How Sweet It Is: The NAMA Show Is Back

July 30, 2021

Fittingly, The NAMA Show and Coffee Tea & Water (CTW)–Together in 2021 signals the return of the convenience services industry’s trade shows as we know them: in person. The event’s organizer, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, is hosting both of its flagship events for the first time since 2019—and simultaneously for the first time ever.

The combined events, to be held at New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center August 18–20, will be the largest industry gathering this year. The NAMA Show attracts operators and suppliers working in vending, micro markets, office coffee service (OCS) and pantries, as well as contract foodservice. CTW is the largest event dedicated to the OCS segment.

The Exhibits

On the trade show floor, attendees will see and experience more new offerings than usual from food and beverage companies, equipment manufacturers, and technology providers, given the more than two-year hiatus between events.

New this year: Roaster Row, a show floor space exclusive for coffee roasting companies—complete with dedicated branding. The exhibitor package includes discounted entry to attract small roasters to the OCS and vending segments.

Check out The NAMA Show’s virtual floor plan to see who’s exhibiting. Go here to access registration, venue and hotel information, schedules and general information. And make sure to visit NAMA’s, a regularly updated preview of products making their show debut.

The Education Program

In the education wing, participants will have access to 30 sessions featuring more than 70 speakers who will provide insights into—and solutions for—operating in an economy that’s been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we developed the education program for The NAMA Show and Coffee Tea & Water – Together in 2021, we were charged with pairing the historical excellence of Coffee Tea & Water education with the one-of-a-kind trade show floor of The NAMA Show—a convergence that is happening for the first time,” says Ben White, NAMA’s director of education and training.

The NAMA Show’s education program is organized under five main tracks Community Connection, roundtable discussions on several timely topics; Investigating Innovations, which will explore the relationship between technology and business efficiency; Successful Selling Post Pandemic, an instructional series on changing sales techniques and services; Taking Trends to the Bank, which consists of sessions discussing new payment methods, products and data; and Workforce Development, which will provide information on employee wellbeing, work culture and client relationships.

How to Work The NAMA Show

Bob Tullio, an industry advisor, former operator, and contributing editor to Automatic Merchandiser and, has some tips to help operators get the most out of The NAMA Show.

1. Determine your No. 1 objective for attending:Ask yourself, “What is our greatest need right now?” If you’re bringing several people to the show—and I think it’s a really good idea to do that—each of those people should have an objective and a takeaway that’s going to help them perform after the show.

2. Who should you bring to The NAMA Show? Tullio recommends bringing any valued team member—a customer service person, account executive, sales rep or operations manager, among others. The NAMA Show has something for everybody who wants to learn. And when you bring more people to the show, it gives the impression to suppliers that they’re valued members of your team. Traveling is also a valuable perk for team members, so let them know you’re confident they’ll return to work motivated and knowledgeable.

3. What can operators accomplish? Tullio suggest that operators focus on achieving four goals:

Discover equipment and products that will provide solutions for your clients. For example, you might be looking for an extra-high-quality creamer to use in your bean-to-cup brewers. Since NAMA is emphasizing new products, you’ll have a chance to visit new exhibitors with products that could energize sales in existing locations. Set up meetings with suppliers. In many cases, national suppliers attend the show with the people you deal with locally. An event like this provides an opportunity to talk directly with someone who may be able to do better things for you. Try to strengthen alliances with suppliers. Because NAMA has stepped up its education program as well, you’ll be learning from the industry’s best and brightest. 4. How to navigate the show floor and who to see: Tullio recommends setting up meetings with suppliers in advance, as it sends a message that you’re committed to their products and interested in support via rebates, product samples or leads that come into their websites.

The Importance of This Year’s Show

Following more than a year of isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined The NAMA Show and Coffee Tea & Water event will be a launch pad for the industry’s rebound. For operators, it’s an opportunity to come together to discover new products and share ideas. For suppliers, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with their customers, in person, and to introduce products and solutions to drive operators’ comebacks.

Good Times Ahead

Known for its joyful festivities (Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest among them) and world-class cuisine, New Orleans is a fitting setting to celebrate the return of industry events. The convention center, located just minutes from the Mississippi River and the historic French Quarter, makes it easy for conference-goers to learn, network and enjoy all the magic the Big Easy offers.

To help visitors find their way around the trade show and Big Easy, Mondelēz International Foodservice created The New Orleans NAMA Guide. In this guide you’ll find exhibit and conference information, tips on walking the show floor and the goings-on at Mondelēz booth No. 1045. The guide also includes a specially curated list of 10 Things to Do in New Orleans, suggesting places to sample local cuisine, enjoy dinner, listen to music and more.

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