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May 21, 2024

S2E34 - Inside the National Restaurant Association Show: Trends, Tech & Sustainability with Marcus Viscidi

Discover insights from Marcus Viscidi on food service trends, tech, and sustainability challenges in trade shows.

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Logo blanc WISK-> All episodes <-

May 21, 2024

S2E34 - Inside the National Restaurant Association Show: Trends, Tech & Sustainability with Marcus Viscidi

Discover insights from Marcus Viscidi on food service trends, tech, and sustainability challenges in trade shows.

Lien vers le lecteur Podcast d'AppleLien vers le lecteur Podcast de SpotifyLien vers le lecteur Google Podcasts

Notes du spectacle

Marcus Viscidi, VP of Enterprise Sales at Informa Connect, discusses the trends and challenges in the food service industry, particularly in relation to trade shows and conferences. He highlights the importance of technology in streamlining operations and improving customer experiences. Viscidi also mentions the rise of plant-based options and sustainability as key trends in the industry. He emphasizes the need for experienced and well-capitalized operators in the restaurant business and discusses the importance of addressing food waste and reducing single-use plastic. The conversation covers topics such as plastic waste in the restaurant industry, trends in the post-COVID landscape, and trade shows in the food service industry. The main themes are sustainability, industry trends, and trade shows.

Takeaways

  • Technology plays a crucial role in streamlining operations and improving customer experiences in the food service industry.
  • The rise of plant-based options and sustainability are important trends in the industry.
  • Experienced and well-capitalized operators are more likely to succeed in the restaurant business.
  • Addressing food waste and reducing single-use plastic are key sustainability challenges in the industry. Plastic waste is a significant issue in the restaurant industry, with approximately 30% of food purchased in restaurants going to waste.
  • Restaurants are exploring ways to reduce waste and optimize their ordering to minimize food waste.
  • The post-COVID landscape has seen a shift towards convenience and experience as key factors for consumers.
  • Alcohol consumption among Gen Z is decreasing, which may impact full-service restaurants that rely on alcohol sales.
  • Trade shows, such as the National Restaurant Association show, provide valuable opportunities for networking, learning, and staying updated on industry trends.

Timestamps

1:20 Informa Connect Introduction

3:29 Pre and Post Covid Event Trend Insights

5:10 The NRA Show Exhibits The Full Gamut of Restaurant Service Industry

07:09 Trends in the Restaurant Space

10:37 The Future of Technology in the Restaurant Industry

13:52 The Struggles of Being an Entrepreneur

15:19 Food Service Sector, Sustainability, and Food Waste Reduction

18:55 Marcus' Insights on Today's Successful Approach in the Restaurant Industry

21:43 The Impact of Changing Alcohol Consumption Habits

24:01 Future Shows: Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Supply Chain Summit, FStech

26:47 Tips on How to Effeciently Get the Most Out of the Event Trade Shows

30:38 How to Reach Marcus Viscidi

32:16 Advice to Aspiring Restaurant Business Owners

Ressources

Follow Marcus Viscidi on LinkedIn!

Learn more about Informa Connect

Transcript

Marcus Viscidi  [00:00:00]:

Maximize your time. Like, your email is not going away, stuff at home is not going away, stuff at the restaurant's not going away. But, like, you really do have a unique opportunity to disconnect, connect, and engage with both your supplier partners, with your peers. You can learn. You know, this is a very, like, listen, everybody's in competition with one another to a degree, but this is a very, like, open sharing industry where people want to exchange best practices, best ideas, what works, what doesn't work. And these events are a great way to really broaden your skill sets, but also come away with like, new ideas, new concepts, new things that may not have thought of beforehand. So I just tell folks, you know, be hospitable, you know, go to the sessions, go to the breakfasts, sit down with someone you've never met before, go to the cocktail parties, you know, stay out a little bit later than you typically would.

Angelo Esposito [00:00:49]:

Welcome to WISKing it all with your host, Angelo Esposito, co founder of WISK.ai, a food and beverage intelligence platform. We're going to be interviewing hospitality professionals around the world to really understand how they do what they do. Welcome to another episode of WISKing it all. We're here today with Marcus Viscidi, VP of enterprise sales at Informa Connect. Marcus, thanks for joining us.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:01:16]:

Yeah, no, thanks, Angelo. I really appreciate you, obviously including me on this, and I've been looking forward to this all week.

