When the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) announced plans to move to one annual show, they took on a big job. Planning for a larger and longer trade show that would give exhibitors one opportunity to present products and give operators a years worth of knowledge, all in a comfortable setting, was no mean feat.
Last week, they delivered in spades.
Most of us are still trying to dig out from under the piles of sample products, literature and notes.
Here at VendingMarketWatch, were in the process of covering the show through our podcasts from the show floor, videos taken on the show floor, and written reports of education sessions. Stay tuned daily.
The pleasant spring weather in Chicago helped things go smoothly.
The new wing, McCormick Place West, was a welcome change for those of us who remember the older McCormick buildings. It was easy to get to the meeting rooms from the trade show floor, and the floor was spacious and well organized.
An elevated stage in the middle of the show floor hosted entertainment and awards. It refreshed attendees and gave a sense of unity.
The show conveyed a sense of excitement thats been missing for several years. Perhaps the move to one show was needed to bring about an outstanding education and entertainment program. This is not to say past shows were not good, but when the association decided to switch to one show, the staff and the board of directors both realized the show had to make a lasting impression. As a result, more resources and energy were invested, resulting in accolades from all who attended.
On the first day, the government affairs symposium addressed a host of topics that will affect vending operators for years to come: calorie disclosure rules, new taxes, proposed currency changes, and more.
Operators need to realize the hard work NAMA does fighting for their interests in the regulatory arena. Ive stated many times and Ill say it again; any operator who doesnt support NAMA is a cheap skate. No organization is perfect, but this is not a valid reason for not paying your dues.
The educational sessions covered a variety of topics. The best attended were cashless vending and the new vending technology standards. The fact that operators turned out for these seminars in such large numbers (It was nearly impossible to find a seat if you came late) demonstrates the growing understanding of the need for change. Cashless, remote monitoring and video screens are all making strides, giving a new of excitement at a time when we need it the most.
The keynotes by Herman Cain, Ted Koppel and Terry Bradshaw were all invigorating.
Congratulations to the NAMA staff and the NAMA board of directors on an outstanding job.