idea to an audience live on stage."  

NATSO Connect 2024 will also feature a Travel Center New Builds and Remodels Pre-Event Workshop to provide operators with insights into their construction projects.

"A recent poll from NATSO members found that 63% are 'likely' to invest in a rebuild or remodel during the next 12 to 18 months," Toner said. "This workshop will offer the guidance truck stops and travel centers need to plan investments and the connections to make it happen." 

The workshop is scheduled to be held Feb. 19 and covers critical aspects, including:   

  1. Checklist and guidance on planning and documentation;  
  2. Feasibility studies — what they should cover, and the key questions a study must answer; and
  3. The due diligence needed before launching any project.  

The annual gathering also offers network opportunities and two NATSO Foundation fundraising events: 

  • NATSO Foundation Magic Miles Fun Walk/Run: a community-building 5K run or walk on the boardwalk outside the Disney Yacht & Beach Club on Feb. 20 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. 
  • Flavors of America — A Culinary Extravaganza: a night of cuisine, entertainment also on Feb. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot. 

Founded in 1960 NATSO represents the truck stop and travel center industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as a source of information on the industry; provides education to its members; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.

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