Angelo Esposito [00:01:21]:

Awesome. Well, look, it's good to have you here. I know there's a lot we're going to talk about, especially given your breadth of experience in the food service industry. Maybe just kick things off. Can you tell people a bit about what is Informa Connect?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:01:34]:

Yeah, for sure. Company called Informa Connect. We are a large publicly traded company that works across many verticals. So we do things in cybersecurity, defense, construction. And the vertical that I'm a part of is called informa food service. And really that is four main industries that we connect, buyers and sellers. So obviously restaurants, and that's everything. So independence, fine dining, QSR, fast casual, domestic, international restaurant chains.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:02:02]:

We operate in the non commercial space. So that's like your airmarks, your sodexos, your compasses, k through twelve hospitals, long term care facilities. We operate in the convenience store channel, you know, so seven elevens, Wawa sheets, Tim Hortons up by you. And then finally we operate in the grocery market. So your krogers, your whole Foods, your Myers, your publix, and within these four like, markets, really we have three divisions that suppliers, whether you sell food, beverage equipment, technology use to kind of educate and engage these end users and buyers. So we have a media division, you know, websites, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, email marketing, you know, digital banners, advertising. We also operate a data and insights business called technomic. So they do a lot of like syndicated and custom research.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:02:50]:

They do a lot of surveying, polling, a lot of consumer insights that work with both the brand side as well as, you know, the supplier side. And then the group that I'm in is our in person and events division. So we have events across the entire ecosystem. So like 50 people events to 75,000 people events. And, you know, it's a great business. You know, we're really excited coming out of COVID We've had, you know, record attendance, record revenue. So it's a good business, good time to be in the events business. You know, obviously the restaurant industry is a very hospitable industry.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:03:23]:

People like to congregate, gather, and that's definitely the case with these events.

Angelo Esposito [00:03:28]:

Interesting. I always wonder, like, from your experience, one thing I always think about is, you know, I think post COVID, people got that itch, obviously be back in person and whatnot. Do you find it went back to the levels it was pre COVID or even more because it was that like two years of like, no, no physical presence.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:03:45]:

Yeah, it's interesting. So, like, right, coming out of COVID we were ahead of COVID levels. You know, everybody was just so excited to get back out to events, attend events. We've also, you know, in the last, like six to twelve months, I don't want to say seen a dip, but there's a lot of events right now, especially in the restaurant industry and food service industry. It seems like every single week there is an event. There was a, there's been a major surge post COVID on event launches, segment specific launches. So we're seeing more events in like, culinary, we're seeing more events in like, hr and labor, we're seeing more events in technology. So people are pressed for time.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:04:24]:

But with that being said, like shows, conferences, they are very efficient. You know, I think the days of being on planes every single week is probably not coming back like it was pre COVID. So people look at these events as a way to go to one place at one time, see all their vendors, see all their franchisee partners, you know, have a little bit of fun, obviously see some great speakers network, go to some nice dinners. But it is a good format and way to kind of prevent you from being on a plane every single week. And I don't see events, you know, being upended by AI anytime soon. Especially in the restaurant industry.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:01]:

That's fair. And I know obviously I was about to say one of the biggest shows, but you might interrupt me and say it is the biggest show. I feel like it must be the biggest. One of the biggest. But NRA, yes. So National Restaurant association show. I'd love to chat a bit about that because I gotta. First of all, I gotta come clean.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:18]:

Every year I say I'm gonna go. And I still have not been. So this is super embarrassing. I haven't been, but I'd love to hear from you. Right. I think if I'm not mistaken, you've been involved with it for about ten years, give or take.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:05:31]:

Yeah, I've been working on the National Restaurant association show for about five years. So I kinda went through the whole pre COVID, post COVID scenario, but all good.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:39]:

Yeah.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:05:39]:

I mean, you have to come. The restaurant show is the show for food and May 18 through the 21st, Chicago McCormick center. It is the largest food and beverage show in the western hemisphere. So we have 2000 plus exhibitors. Over 675,000 exhibit space. 60 70,000 attendees come each year. About 50% of that are food service operators. And what's nice is that the entire ecosystem is represented.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:06:08]:

This is not just like an independent restaurant show. It's not just a pizza show. You have the full gamut of people that are involved with the food service and restaurant industry. From CEO's of multinational QSR chains to culinary students from Johnson and Wales. So the great thing about the show is that everything is represented. You have food, beverage equipment, technology services. And it really is the one place where you can go and see everything at one time. Because there are a lot of like segment specific events.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:06:38]:

You know, whether it's an HR show or a labor show or a. It shows show. You know, this is really the one event in the industry that has everything at one place at one time and. Yeah. No, Angelo, it would be a shame if you didn't come. We still have space.

Angelo Esposito [00:06:53]:

This year might be the year.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:06:54]:

Yeah, you should. You should come. I think you'd enjoy it. Chicago in May. You know, whether it can be hit or miss. But when it's nice, it's great. And when it's not nice, it's great as well.

