As we gear up for Catersource 2019 in beautiful, historic New Orleans, we can’t help but to reflect on the reason for the (conference) season – continuing education, putting in the coveted face time with your partners, and making industry connections. For the catering industry, this is the must-see event of the year, and the benefits are immeasurable.
Outline your schedule
With any conference, it’s crucial that you take the time to prepare, whether that’s packing the essentials (sans the Mardi Gras beads) or simply doing your research on the featured exhibits and mapping out your trip schedule. Catersource is one of the most immersive experiences you can attend, and there’s certainly no shortage of creativity and innovation when it comes to visuals.
Map out which session topics you’re interested in ahead of time, while leaving plenty of room for happy hours, after-parties, and more. This is the perfect opportunity to score some fresh takes and inspiration from industry leaders.
Don’t forget the tradeshow – make sure you set aside some time to check out the floor and take advantage of show discounts. Scoping out any exhibits that you might have your eye on is another great way to prep and ensure that you get the best experience. We definitely recommend checking out the in-house food and beverage competitions as well!
Be prepared to network
Aside from the wonderful speaking sessions, having your sights set on networking is one of the best strategies you can have when it comes to attending Catersource. Scope out which pros you’d like to meet, re-connect with those long-distance contacts, and always be open to conversing with other attendees. As an introvert, I know that large crowds can be intimidating, especially when there are professionals you’re looking to meet face-to-face. Do what you have to do to put your best foot forward and introduce yourself – I promise that Catersource is the place where each interaction counts.
That being said, there’s no better time to pull out your business cards! Check your supply and restock if necessary; you don’t want to be caught without them if you happen to meet a fellow catering partner or a potential client. Make sure your social media and your website are both accessible and up-to-date, and don’t be afraid to take notes on who to follow up with post-conference. Doing so not only makes you memorable, but it shows that you’re a reliable contact to have and that you’re appreciative of meeting other industry partners. Your good attitude is the best thing you can pack.
Take advantage of these four days with some of the industry’s best and brightest. There are plenty of people that attend not knowing anyone, and they come out with some of the most incredible connections and lasting relationships. Everyone has their own reasons for attending a conference, but allowing yourself time to prep accordingly for Catersource is a small step with a much larger pay-off!