Stacy Hodge on the new 2024 education program
Show education is changing in 2024. Stacy Hodge, the Show’s Senior Director of Programming, offers her perspective on the updates, the new Expo + Education badge and what Show participants can expect from this approach.
October 23, 2023
Education is a big part of what makes the Restaurant Show so valuable for foodservice pros. In 2024, an expanded and reimagined program will be introduced, offering attendees a "focused learning" approach that prioritizes connection, strategy-sharing and take-home ideas. We interviewed Stacy Hodge, Senior Director of Programming, to delve into the details of this change and its numerous benefits. Here’s our conversation.
1. What ideas or influences went into the creation of this new education program?
Answer: We’ve been hearing from our audience—especially in recent years—that they want to have an opportunity to connect more directly with operators who are doing significant things with their businesses. With this new education, we’re able to bring more of the operator voice to the Show through sessions focused on critical topics that address opportunities for growth. During the creation process, we really listened to what our industry experts said would be of most interest to our foodservice audience and we also listened to what our attendee audience wanted, which is a more focused, quality learning experience.
2. What kinds of experiences/opportunities are available to attendees within the 2024 education program?
Answer: With our new Expo + Education badge, attendees can choose from a wide array of topics that are most relevant to them; we’ll have over 40 operator-led sessions to choose from. Each of our sessions will offer critical takeaways and tangible strategies and resources that can be applied to business. We’re also working on other new ways for attendees to connect directly with fellow operators and industry experts. We’re going to have roundtables—available exclusively for those who sign up for this Expo + Education badge—that will help facilitate some of those focused conversations that spark ideas and get people in a mindset for business growth. We’ll have discussions on a whole slew of topics that will help bring people together who may have not otherwise crossed paths at the Show.
3. What kinds of speakers can attendees expect to see leading sessions in 2024? What makes these speakers unique?
Answer: We are excited to leverage industry experts who are operators as speakers because they’re the ones managing the day-to-day, boots on the ground; they’re the executives making those business decisions and problem solving to keep their businesses moving forward. We’ll have some speakers from large chains and restaurant brands who have unique perspectives in big business and can share proven strategies and insights that can be scaled for any size business. We’ll also have some independent operator speakers deliver insights on creative approaches to operations, as often those leaders have to wear multiple hats. Their perspectives can help any type of operator learn to manage the pieces of their business in a way that’s effective and efficient.
4. How will this new education program benefit attendees? What can they hope to take away?
Answer: I think one prime opportunity coming into education like this is being open-minded; sitting down and saying “hi” to your neighbor as you dive into a session and not being shy to ask questions while you have this dedicated time with experts and peers. It’s really a benefit for attendees to learn from fellow operators and hear strategies that have worked, learn from their peers’ mistakes, and take away both practical information and bigger ideas that they can present to their teams for consideration. We’re also going to make sure our speakers are providing resources and reference materials like checklists, step-by-step guides and things like that. As part of the Expo + Education badge, all participants will have on-demand access to the full suite of education session recordings and materials online, including videos of the speakers in the room, presentation materials and all reference materials. We know with the amount of education we’re offering that you won’t be able to attend every session, and that’s okay. You won’t be missing out because you’ll have all the content available at your fingertips after the Show.
5. Anything else you’d like to say about the new education program?
Answer: I want to say that we’ve been very diligent in how we’re scheduling education so that you’re still able to go about the rest of your day conducting business as you need to on the Show floor—visiting vendors, exploring new products and participating in on-floor programming. Again, you’re going to have access to a fantastic array of content and experts by way of education sessions, but it’s just the first part of the day from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. We’re being extra mindful of your goals so that we can make sure you get the most out of your Show experience.
For more information on 2024 education, click here.
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