Angelo Esposito [00:07:04]:

That's awesome. And you know, just talking a bit about the show, obviously you having five years of experience, I'd love to get your take on like trends that you've seen. You know, having all those people in one place and all those companies and all that good stuff in one place, I'm sure you're on the front lines of seeing trends. So just, you know, you can give a few, but whatever come to mind. What are trends that you're seeing happening in the restaurant space?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:07:26]:

Yeah. So over the last five years, like, obviously the biggest trend has been technology. You know, I think if you look back like 20 years ago, like, the biggest invention within the restaurant industry was like point of sale, you know, and it was just kind of, you know, managing your till. And what we've really seen over the last five years is kind of the rise of software, and that's for everything. So cost of goods and services like menu management, you know, reputation management across all the different review platforms and websites. So I don't see that slowing down anytime soon. You know, I kind of liken what's happening into the restaurant industry to retail ten years ago, you know, we're going from the straight brick and mortar business to this, like, omni channel customer experience. So what does that mean? You know, it means that you went from opening your doors and closing your doors to now having to do first party delivery, third party delivery, catering to go pick up, you know, and that all makes your operation much more complex.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:08:23]:

And, you know, software technology can help. You know, it can definitely streamline things. It can help you with your labor. It can help you with your cogs. It can help you with, you know, your scheduling. And there are a lot of different functions that can be fixed or augmented or just improved upon with the use of technology. Another big trend that we're seeing is plant based. You know, obviously the rise of the impossibles and the beyonds, but also a lot of niche bit players like Tyndall.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:08:49]:

I think the messaging has shifted a little bit. Initially, it was all just health conscious. Time has gone on. It's really more about supply chain and augmenting your supply chain and opening up to a broader spectrum of consumers. Not everybody is going to be a carnivore. Not everybody is going to be eating meat four, five, six times a week. You know, reach the vegetarians, reach the vegans, reach the flexitarians, but also, you know, talking about, like, the environmental impact and how it can help on, you know, limiting the use of beef and chicken and, you know, livestock, if you will. And then a more near term trend that we're really seeing a lot of is robotics.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:09:30]:

You know, I think obviously that kind of encompasses a little bit of technology. But what I'm seeing is, you know, a lot of different companies and suppliers and providers are coming out with solutions that don't totally change the fabric of a restaurant, but really just kind of augment the existing operations. So, like, flipping burgers or saucing pizzas or bussing tables. And it's exciting because, you know, a lot of those jobs are very mundane. They're very challenging. Running restaurants is a tough business. So it allows these frontline employees to go from doing these, like, mundane, repetitive tasks that, you know, can sometimes be dangerous. Like working a fryer, to go to actually, like, running a business, you know, like managing people, managing a p and l, doing scheduling, you know, dealing with personalities, you know, and really getting back to, like, the business skills.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:10:22]:

All that stuff has to get done. But if someone else or a, you know, piece of robot can kind of take care of those things for you, then it allows you to really focus on some of the hierarchy, things that need to be dealt with at a restaurant.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:36]:

Right. No. Well said. It's funny on the robotic side. Like, I had a few interesting conversations. I mean, I'm not on top of all the robotics up, but definitely seen some of the busing stuff. And what our guest was talking about, I think it was Chipotle with, like, avocado slicer. I'll forget the name, but I remember it was always a clever name, whatever it was.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:54]:

Autocado. I remember it was a clever. But I can remember the name Autocado. So. Yeah, things like that. And we actually had one guest who was doing. It's called Tiny Mile. I think it was last mile delivery.

Angelo Esposito [00:11:07]:

Super interesting. They got, like, they're only based in Miami. They got, like, 100 robots on the road, maybe more, but now, and it's all about just that small radius and just doing that kind of last mile, so super interesting. I totally agree, because the analogy I always give is, like, when I think about, like, the coolest things that happened to the restaurant space, it's. To your point, it was open table, which is awesome. But if you think about it, they're 20 years old, and then point of sale or cloud point of sales was the newest cool thing. And then I was like, now what? And then, to your point, the last five years, it's like everything from scheduling to stuff like WISK, like cogs to reputation, man, there's so much a social media management. There's so much going on.

