As The National Restaurant Association Cancels Its 2021 Tradeshow, Other North American Foodservice Conferences Go Virtual

This article was written by Leslie Wu for Forbes.

One of the largest shows in the US restaurant and hospitality industry is, once again, cancelling its annual exhibition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Restaurant Association made the announcement on Feb. 26 about the show, which typically occurs in late May, citing the current restrictions on gatherings in Chicago, the trade show’s traditional site. 

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Illinois has placed an order in effect until early June limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people,” the National Restaurant Association organizers, Winsight Exhibitions, wrote in a release. “While this order could be modified prior to expiration, McCormick Place has indicated their ability to re-open for large events is currently prohibited by the state regulation and they do not anticipate changes prior to June that would allow an event of this size and scope to occur in May. Therefore, show organizers regret to announce the cancellation of the 2021 National Restaurant Association Show due to the unavailability of the facility.” The show was also forced to cancel its dates last year due to the pandemic.

The cancellation represents some of the challenges faced by the restaurateurs that make up the association’s membership: the difficulty in planning around regulations that shift with the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 coronavirus and its new variants, and the need to keep brand recognition high in a distanced world. The National Restaurant Association show organizers are promoting digital assets, such as online webinars, q&a’s and other educational pieces. In order to address show attendees who see attendance value in writing deals rather than networking, the association is also offering a digital marketplace to connect restaurateurs and suppliers…

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