Laura Kelly of P&J's Vending in Hopkington, Mass. joins Dan Mathews of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, left, and John Healy of Healy & Schulte at the first Gratitude Tour in Boston, Mass.
Close to 5,000 people showed up at the Prudential Center in Boston, Mass. to view the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Gratitude Tour, the first in a series of such tours planned nationwide, where they learned about new vending machines and sampled product.
“It far exceeded everyone’s expectation,” said John Healy, principal of Healy & Schulte, the Chicago-based marketing firm that organized NAMA’s industry growth strategy, of which the Gratitude Tour is one part. “People didn’t understand vending was evolving as it was evolving.”
The even lasted from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Healy said more than half of the attendees were Generation Y consumers, who are 18 to 29 years old.
Representatives of the Boston media attended the event, Healy said, including The Boston Globe. He said the Boston Globe initially intended to cover the event as a news story, but after seeing the machines, opted to develop a more extensive feature on the vending industry.
“We accomplished exactly what we set out to accomplish,” said Dan Mathews, NAMA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
NAMA board members in attendance included Jim Brinton, president of Evergreen Vending in Seattle, Wash., Dave Larimer, president of Filterfresh Coffee Service Inc., based on Westwood, Mass., Tom Reynolds, vice president, Foodservice at PepsiCo Inc., and Paul Schindelar, vice president of sales at Kraft Foods’ vending/OCS division.
The next Gratitude Tour will be Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 at South Street Seaport in New York, N.Y.
For information, visit www.vending.org.