Angelo Esposito [00:11:44]:

Delivery stuff, you name it, chargebacks, whatever. And I'm curious, how do you think that is gonna play out in the future? Because on one hand, obviously, there's so many things that are helpful, but it's also hard, I find for a restaurant to have, like, twelve different apps they use. What do you see happening in the future?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:12:00]:

Yeah, it's interesting. So, like, you look in the past, and, like, in the 1950s, people would go out to restaurants, like, three times a year. You know, food service is, like, ingrained in our society. You know, there's 21 meal functions a week. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. And, you know, I think, like, 50% of those meal functions, I'm going out, you know, whether that's coffee in the morning or quick lunch in the afternoon or family dinner. So my point is, is that, like, the concept of dining out, the concept of food service is not going away. I only think it's going to continue to intensify with time.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:12:32]:

But inexperienced restaurateurs is really kind of coming to an end. Like what we kind of saw, you know, whatever late nineties, early two thousands was. People just, like, giving it a shot. You know, I'm a retired executive or I'm a doctor, and this is my passion project. Like, I really want to try to, you know, open up a restaurant and be that person who has all their friends. No, that's done. And what we really are seeing now is, like, the experienced, sophisticated, well capitalized restaurateur, the person who knows how to kind of open restaurants, capitalize on markets, also bring new stuff to markets, you know, because, like, what works in Manhattan might not work in Wichita. And I just think that, like, those types of restaurant tours are going to continue to pick up share, you know? And I also see, like, the rise of the chains that don't look like chains, like sweet green.

Angelo Esposito [00:13:22]:

Right?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:13:22]:

You know, sweet green is super cool, super, you know, niche in vogue. Each restaurant looks very different. It's a different experience. The menu is seasonal, but they're a chain. You know, they have the scale of a chain. They have the breadth and size of a chain. So again, food service restaurants, they're not going away. But I think, you know, the.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:13:43]:

The retired doctor or accountant who wants to give it a shot probably should just save his 401k for something else.

Angelo Esposito [00:13:52]:

It's funny, we were actually talking about that couple episodes ago. I forget who I was talking with, but it was exactly that. And it was the idea that it's, it's. Being an entrepreneur is hard enough, or business owner in general is hard enough. And restaurants, I would argue, is probably one of the hardest business owner things to do. And it's. It's. I guess it's a bit ironic when you think about it because it's like starting your own thing is hard and starting a restaurant just like ten times harder.

Angelo Esposito [00:14:14]:

So it's funny how, like you said nineties, it was like, I'm not sure what to do. Let me start a restaurant. But it's like you're literally picking the hardest thing to do because you need so many things to go right. It's like, it's not just the food, it's not just the service, not just. There's like literally a checklist that's never ending of things that need to go right for you to succeed, which is, I find, crazy.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:14:34]:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, they're, they're juggling a lot of plates and it's a hard business. And, you know, obviously you can be very successful. You know, there are restaurants that do incredibly well. There are, you know, personnel people within the industry that do incredibly well, both financially as well as just career arc wise. But it's a tough business and it's a grind. And that's why I think, you know, what we're seeing right now is sophisticated operators who know what they're getting into, who have the financial resources, but also the experience and capital to kind of make things successful because it's not cheap. I mean, even if you go open a franchise, I mean, you're still looking at a 200 to million dollar investment.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:15:15]:

And that's, you know, that's a big nut to kind of carry.

Angelo Esposito [00:15:19]:

Right. And I know one of the big topics, obviously, and you kind of touched on it briefly, but in the food service sector, sustainability, I'd love to, to maybe touch on that. Like where do you see, you know, you talked a bit about what the plant based up. Where do you see that, that theme of sustainability kind of heading towards?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:15:34]:

Yeah, I mean, sustainability can mean a lot of things. You know, it could be like carbon, you know, emissions reduction. It could be, you know, just reducing single use plastic. You know, for me, like my, whatever passion within like sustainability is the reduction of food waste. You know, I think in this country, like hunger is still an issue, you know, and it really shouldn't be because it's not an issue of like, abundance. We have more than enough food. It's really about waste and access. And I think that like one, there's a lot of carbon emissions, like with food waste, you know, it's hard to kind of like, you know, dispose of.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:16:15]:

It's hard to kind of like compost it. And a lot of people don't do that. And, you know, we're just leaving a lot of food on the table, and a lot of people that could be getting access to this food, this quality product are just unfortunately not getting that. So to me, that's probably the lowest hanging fruit. The thing that I would want to, like, kind of focus on next and then obviously going forward, single use plastic, something's got to change there. You know, I know there's a lot of legislation right now in Europe that's happening around, you know, the composition of the plastic, it's got to be biodegradable. It's got to biodegrade within a certain amount of time. And I know California is kind of like dipping their toes in the water on, you know, implementing some of those, you know, rules and laws.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:16:58]:

But, yeah, those are really the two things. Food waste and single use plastic. I hope that as an industry, it can be addressed because, you know, again, there's a lot of people who are eating out a lot. And with the rise of, like, third party delivery and delivery and pickup to go, there's only going to be more of it, more waste. So how as an industry, do we kind of, you know, curtail some of our plastic use? Because we all know ultimately where it ends up, which is in like rivers and waterways in the ocean, unfortunately.

