Food shows: Chef-owners take the stage and boost brand visibility
Not only do restaurant trade shows provide opportunities for networking. They offer a minefield of inspiration, including solutions to current issues with restaurant branding and marketing.
Food expos also help you increase your reach and demonstrate your unique approach to food and service. To get the most from your budget, attend restaurant / food trade shows aimed at your target audience and deliver a branded experience that boosts your head chef’s reputation.
Select expos that amplify your prowess as a chef.
Look for local and national events that offer demonstrations, workshops, and helpful panels for attendees. These expos and conferences are prime events for showcasing your unique skills and restaurant brand while establishing credibility and extending brand visibility.
Some shows, like the Healthy Food Expo New York, give chefs the stage to woo attendees with scrumptious dishes. Others, like the National Restaurant Show, combine expert presentations with demos and after-hours insights with chefs.
Find opportunities for positive PR at events by:
- Contacting community leaders and hospitality professionals.
- Getting leads from your vendors and event sponsors.
- Researching past participants from food shows for insights.
No matter what role you have at the restaurant event, you’ll want to bring along materials to promote your brand and entice attendees to dine at your restaurant.
Design compelling trade show materials.
From your restaurant booth design to your food-focused flyer, it’s essential to tailor your communications to the expo audience. If the show appeals to a plant-based diet, then you’ll want to highlight your nutrient-dense offerings.
So, your fried chicken homestyle dinner is probably out. But if it’s an event centered around a grass-fed lifestyle, then showcasing your farm-to-table fried chicken might just work.
Satisfy and appeal to attendees with a cohesive experience.
- Hand out materials that answer questions directly related to the interests of attendees, like restaurant FAQs or a chef “about me” flyer or brochure.
- Deliver a fun experience using foodie photo booths, relatable videos, and a comfy spot for sampling your coveted treats.
- Develop a landing page on your website for the food show that captures customer loyalty or email sign-ups. Create a flyer with a QR code to capture visitors inside the booth.
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If you’re exhibiting or speaking at a wine tasting event or a local food expo, then your marketing materials, restaurant promotions, and trade booth design should match the overall theme of the event.
While many items can be used over and over for extra cost-savings, you’ll want to get creative to ensure that your booth fits with the theme.
For example, if you’re doing a demonstration at an expo on local cuisine, then highlight the area and the people who enjoy your food.
- Create an interactive presentation showcasing from where your menu items originate.
- Add a photo booth for attendees to share their thoughts on your latest dish or demonstration.
- Distribute flyers with information about your event tasting menu.
Follow up across multiple platforms.
Your work isn’t done after you leave the show. Devise a communications strategy designed to enhance the attendee’s experience after the show ends. An excellent way to do this is by capturing relevant information about event attendees to customize your follow-up messages better.
However, don’t blast booth visitors with nonstop emails that aren’t relevant or add them to your mailing list without their consent. Instead, show your audience the people behind your restaurant brand.
- Showcase user-generated content and share a short video of your food presentation.
- Use social channels to thank your dedicated customers and offer testimonials from visitors to your food booth.
Each local expo or food show is an opportunity to demonstrate what differentiates your restaurant from others in the area. Do this with a creative booth design that appeals to your target market while gathering information on your potential guests and using that data to fuel future promotions.