Features





Rocky Mountain confections: NAC heads to Denver for Concession & Hospitality Expo

July 8, 2014

-By Anna Storm


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1403808-NAC_Preview_Feature_Md.jpg
The National Association of Concessionaires’ annual gathering used to be called the NAC Convention & Trade Show. But the title was restrictive, says NAC executive VP Dan Borschke. “The reason why we changed [the event name], frankly, is to be more encompassing. Obviously we’re more than just theatres. We’re more than just sporting events. We are encompassing a lot of different and unique venues.” In rechristening its industry conference, the NAC chose to emphasize a commonality among its diverse members: hospitality.

Thus, participants at this year’s convention will find themselves attending the NAC Concession & Hospitality Expo. Scheduled for July 15-18 in the popular tourist destination of Denver, Colorado, the 2014 concessionaires’ meet-up boasts offerings that address a wide variety of hospitality concerns.

Borschke is quick to highlight the expanded trade show. The Expo welcomes 26 new vendors this year, five of which are alcohol-based. “Which obviously reflects the fact that alcohol is becoming a major issue in theatres as well as other entertainment venues,” he says. It’s an issue the Expo’s “program on how to roll out alcohol in your venue” likewise seeks to address. How to obtain liquor licenses, how to register with your city or state, and how best to market your alcohol are several of the issues slated for discussion.

An increase in alcoholic offerings is the first of three industry trends conference speakers plan to discuss. The second and third, Borschke explains, are heightened patron demand for quality products, and a desire for greater variety. “I think the spectrum for food is becoming wider and wider. We do recognize the fact that in movie theatres and a lot of other venues, Coke and Pepsi products are still the number-one products that people purchase, along with popcorn and hot dogs and all the rest. But we’re also noticing that people have expectations,” says Borschke. “I think the days of a McDonald’s having, for instance, just three hamburgers, or any other fast-food restaurant [having] a very narrow menu board, are long gone. Because there’s such a demand for a variety of food and one-stop shopping food. I think in many ways we’re seeing, like the rest of the retail establishments, the need to address quality and variety when it comes to food and beverages in our venues.”

As well as the need to discuss their effects. Dietician Judy Barbe will offer a presentation on nutrition as part of Thursday’s “Evolving Food and Beverage Expectations of the Ever-Demanding Consumer” panel. It’s a subject Borsche says has “always been a sticky wicket. I remember having an interview with a blog author a few months ago, and she lambasted the theatre industry because they don’t, in her words, they don’t offer fresh food variety and low-calorie variety. My comment to her was: We are not a philanthropic organization. Our members are in it to make a profit. They will sell whatever sells. If the theatre customer wants a salad, or fresh vegetables, or a bottle of water, or gluten-free items, we will indeed sell it.”

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, will speak to the habits of just such a movie-theatre customer during his State of the Industry address the morning of Wednesday, July 16. Jeff Mann of the International Association of Venue Managers, Dan Matthews of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, and Borschke himself will also offer remarks. “I’ll be getting up and talking about our new survey that we just took with our members,” says Borschke, offering a brief preview of his comments. “We’ll be detailing everything from average per-caps, to labor costs, to philanthropic generosity from our members.” He plans to distribute the survey, whose data is being used to further the NAC’s involvement in government relations (“We’re working with our fellow sister organizations to address certain issues that are out there, both regulatory and legislative”), following his speech.

But, intended as it is for the purveyors of an entertainment-industry staple, the concessionaires’ Expo is by no means all work and no play.

“We want to show people how you can have fun, and also show them some ideas in entertainment,” Borschke says of the event’s social highlights, which include a Coca-Cola-sponsored evening at the famed Howl at the Moon piano bar, and another at Denver’s Pepsi Center (sponsored by the soda brand, naturally). Participants in Wednesday morning’s “Fun Run” will have the opportunity to give back to their host organization, as proceeds from the run/walk will benefit the NAC Education Fund. The Concession Certification Managers program (which will take place in the days leading up to the conference, from July 12-15), as well as an all-inclusive scholarship for a first-time conference attendee, are both financed via the Fund.

Those participants expecting a special bash in honor of the NAC’s landmark anniversary, however, will have to wait a bit longer. “We are acknowledging our 70th anniversary, and obviously it’s a big accomplishment for an association to be around this long,” Borschke says, noting that six or seven of the organization’s former presidents will attend Wednesday’s opening session, marking one of the few instances in which so many NAC leaders have gathered in one space. “However, we didn’t want to overplay it, because frankly, we are just five years away from our diamond anniversary. We’re saving up for our diamond in five years.”

Organizers will instead direct their efforts toward increasing the Expo’s impact. Borschke states, “We’re always looking for something bigger, better and more ‘wow.’ For instance, last year we debuted at the end of the show our community project program. We realized that at the end of every trade show, there are loads of products that haven’t been distributed to the people who are walking the aisles.” The NAC reached out to the USO in New Orleans, the city that hosted the 2013 convention, and arranged to send 500 one-gallon Ziploc bags of candy and other trade-show products to its local offices. “We’re doing the same thing this year in Denver, because we believe it’s something very, very special.” (Leftover perishable items are sent to a local food bank.)

“The most challenging thing is to always be at your best game,” says Borschke of the need to annually provide a “fresh, different and acceptable” mix of educative and entertaining options. Thanks to the 2014 event’s emphasis on alcohol trends, products from Belgian beer to Bloody Marys to sangria will be made available for review and testing. Musing upon this highlight, Borschke appears to capture the spirit of the Expo. “We want to show what’s new and different in the industry, and how much better to enjoy it while you’re doing it?"


