The NAMA Show Heads Back to Chicago April 6-8

March 15, 2022


The National Automatic Merchandising Association's flagship trade show and educational conference is back to its customary springtime format. The NAMA Show takes place April 6-8 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, where micro market, vending and coffee/tea/water/pantry professionals will embark on new product discoveries and take advantage of learning opportunities. It is expected to draw hundreds of exhibitors offering products and services tailored exclusively to the convenience service channel.

Themed “Convenience Service Reimagined,” the 2022 NAMA Show meets the moment of rising opportunity for the convenience service industry, according to NAMA director of meetings and events Kristen Keenan Griffith. “Attendees will discover powerful technology, explore new products, uncover emerging trends and build a strong network of industry allies — assets that will help set any convenience service business on a path to success,” she said.

The NAMA Show’s educational program is designed to teach operators how to become better retailers and where to expand business and improve workplace efficiencies. NAMA said this year’s show will raise the bar with curated knowledge and enhanced solutions to help participants leverage opportunities and navigate current trends that are changing the future of the industry.

George Blankenship, who redefined customer engagement and created breakthrough customer experiences and brand loyalty on behalf of Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc., will deliver the keynote address as part of the General Session on Wednesday, April 6, at 1 p.m. CT.

Award-winning author and innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche, who has consulted for Google, Sony, Disney, IBM, Adidas and NASA, among others, will deliver a plenary session Thursday, April 7, at 9 a.m. CST.

Imagination Way

Making its debut at this year’s show is an experience-based exhibit that pairs new technologies with locations. Dubbed Imagination Way, the interactive gallery will put the edgiest emerging technologies and service solutions on display and in the hands of show-goers.

“Imagination Way reflects consumer demand for greater control of retail encounters, more options and flexibility in retail locations, and ubiquitous availability of better-for-you and fresh on-the-go food and beverage options," said NAMA president and CEO Carla Balakgie. "The result is an inspired look at how consumer interactions with retail are shifting and how the most routine purchases will be made in the near future.”

The experiential exhibit will showcase products, equipment, best practices, technology and merchandising tactics in real-world retail scenarios. Imagination Way will be located at the entrance to the NAMA Show's exhibit hall.

NAMA's New Product Zone

Here, attendees will find more than 100 upcoming or newly released products across all categories including beverages, snacks, vending and brewing equipment, Better For You products and more.

How to Work the 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.

Be ready Preparation is everything. “You must figure out what your No. 1 objective is. Ask, ‘What is our greatest need right now?’ And it changes every year, so every operator should assess their own need,” Tullio advised.

Decide who to bring This can be any valued member of the team who’s going to benefit from the content of the show is a viable candidate. “That could be a customer service person, account executive, sales representative or someone from operations — the show has something for everyone,” Tullio added.

Have realistic expectations There are four things you should strive to achieve, according to Tullio. “First, you want to accomplish specific objectives in terms of finding equipment and products that will provide solutions for clients,” he advised.

Second, NAMA has put a lot of emphasis on the new product side, so you have an opportunity to visit first-time exhibitors and see the latest products that can energize your sales in existing locations and excite customers. “With all the new technology that’s coming out, this will be a great year to see new products,” Tullio said.

Third, it’s also a great time to set up meetings with suppliers. “In many cases, the national suppliers are there with the people you deal with locally, so it’s an opportunity to get the ear of someone who can do some good things for you,” he said. “Sometimes, we underestimate how much a supplier can help us grow our business. This is an opportunity to create alliances with suppliers and make sure they understand that you really need their attention and help you grow your business. It’s a win-win for everybody when that happens.”

Fourth, Tullio recommends taking advantage of the educational program, which NAMA has expanded this year. For example, Tullio’s pre conference session, Selling Convenience Services: Strategies of Elite Performers, and Steve Orlando’s session, Taking Your Micro Market to the Consumer, will offer a wealth of information for operators. Both take place Tuesday, April 5, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

And, on Wednesday, April 6, there are more valuable education sessions, featuring Malcolm McAlpine of Mondelēz International. This session will detail the ease of implementation in addition to the ability to measure success/ROI with post-promotion analytics. You will also learn the importance of bundling and multi-manufacturer promotions, as well as cross-channel promotional opportunities.

The Show Floor

To see a full list of exhibitors, you can check out The NAMA Show’s virtual floor plan. More than 300 exhibitors in the Expo Hall offer solutions and services such as cashless payment options, software integrations, self-service applications, security systems, product introductions and more.

Be sure to stop by the Mondelēz booth No. 1015 to discover the latest delicious and nutritious solutions for convenience services. At the show, Mondelēz will introduce innovative new flavors of consumer favorites, including Oreo Cakester and Sour Patch Kids Strawberry, Sour Patch Kids Grape, and Sour Patch Kids Peach. Also, Swedish Fish & Friends introduces two new flavors —Amazon River Dolphin (strawberry) and Green Sea Turtle (watermelon).

For more information, registration, hotel information, schedules and more, go to

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