September 01, 2020

In light of damage the pandemic has inflicted upon the food-service industry, the National Restaurant Association Show is working to help the industry recover through online resources and a 2021 in-person event that has already re-sold exhibit space to 75 percent of its 2020 exhibitors. Set for May 22-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the annual trade show and conference provides food-service operators and suppliers access to new and innovative technologies, emerging food and beverage trends, unique ingredients, and partnership and networking opportunities.

“For the past 101 years, the National Restaurant Association Show has been a trusted resource for the foodservice industry, and we are excited to be preparing for an in-person event in 2021,” said Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions, which owns and runs the show. “COVID has deeply impacted the foodservice industry, and we know they are looking forward to an event where they can interact with new products, connect with the community, find buying and selling opportunities, and have access to timely education.”  More than nine months out, next year’s show is already showing signs of attracting robust participation, with more than 75 percent of its 2020 exhibiting companies re-signed through the event’s first-ever online space sales program, Cindric added. 

To be eligible to participate in the program, exhibitors needed to apply full or partial payment from the cancelled 2020 show (originally scheduled to run May 16-19 at McCormick) to their 2021 exhibit space. Those who paid in full were able to maintain their 2020 rate, contributing to 1,170 companies booking nearly 518,000 square feet within 10 days, according to show officials.

“For the 2021 show, we received an impressive number of renewed commitments during our online space selection, further reinforcing [its value] to continue the industry’s advancement,” Cindric added.

Meanwhile, Winsight has been busy filling in the gaps left by the cancelled 2020 event by creating digital opportunities to help F&B operators and suppliers navigate the current climate. These include curated news updates, education and other resources through the COVID-19 Resources Hub and The Show To Go. Available Aug. 3-Sept. 7, the latter platform displays the 2020 show’s exhibitors while allowing foodservice companies and professionals to connect and make business inquiries through its virtual portal. 

“The National Restaurant Association Show has provided our company with some of our most critical business deals andNRA Show foodservice industry relationships over the years,” said Exhibitor Brian Holdrich, vice president of sales and marketing, Americas for Welbilt. “We had a lot planned for 2020’s show, and we could not be more grateful to have The Show To Go as our platform to ensure we keep up our momentum and stay strong throughout this pandemic.”

Looking toward the NRA Show in 2021, show officials will tailor educational content to help the industry stabilize and rebuild via tracks focused on operations solutions, the new consumer, technology and innovation, workforce development and more. 

Attendees can save on registration fees by taking advantage of the event’s early bird discount being offered Sept. 7–Nov. 23. 

Guest blogger:  Lisa Plummer Savas -

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