Rocky Mountain confections: NAC heads to Denver for Concession & Hospitality Expo

July 8, 2014

-By Anna Storm


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1403808-NAC_Preview_Feature_Md.jpg

The National Association of Concessionaires’ annual gathering used to be called the NAC Convention & Trade Show. But the title was restrictive, says NAC executive VP Dan Borschke. “The reason why we changed [the event name], frankly, is to be more encompassing. Obviously we’re more than just theatres. We’re more than just sporting events. We are encompassing a lot of different and unique venues.” In rechristening its industry conference, the NAC chose to emphasize a commonality among its diverse members: hospitality.

Thus, participants at this year’s convention will find themselves attending the NAC Concession & Hospitality Expo. Scheduled for July 15-18 in the popular tourist destination of Denver, Colorado, the 2014 concessionaires’ meet-up boasts offerings that address a wide variety of hospitality concerns.

Borschke is quick to highlight the expanded trade show. The Expo welcomes 26 new vendors this year, five of which are alcohol-based. “Which obviously reflects the fact that alcohol is becoming a major issue in theatres as well as other entertainment venues,” he says. It’s an issue the Expo’s “program on how to roll out alcohol in your venue” likewise seeks to address. How to obtain liquor licenses, how to register with your city or state, and how best to market your alcohol are several of the issues slated for discussion.

An increase in alcoholic offerings is the first of three industry trends conference speakers plan to discuss. The second and third, Borschke explains, are heightened patron demand for quality products, and a desire for greater variety. “I think the spectrum for food is becoming wider and wider. We do recognize the fact that in movie theatres and a lot of other venues, Coke and Pepsi products are still the number-one products that people purchase, along with popcorn and hot dogs and all the rest. But we’re also noticing that people have expectations,” says Borschke. “I think the days of a McDonald’s having, for instance, just three hamburgers, or any other fast-food restaurant [having] a very narrow menu board, are long gone. Because there’s such a demand for a variety of food and one-stop shopping food. I think in many ways we’re seeing, like the rest of the retail establishments, the need to address quality and variety when it comes to food and beverages in our venues.”

As well as the need to discuss their effects. Dietician Judy Barbe will offer a presentation on nutrition as part of Thursday’s “Evolving Food and Beverage Expectations of the Ever-Demanding Consumer” panel. It’s a subject Borsche says has “always been a sticky wicket. I remember having an interview with a blog author a few months ago, and she lambasted the theatre industry because they don’t, in her words, they don’t offer fresh food variety and low-calorie variety. My comment to her was: We are not a philanthropic organization. Our members are in it to make a profit. They will sell whatever sells. If the theatre customer wants a salad, or fresh vegetables, or a bottle of water, or gluten-free items, we will indeed sell it.”

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, will speak to the habits of just such a movie-theatre customer during his State of the Industry address the morning of Wednesday, July 16. Jeff Mann of the International Association of Venue Managers, Dan Matthews of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, and Borschke himself will also offer remarks. “I’ll be getting up and talking about our new survey that we just took with our members,” says Borschke, offering a brief preview of his comments. “We’ll be detailing everything from average per-caps, to labor costs, to philanthropic generosity from our members.” He plans to distribute the survey, whose data is being used to further the NAC’s involvement in government relations (“We’re working with our fellow sister organizations to address certain issues that are out there, both regulatory and legislative”), following his speech.

But, intended as it is for the purveyors of an entertainment-industry staple, the concessionaires’ Expo is by no means all work and no play.

“We want to show people how you can have fun, and also show them some ideas in entertainment,” Borschke says of the event’s social highlights, which include a Coca-Cola-sponsored evening at the famed Howl at the Moon piano bar, and another at Denver’s Pepsi Center (sponsored by the soda brand, naturally). Participants in Wednesday morning’s “Fun Run” will have the opportunity to give back to their host organization, as proceeds from the run/walk will benefit the NAC Education Fund. The Concession Certification Managers program (which will take place in the days leading up to the conference, from July 12-15), as well as an all-inclusive scholarship for a first-time conference attendee, are both financed via the Fund.

Those participants expecting a special bash in honor of the NAC’s landmark anniversary, however, will have to wait a bit longer. “We are acknowledging our 70th anniversary, and obviously it’s a big accomplishment for an association to be around this long,” Borschke says, noting that six or seven of the organization’s former presidents will attend Wednesday’s opening session, marking one of the few instances in which so many NAC leaders have gathered in one space. “However, we didn’t want to overplay it, because frankly, we are just five years away from our diamond anniversary. We’re saving up for our diamond in five years.”

Organizers will instead direct their efforts toward increasing the Expo’s impact. Borschke states, “We’re always looking for something bigger, better and more ‘wow.’ For instance, last year we debuted at the end of the show our community project program. We realized that at the end of every trade show, there are loads of products that haven’t been distributed to the people who are walking the aisles.” The NAC reached out to the USO in New Orleans, the city that hosted the 2013 convention, and arranged to send 500 one-gallon Ziploc bags of candy and other trade-show products to its local offices. “We’re doing the same thing this year in Denver, because we believe it’s something very, very special.” (Leftover perishable items are sent to a local food bank.)

“The most challenging thing is to always be at your best game,” says Borschke of the need to annually provide a “fresh, different and acceptable” mix of educative and entertaining options. Thanks to the 2014 event’s emphasis on alcohol trends, products from Belgian beer to Bloody Marys to sangria will be made available for review and testing. Musing upon this highlight, Borschke appears to capture the spirit of the Expo. “We want to show what’s new and different in the industry, and how much better to enjoy it while you’re doing it?"
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