Angelo Esposito [00:17:28]:

Yeah, it's interesting because the food waste issue, like, the last stat I remember, unless it's changed since. But it's something like 30% of food purchased in a restaurant goes to waste. Right? And so when you think of it, like, on the WISK side, okay, we're software. We try to help them optimize their ordering based on sales. And so that'll help, hopefully that their purchases become tighter and there's less waste. But it's such a high number. And, you know, we have such a small part of this segment. There's millions of restaurants.

Angelo Esposito [00:17:55]:

And so to your point, it is a massive problem. And it's like, it's a big number, right? Like, 30% isn't a small chunk of change. A third of food is going in the garbage.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:18:04]:

And it's also to the benefit of, you know, listen, I think people are financially incentivized. You know, like, at the end of the day, like, operators need to understand that, like, that 30% is coming out of your bottom line, you know, and, like, obviously some waste is unavoidable, but, like, whatever you can do to minimize whatever you can do to even just reroute that food to food banks or to, like, local organizations and institutions that, like, need product you know, are constantly looking for product. You know, that's better than it just going into the trash.

Angelo Esposito [00:18:37]:

That makes sense. And then if we look back, like the last few years, obviously it's been tough, to put it mildly, for restaurants. Generally speaking. Obviously some. Some more crushing out there. But generally speaking, the landscape has been tough during COVID and post COVID and recouping what. What kind of trends or things have you seen restaurants doing that are working? I know we generally start talking about some different tech, but I'd love to know from your perspective, what are things that some companies are doing that you're like, yeah, this is working.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:19:03]:

You got to look to the consumer, and we can talk, like, specifically, like, X, Y, and Z restaurant is doing this. That I think is pretty cool, but, like, let's talk in, like, broader brushes. So right now, I think the consumer only wants one of two things. Convenience or experience. Okay? Convenience is coffee in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, delivery when my work goes late and kids are hungry. Okay? The other end of the spectrum is experience. And that could be a lot of things. That could be high end buffet, low end buffet.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:19:31]:

That could be, you know, a birthday dinner, an anniversary, a wedding. You know, anything kind of in the middle is going to struggle a little bit. You know, the other things that we're seeing is, you know, less people are drinking. You know, I think coming out of COVID people either have reduced their alcohol intake or, you know, they're drinking at home because it's less expensive. So I think that, like, bars are going to be challenged a little bit going forward. Anything that isn't, like, super convenient or super experiential is going to be challenged going forward. You know, I think, like, things that have drive thrus have obviously done very well just because of the convenience factor. You know, I think catering is really hot right now.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:20:13]:

You know, catering is not something that, like, people want anymore, but, like, really expect it, you know, and it's not just, like, going into the office and, like, having bagels. It's like, you know, essential workers. You know, like, I do a lot of business with a company called Easycator out of Boston, and, you know, right when COVID happened, they were like, wait a second. Like, all of our customers aren't in their offices anymore, so where do we go now? And they went to hospitals and they went to colleges, like, you know, police stations and, like, places where, like, people have to actually go into work every single day. So I think convenience experience things would drive through. Catering is really hot, low. No alcohol is going to continue to kind of rise in prominence. I'm also starting to see some international brands coming here.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:20:59]:

I think Gen Z is a little more flavor forward, if you will, in terms of trying new things, willing to experiment, being open to different cuisine types. And that's going to be kind of interesting to see, like, any mega chains will come out of that trend. But again, you know, 7.6 billion people wake up hungry every single day, you know, and it's now just a matter of, like, capturing that demand, you know, like, people got it. So I do think there's going to be a lot of, like, interesting concepts and restaurant types that come out of, you know, the past four or five years post COVID, as well as, you know, some of the things that I'm sure being cooked up in the lab as we speak.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:42]:

Right, right. It's funny, I want to just dive a little deeper on one of the topics just because it's something that I've been thinking about as well, which is the alcoholic side. Yeah. When it comes to alcohol, I do find, and I think there's, you know, data to support. But, like, generally, Gen Z is not, you know, drinking as much as, like, previous generation and probably not as much as our parents, definitely. Yeah, you know, like, having a scotch at the right after work kind of thing, or in the middle of work, maybe. But. But definitely, I think there's, like, a trend of, like, less and less alcohol.

