Between 5,000 and 7,000 people, mostly college students, converged on the outdoor courtyard of the University of Nevada Las Vegas student union to gather free snacks and beverages while seeing the latest vending technology on April 24 for the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Gratitude Tour. The event was one day before the start of the NAMA OneShow at the Venetian/Sands resort, April 25 to 27, 2012.
The Las Vegas Gratitude Tour was not part of the original Gratitude Tour which ran in the summer and fall of 2011. The recent tour was arranged when it was decided that the University of Las Vegas would make a good setting for an additional Gratitude Tour, an event whereby vending manufacturers showcase the most modern vending offerings. NAMA arranged the Gratitude Tours as part of the industry growth strategy introduced in 2011.
One addition at the Las Vegas event was OCS displays. A table in the center of the courtyard was arranged by Aramark Refreshment Services, showcasing Flavia, Keurig, Tassimo, Starbucks and Seattles Best Coffee single-cup coffee systems.
The Las Vegas event was also the first Gratitude Tour attended by Carla Balakgie, NAMA’s new president and CEO. Balakgie praised the event as a great way to introduce young people to vending. When asked if there will be future Gratitude Tours, she said, “We’ll continue showcasing the industry.” She was not sure what form future events will take.
The event was attended by several Las Vegas TV stations.
The event featured the Kraft Foods’ Diji-Taste machine, a sampling platform leveraging traditional vending machines as the product distribution mechanism. The consumer experiences large touchscreen digital displays; camera technology provides age and gender detection.
Kraft Foods also displayed its Diji Touch, machine a combination of traditional vending with a touchscreen interface that delivers product nutrition information and engaging advertising, allowing brands to better connect with consumers at point of sale.
Other displays included the Canteen 2bU machine, a beverage/snack glassfront with LCD screen that carries product that is locally sourced, organic, all natural, vegan, gluten-free or kosher; the PepsiCo Dream machine that recycles containers and offers reward points; the Seattle’s Best Coffee machine that brings a well known specialty coffee to vending; a Red Bull energy drink machine with digital touchscreen and Google Wallet acceptance; a Royal Vendors machine with energy management software, cashless reader, LED lighting and new refrigeration deck; a U-Select-It Alpine Elevator machine that is fully ADA compliant; the MEI payment display kiosk demonstrating bill recycling, mobile wallet acceptance, near field communication cashless card acceptance, and more.