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The 2013 NACS Show in Atlanta featured a record-setting 396,000 net square feet of expo space. This year, the show returns to Las Vegas Oct. 7?10, and it is already setting new records. The expo space will increase to 400,000 square feet and the event?s organizers are expecting more than 1,000 exhibitors.
?We actually sold out our exhibitor space in the middle of March, which is faster than ever before,? Amy Ashley-Burke, director of meetings and convention services for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, told Convenience Store News. ?We are projecting more than 23,000 attendees this year.?
Every year, NACS Show attendees can find the best and newest products and services available to the convenience store industry, new ideas through workshops and educational sessions, and multiple networking opportunities. Whether it is an operator?s first time at the show or their 10th time, each year offers something for everyone.
?Overall, as with any show, there are new opportunities for everyone there,? said Jeff Lenard, vice president of industry advocacy at NACS. ?For those who come on a regular basis, we always look to create opportunities to make them feel they want to come back. And for those who have never come to the show, we offer a lot of content and unique networking opportunities, including three receptions for networking.?
While many big shows are seeing a decline in attendance, the NACS Show continues to increase in attendance each year, showing that the value of convenience has never been higher, according to Lenard. Suppliers know it?s a channel of choice, and retailers know they will come to the show and get great ideas, he explained.
While retailers and suppliers often network while walking the expo floor and attending the morning educational sessions, NACS is offering three evening networking events this year that are much more than just your typical cocktail party.
The traditional NACS Show Kickoff Party will take place Oct. 7 at TAO Nightclub, located on the popular Las Vegas Strip. In addition, a NACS Game Day Party will be held Oct. 8 and NACStoberfest is set for Oct. 9, once the expo floor closes on those days.
?The Game Day and NACStoberfest will be taking place right outside the convention center in the Silver Parking Lot where the shuttles are located,? Ashley-Burke said. ?It?s open to everyone, and we utilize our suppliers to participate. There will be tailgating types of games for Game Day. Last year, we had football tosses, and we will have a band or DJ playing. It will have a fun, carnival-type feel.?
Similar events with different themes were held at last year?s show, and the organizers are even more excited about the events planned for this year. When attendees come to the show in the morning, they will see the Game Day and NACStoberfest events being built, and then they will see the finished product as they exit the convention center for the day.
?By having the games, it makes it easier to network,? Lenard noted. ?You don?t have to know someone to start interacting with them, and it adds a whole new element.?
THE TECH EDGE
Because NACS didn?t hold THE Tech EVENT this year, as it did in 2013, one of the new additions to this year?s NACS Show is The Technology Edge.
?We?ve always had technology sessions [at the NACS Show], but this year we beefed it up to offer more educational sessions and focused time together for IT professionals,? Ashley-Burke said. ?We even have a reception within a reception on Wednesday night [Oct. 8] and are opening the exhibit floor on Thursday morning for them.?
Anyone participating in The Technology Edge will be allowed access to the vendors on the expo floor 45 minutes before the rest of attendees on Oct. 9, plus they will have access to a catered brunch.
Educational sessions on IT security, data security, standards, loyalty technology, payment technology, fuel systems and more will also be available, as well as group forums allowing attendees to learn directly from experts and their industry peers.