The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) welcomed an enthusiastic, full-capacity crowd for the NAMA Show 2022 in Chicago's McCormick Place on April 6-8.
From the debut of Imagination Way, to the expo hall, education and networking events, the event delivered inspiration, insights and solutions – all uniquely packaged to benefit the convenience services industry and their customers. The show brought together industry veterans and newcomers alike, with the final tally vaulting attendance figures to near pre-pandemic numbers.
"This is the time to reimagine convenience service – and a time for operators to capitalize on consumer and retail trends that will shape their future," said Carla Balakgie, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of NAMA, in the association’s announcement.
"Our industry came out in force at The NAMA Show 2022,” said Gregory McCall, chief revenue officer, Five Star Food Service, who serves as co-chair of the NAMA Tradeshow Advisory Council. “It was really powerful to see sessions full and expo hall aisles crowded. This is the single-most important event to this industry, to its growth and its ongoing evolution."
In Imagination Way, which stretched over 9,000 sq. ft., attendees enjoyed hands-on displays emulating new concepts and solutions in end-consumer and public environments. From a self-service café to unattended retail and package distribution in a transit center, the future of convenience services was on full parade.
Exhibits showed how technology can help operators expand services to traditional clients or capture new and different opportunities in non-traditional spaces and places. In addition to the convenience services industry, NAMA hosted representatives of adjacent industries in Imagination Way, including hotels and lodging, commercial real estate, multi-unit housing and others.
In the expo hall, vendor solutions spanned high-tech unattended retail; self-service; kiosk; foodservice and coffee solutions; better-for-you food and beverage options; and environmentally conscious equipment choices.
Thought leadership at the conference showcased two innovation icons. George Blankenship, who redefined customer engagement, experiences and brand loyalty on behalf of Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc., gave the opening keynote. And award-winning author and innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche, founder and CEO of Trend Hunter, delivered a plenary session on times of crisis leading to urgency, action and ultimately to innovation.
The NAMA Show 2022 offered 20 education sessions across five tracks including the concepts and adjacencies presented in Imagination Way. NAMA's annual Industry Awards also were presented during the event.
NAMA represents the $31 billion U.S. convenience services industry. By providing advocacy, education and research, NAMA works to promote and protect the industry's nearly 160,000 hardworking employees.