Angelo Esposito [00:22:10]:

How do you see that? Because, like, how do you see that affecting certain places, knowing that for a lot of full service restaurants, a lot of the most profitable items are the wine and the liquor and the cocktails, which kind of almost sometimes support the rest of the operation. Sure, with that trend going downwards and there's still time, but as these gen Zs get older, they don't really care about that $20 cocktail or that nightclub experience and model service, what do you think is going to happen to those types of venues?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:22:37]:

I mean, listen, I don't think they're ever going to go away. I don't think they're ever going to go out of business. But I think you'll start seeing smaller venues. You know, I think, like, what you'll experience with a lot of these restaurants is the bigger it is, the more expensive it is to run, own, operate, you know, staff, you know, utilities. So I think there is going to be a big trend for, like, smaller nightclubs, cocktail clubs, whether it's low, no alcohol, alcohol included. You know, I do think that there's some opportunity there for more experiential like non alcoholic, low alcoholic experiences, you know, whether that's like meal pairings and, you know, wine pairings without alcohol in it, you know, listen, alcohol is not going away. I just think if you look at some of the trend lines with younger generation, they are not, you know, frequenting bars as much as older generations. If they are drinking, you know, it's usually typically done at home.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:23:32]:

Now that could change as their income continues to go up and they, you know, have more disposables. But the question really just comes down to who can capture those dollars? And what is Gen Z looking for from an experiential perspective?

Angelo Esposito [00:23:45]:

That's fair. The other question I wanted to touch on a bit about is at Informa Connect. I know you kind of, I guess, manages the right word, but work on several different trade shows. Obviously, we talked about the National Restaurant association, which is the biggest. What other shows are you kind of working on? Or do you work on it?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:24:04]:

Yeah, no, no. Great question. So we actually got a big one coming up this weekend called Restaurant Leadership Conference. So that's an annual.

Angelo Esposito [00:24:09]:

Yeah, I've heard of that.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:24:10]:

Yep. Yep. So that's an annual event that happens in Phoenix in 2023. We had about 1000 restaurant executives who represented over 300,000 site locations. So this is like the Super bowl for the chains. You know, we're really focusing on anybody that has 20 or above locations. And from like an audience perspective, it's gonna really be people and ops, finance, marketing, HR, a little bit of culinary, little bit of insights, and then obviously some folks from the C suite. We also have an event coming up in July called the Global Supply Chain Summit.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:24:39]:

So this is a very like niche, small meeting, you know, 100, 150 people. And it's really about like supply chain. So it's about food distribution, beverage equipment, you know, how do you get that product into the store level, you know, on a really enterprise level? So we're excited about that. We're going to be doing a Pandas headquarters in Rosemead, California. They're, yes, graciously hosting us. So it'll probably be like 25, 30 supply chain executives, you know, 50 suppliers or so. In the fall, we have a great event that I think would make sense for WISK. It's called fStech.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:25:13]:

So that is really, you know, a technology show. So just straight like it ops, finance folks, that really covers the entire ecosystem. So independence, you know, chains, we get some colleges, we get some non commercial with the Aramarks and the Sodexos are doing a show in Singapore. So we got.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:32]:

Oh, wow.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:25:33]:

We're bringing fs tech to Singapore. So they do this thing called Fha Jreka, which is for, like, hotels, restaurants, cafes, and it's massive. This is like 30, 40,000 person show in Singapore. And we're gonna have a small, little, like, hub for fs tech. So anybody who is looking to expand into that region, they love technology, they love services, and, yeah, we're real excited about that. And then a lot of just small meetings, you know, 100 people, 200 people type stuff, you know? So really, my busy season is, like, now through June and then the fall.

Angelo Esposito [00:26:09]:

Okay.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:26:09]:

So, you know, it's kind of like the sprint right now, but it's exciting. A lot of moving pieces, a lot of moving parts. But it's really, it's great to see these things come together. You know, I do believe in the power of events. I think they're very efficient. I think they're very, you know, enriching. I think people really enjoy them. You know, the same people come back, and if they can't come back, they, they want to come back.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:26:32]:

And I know that we've got a good slate of events coming up over the next, like, six months or so.

Angelo Esposito [00:26:36]:

That's awesome. We'll make sure to definitely at the end, by the way, we'll plug all your stuff, and then when we release the episode, we'll put all kinds of links. But speaking of all this, you know, you mentioned super interesting events. I'm sure that our listeners are probably thinking, how can I make the most out of my time at these trade shows? And I think you're probably a pretty good person to ask. So any tips for our listeners? We have a lot of restaurant that listen, but really pretty wide audience. So any tips on, like, hey, how can they get the most out of any of these trade shows?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:27:03]:

Yeah, my recommendation is just be present. You know, you've spent the time, energy, and resources to come to this. Maximize your time. Like, your email's not going away, stuff at home is not going away stuff. The restaurant's not going away. But, like, you really do have a unique opportunity to disconnect, connect, and engage with both your supplier partners with your peers. You can learn. You know, this is a very, like, listen, everybody's in competition with one another to a degree, but this is a very, like, open sharing industry where people want to exchange best practices, best ideas, what works, what doesn't work.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:27:34]:

