The NAMA Show 2020 Preview

March 23, 2020

Editor's Note: This was written before NAMA announced the cancellation of The NAMA Show 2020.

After years of rotating between Chicago and Las Vegas, The NAMA Show 2020 will be held May 6 to 8 in Nashville, Tenn. Lindsey Nelson, NAMA’s vice president of programs and services, said that the organization’s leadership wanted to create a new experience for attendees.

“Nashville really represents everything that we’re trying to do as far as shaking things up a bit,” Nelson said.

The NAMA Show will be held at the Music City Center, located in the heart of Nashville’s downtown area, which Nelson noted is a consolidated neighborhood filled with food and entertainment options for attendees to explore outside of the conference.

People, Products and Possibilities  

One thing that hasn’t changed this year is NAMA’s ongoing theme of “People, Products and Possibilities,” which Nelson said is what the world’s largest gathering of convenience service professionals really represents.

“First and foremost, it’s a networking opportunity where everyone in the industry gets together — it’s the one time of year when they can see everyone,” she said. “Products are a huge focus of our strategic plan to grow the show by introducing new products in the marketplace. Possibilities speaks directly to our strategy to showcase not only what's happening today in business, but what could be coming our way — other trends in retail, consumer trends, things that are further out on the horizon that we want the industry to start thinking about.”

The NAMA Show Floor

The show floor will house more than 300 exhibitors offering attendees the opportunity to make connections to grow their businesses. The show floor will also host more experiences than ever, including the New Product Zone featuring more than 120 product premieres in food, beverage, technology and equipment.

“The New Product Zone has grown exponentially every year that we've had it,” Nelson said. “It's a dedicated showcase where people can see the new things that are on the market, and then we redirect the attendees back to the exhibitor's booth so they can get more information for product ordering.”

Nelson said that she expects 2020 to be the biggest year for the Better-for-You Pavilion. This continued growth is partially due to the increasing number of companies aligned with NAMA’s Public Health Commitment in providing healthier snacks and beverages to vending, micro markets, and office coffee and pantry services.

“We're really focusing on getting products to the show that meet our new public health standards and also bringing our public health partners to the event to talk more about what the commitment is,” Nelson explained. “We plan to showcase success stories and lessons learned from operators who are implementing the program already.”

Educational Opportunities  

Staying on top of new products and responding to consumer trends such as better-for-you are just a couple of many facets in running a successful business in convenience services. The NAMA Show provides educational opportunities through their Knowledge Zones, which are designed to help operators better manage and grow their businesses with the latest advances in technology, results-driven sales strategies and implementation of best practices.

Attendees should refer to the NAMA website ( for the full schedule detailing educational offerings in five focus areas: Sales/Business Development, Technology, Business Operations, Consumer/Industry Trends and Cover Your Assets. Highlights include “Surviving the Transition,” an industry update from Verizon and AT&T representatives about the evolving cellular network; “Employee Retention: Executing Company Culture Objectives,” discussing how to hire and keep good employees in a tight labor market; and “The ABCs of a Digital Marketing Program,” a step-by-step guide from LightSpeed Automation’s David Marler. And of course, nobody will want to miss a truly Nashville keynote with Charles Esten, who played Deacon on the popular TV show Nashville.

“He is a true entertainer,” Nelson said of Esten. “From his musical talent, his acting, his personal story, improv — we feel like there many exciting ways he will be able to interact with the audience and bring the flair and flavor of Nashville to what we’ve come to expect as the look and feel of the NAMA General Session.”

While the show floor gives attendees a prime networking opportunity and a chance to learn about new products and services, it’s also a learning space. The NAMA Hub, an epicenter of engagement, will offer experiences connecting operators with exhibitor solutions through Learning Labs and the Captivation Station. NAMA’s Learning Labs will present 30-minute sessions featuring data-driven content, and the Captivation Station — a geodesic dome hosting 20-minute sponsored sessions — will feature commercially-focused presentations.

Attendees who want to build in additional educational sessions should arrive early for the pre-conference sessions on May 5 (there are additional fees for each session; advance registration suggested). Steve and Patty Closser of Translucent will lead “Micro Market Magic: Interactive Guidance for Building Better Markets,” and Automatic Merchandiser contributor and industry expert Bob Tullio will present “Selling Convenience Services: A Business Development Playbook for Sales Managers.” This year, NAMA will also offer a Technician Training Summit with hands-on training for equipment managers and technicians.

Nelson said that NAMA is hoping that Nashville’s easily accessible location — according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, 50 percent of the U.S. population is within 650 miles of the city — will encourage more small operators to attend the conference.

“We’re calling the final day of the show ‘Small Operator Friday.’ We’re delivering special programming right on the show floor that day,” she said. “We’re going to have sessions targeted specifically to small operators, bringing new concepts to the NAMA show and this important group.”


With Music City as the host location for The NAMA Show 2020, live music is also on the agenda. Nelson recommends that anyone attending the conference should plan to attend the NAMA Jam on Wednesday evening.

“The NAMA Jam take place Wednesday evening after the trade show closes,” Nelson explained. “The Grove Valve Orchestra is the CLIF Bar corporate band — they played for us last year and they were so great. It’s a great opportunity for people who want to meet some folks.”

Convenience services professionals interested in attending NAMA may register at

Editor's Note: This was written before the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., but we retain a sense of optimism as our industry responds to this crisis.


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National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)

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