EMERGING

Top Restaurant Industry Events to Attend in 2024

Every year, leading experts in restaurant and hospitality come together to explore the latest advancements and trends, whether technology, menu items, consumer preferences, or financial forecasts and strategies. Have you planned to attend one of these inspiring events but never quite made it? Join the human race, where intentions are often overwhelmed by everyday demands. 

Sometimes, the best way to take action is to make plans early, before life throws its many curveballs. You also just might make it in time for early bird pricing. As Roy Bennett said, “Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Be brave and take risks. Your life is happening right now.” 

Of course, if you’re in the restaurant and hospitality industry, the risk is second nature to you. Attending industry conferences or events, however, can offer an advantage. They give you a heads-up—what to expect and new market opportunities. They give you the chance to meet people who may stimulate new ideas and ways of doing things. For many, they are the precursor to lifelong business relationships and friendships.  

Let’s explore some of the top industry events that can get you fired up and rekindle the flame in 2024.

Restaurant Finance & Development Conference

November 13 – 15, 2023 Las Vegas

You may have to shuffle a few plans to make the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference at the Bellagio. This financial event is all about the business side of the restaurant industry and capital markets. Attendees explore topics like accounting, technology, operations, and financial opportunities. 

Both sides of the fence attend this conference, from owners, operators, and CFOs to lenders, investment bankers, real estate developers, and attorneys.

Bar & Restaurant Expo 2024

March 18 – 20 Las Vegas Convention Center

The Bar & Restaurant Expo’s three-day conference and two-day immersive Expo Hall bring over 13,000 bar and restaurant professionals together to explore the latest innovations in our rapidly changing industry. Attendees explore operational efficiencies, leveraging technology, supply chain management, and leading trends that will define consumer demand in 2024. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Unlock Your Profit Potential.”

A few of the many workshops and masterclasses include demystifying data, diversifying operations, and scaling for growth and profitability. Evening networking opportunities and happy hours allow you to sample the latest beverage trends while mixing with restaurant and bar owners, operators, and industry experts. Platinum parties bring everyone together at top Las Vegas nightclubs.

Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit

March 24 – 26 Kansas City, MO

The Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit is designed for those on the corporate side of franchising. Attendees can listen to talks by some of the leaders in this category, including Beto Guajardo, CEO of Blaze Pizza; Tom Gordon, CEO of Slim Chickens; and John Berberich, Vice President of EMEA & North America Shake Shack. 

National Restaurant Association Show

May 18 – 21 McCormick Place, Chicago

One of the biggest shows in our industry, the National Restaurant Association Show, delivers some top industry experts. In 2024, they’re increasing the emphasis on learning and collaboration, offering over 40 operator-led sessions and roundtable discussions.

Some of the covered topics include: 

  • Food, beverage, and flavor trends
  • Boosting sales through menu optimization
  • Menu pricing
  • Financing options for growth
  • Off-premise opportunities
  • Understanding the new arena in tipping and service fees
  • Digital marketing and social media trends
  • Prioritizing technology and AI opportunities
  • Workforce management

Looking for networking and socializing opportunities? Consider the Young Professionals Party or the Industry Night Out at the Time Out Market in the Fulton Market District.

Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

August 25 – 27 Los Angeles Convention Center

For those of you on the West Coast, the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo offers practical educational content, exploring best practices and trends. For example, one of their workshops focuses on enhancing restaurant management and operational efficiency and is designed for owners and their management team.

Additional courses explore menu development, marketing, staffing, bar and beverages, and technological advances. 

FSTEC

September 15 – 18 Grapevine, TX

The FSTEC conference attracts restaurant operators and owners interested in the latest technology. While this year’s conference isn’t set in stone yet, last year’s comprised 70 speakers, including Jim Bitticks, President and COO of Dave’s Hot Chicken, and Phil Crawford, Chief Technology Officer of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.

And that is the tip of the iceberg in up-and-coming events for the restaurant industry. Consider picking one or two, making a commitment, and rekindling the passion that drew you into the industry. 

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