And these events are a great way to really broaden your skill sets, but also come away with, like, new ideas, new concepts, new things, that may not have thought of beforehand. So I just tell folks, you know, be hospitable, you know, go to the sessions, go to the breakfasts, sit down with someone you've never met before, go to the cocktail parties, you know, stay out a little bit later than you typically would, you know, because all the stuff that you're working on, all the things that you're dealing with at your restaurant, they're not going away. They're still there. They're going to be there on Monday. Enjoy the time. You've spent a lot of individual resources, personal resources, business resources to be there. And it's your responsibility to maximize that time and it's your responsibility to enjoy it. Have some fun, but really try and get the most out of it.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:28:22]:

And when I see folks sitting on their laptop all the time, never going to the trade show, never going to the different breakouts, and they come back to me like I didn't get anything. Well, what did you put into it? So the same energy and excitement that you put into your restaurant, into your business, into your life, you know, just do that for 24, 48 hours and see what happens. And usually, typically when people do that, they're happy, they're excited, they're invigorated, they're energized, and, you know, sometimes they get some business out of it.

Angelo Esposito [00:28:50]:

That's awesome. And in terms of maybe like prepping, are there things you recommend people do ahead of the show? So definitely once they're at the show, be present, disconnect with maybe the outside world and try to be super present and make the most out of it. Any tips on what they should maybe do coming up to it?

Marcus Viscidi  [00:29:06]:

Yeah. So I would just, like, map out your experience. So, like, what do you want to go to? What are the different things? Because there's a lot of moving parts. I mean, especially at the National Restaurant association show, I think we're doing like, you know, 190 sessions, you know what I mean? Like 190 different educational content sessions. So everybody's got like different job responsibilities, titles like, you know, what is applicable to you and your business might not be applicable to somebody who's an HR, you know what I mean? So it's your responsibility to spend a little bit of time, kind of download the agenda. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be in? Because the goal is to be around like minded people, folks that are looking for the same stuff as, you know. So if like, you're tasked with implementing a new cost of goods services, you know, technology solution for your 30 location restaurant chain. Like, go to those sessions around, you know, supply chain and logistics and procurement and menu trends and, like, reducing waste, because those people are going to be there.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:30:03]:

You know, they're going to be there and they're going to be listening, they're going to be learning and just, you know, put yourself out there, you know, I mean, at the end of the day, like, you're not going to get anything if you just, you know, worry about yourself and the things that you've got going on. People are very friendly in this industry. They're very hospitable. I think when I started in this business, I was so nervous, like, oh, my gosh, why would this CEO ever speak to me? But you know what? I just got over that and I just kept going at them and saying hello and introducing myself. And now we're family friends, right?

Angelo Esposito [00:30:35]:

That's awesome. And then I got to ask you this. What's next for you? I mean, it sounds like you're at Informa Connect now. It sounds like you got a ton of trade shows coming up and you got a lot of work to do. But anything you want to share or highlight, this is your chance. And I'd also love for you to plug ways people can reach out to you or your website or all that good stuff.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:30:55]:

Yeah. So, you know, number one recommendation is if you are a restaurant executive, restaurant operator, food service operator, please, please join us at the National Restaurant association show May 18 through the 21st in Chicago. It's at the McCormick center. This is the one place, the one event where you can see everything from food, beverage equipment, technology, services, solutions. I mean, it is the super bowl of restaurants. And you are going to be amongst your peers. You're going to have an opportunity to listen, learn, talk about, like, what's going on in your day to day and hear from other people who are doing it well and hopefully ultimately take things away from your restaurant experience, restaurant show experience and bring it back to your operations at home. So that's kind of like the short term thing, long term, you know, let's get connected on LinkedIn.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:31:38]:

I'm pretty active on there. Always got stuff going on, posting things, you know, would love to learn from you all. You know, I am not a restaurant operator. I'm not a restaurant executive. I am very passionate about the industry, but I do need to learn, you know? So, like, what is going on in your world? What are the things that you're seeing? What are the trends that you're seeing? Because we are always looking for content. We are always looking for speakers. We're always looking for, you know, what's out there in the marketplace and we're in a silo, you know, we're sitting here planning events, trade shows, conferences. So please reach out, don't hesitate.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:32:08]:

We will consider anyone and everyone, you know, obviously within reason. But you know, that's something that we're always looking for help with is the content piece to wrap up.

Angelo Esposito [00:32:18]:

I always like to just ask for, you know, a piece of advice. So really for those maybe people listening who are aspiring to make their mark in the food service or hospitality industry, any advice that you would offer based on your experiences, be passionate.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:32:32]:

This is an industry full of passionate people, hardworking people, people that genuinely care about what they do. I just think early in your career, if you're excited, if you are positive, if you are coachable, you can go very far. I think the restaurant industry is truly one of the few true meritocracy he's left in business. You know, there are so many instances of, you know, fry cooks. Don Thompson, former CEO, McDonald's guy started on the front line and he became the CEO of the restaurant, you know, and that is across, you know, the entire industry. You know, like this is a way for people that have low education, no education, to be successful, both financially, professionally, personally. So bring that passion, bring that excitement, work hard, you know, obviously kind of look long term into what it is you want to do and how the restaurant industry can be a part of that.

Angelo Esposito [00:33:27]:

I love that. Well said. Once again, Marcus Viscidi, thanks for joining us on the WISKing it all podcast.

Marcus Viscidi  [00:33:34]:

Alright man, thank you so much. I appreciate it boss.

Angelo Esposito [00:33:36]:

Take care. Feel free to check out WISK.ai for more resources and schedule a demo with one of our product specialists to see if it's a fit for.

Meet Your Host & Guest

Marcus Viscidi, VP of Enterprise Sales at Informa Connect

Marcus Viscidi, VP of Enterprise Sales at Informa Connect, leads conference and tradeshow sales, production, and marketing for major events like the National Restaurant Association Show and Restaurant Leadership Conference. With expertise in event experience management, he ensures impactful experiences for attendees across small, medium, and large-scale in-person gatherings.

ANGELO ESPOSITO, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF WISK.AI

Meet Angelo Esposito, the Co-Founder and CEO of WISK.ai, Angelo's vision is to revolutionize the hospitality industry by creating an inventory software that allows bar and restaurant owners to streamline their operations, improve their margins and sales, and minimize waste. With over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, Angelo deeply understands the challenges faced by bar and restaurant owners. From managing inventory to tracking sales to forecasting demand, Angelo has seen it all firsthand. This gave him the insight he needed to create WISK.ai.

Recent Episodes

S2E34 - Inside the National Restaurant Association Show: Trends, Tech & Sustainability with Marcus Viscidi

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Notes du spectacle

Marcus Viscidi, VP of Enterprise Sales at Informa Connect, discusses the trends and challenges in the food service industry, particularly in relation to trade shows and conferences. He highlights the importance of technology in streamlining operations and improving customer experiences. Viscidi also mentions the rise of plant-based options and sustainability as key trends in the industry. He emphasizes the need for experienced and well-capitalized operators in the restaurant business and discusses the importance of addressing food waste and reducing single-use plastic. The conversation covers topics such as plastic waste in the restaurant industry, trends in the post-COVID landscape, and trade shows in the food service industry. The main themes are sustainability, industry trends, and trade shows.

Takeaways

  • Technology plays a crucial role in streamlining operations and improving customer experiences in the food service industry.
  • The rise of plant-based options and sustainability are important trends in the industry.
  • Experienced and well-capitalized operators are more likely to succeed in the restaurant business.
  • Addressing food waste and reducing single-use plastic are key sustainability challenges in the industry. Plastic waste is a significant issue in the restaurant industry, with approximately 30% of food purchased in restaurants going to waste.
  • Restaurants are exploring ways to reduce waste and optimize their ordering to minimize food waste.
  • The post-COVID landscape has seen a shift towards convenience and experience as key factors for consumers.
  • Alcohol consumption among Gen Z is decreasing, which may impact full-service restaurants that rely on alcohol sales.
  • Trade shows, such as the National Restaurant Association show, provide valuable opportunities for networking, learning, and staying updated on industry trends.

Timestamps

1:20 Informa Connect Introduction

3:29 Pre and Post Covid Event Trend Insights

5:10 The NRA Show Exhibits The Full Gamut of Restaurant Service Industry

07:09 Trends in the Restaurant Space

10:37 The Future of Technology in the Restaurant Industry

13:52 The Struggles of Being an Entrepreneur

15:19 Food Service Sector, Sustainability, and Food Waste Reduction

18:55 Marcus' Insights on Today's Successful Approach in the Restaurant Industry

21:43 The Impact of Changing Alcohol Consumption Habits

24:01 Future Shows: Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Supply Chain Summit, FStech

26:47 Tips on How to Effeciently Get the Most Out of the Event Trade Shows

30:38 How to Reach Marcus Viscidi

32:16 Advice to Aspiring Restaurant Business Owners

Ressources

Follow Marcus Viscidi on LinkedIn!

Learn more about Informa Connect