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All Five Bases Covered
We said a very long time ago that the face-to-face component of tradeshows and conferences is invaluable and the major reason that these experiential events would remain major marketing players, even in tough times and as technologies advance.
The recent PMA Foodservice Conference was overflowing with these sensory experiences and we ate/drank/breathed it all in – not letting a single sense go unquenched.
Below are just some of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of excellence that greeted us in Monterey. Many thanks to the organizers, exhibitors, attendees and locals who joined forces to present a splendid event!
- Monterey is about as picturesque as a convention destination can be, and The PMA Foundation and Freshway Foods made the most of it by hosting the Fresh Perspectives Women’s Reception in the tenth floor ballroom of the Marriott. Check out that view!
- Tradeshows are big on the “visual” and this event was no exception. It’s important to stand out amid the din (see below) and these folks stood out in style!
- Growers Express not only grabbed attendees’ attention with a dramatic, Brussels sprouts-laden floral arrangement, but also created a Zen-like retreat from the bustling aisles with a simple and clean booth space.
- Duda Farm Fresh Foods not only won the People’s Choice Award, they also successfully showcased their products in their natural setting – a farm fresh produce stand complete with Mason jars and other folksy props that obviously resonated with attendees!
- USA Pears already knocked our socks off with their digital presence, and it’s as if they brought that same welcoming and informative experience to life in the new booth they debuted in Monterey.
- The din of a busy show floor is a welcome noise, especially for exhibiting companies and event organizers who’ve spent oodles of resources to reach that decibel goal. The ballroom at the Monterey Conference Center was the good kind of loud from show open to close. Kudos to PMA and exhibitors for great pre-show marketing!
- The familiar melody of “Happy Birthday To You” was joyfully sung (a few times!) in the bustling aisles, as birthday girl, Marci Allen, was serenaded by several industry friends, including Eric Nieman of Produce Business.
- Based in Dallas and largely raised in the south, the DMA team more than appreciated the aroma of fried tomato sammies that welcomed us to the Wholesum Harvest booth. We believe that this unique spin on tomatoes-as-entrée probably had broad appeal beyond the southerners in attendance, but they especially made our hearts (and noses) sing.
- A lot goes into site selection for events and often times it’s the little things that provide that pretty red ribbon atop the package. Case in point – the smell of salt water taffy wafting across the Monterey wharf did its job and got us to wander into the Candyland board game brought to life. Sure, these candies are not so fresh, but so what? With flavors inspired by our industry’s products, a little indulgence every now and then isn’t bad – and was just another detail that added to our complete Foodservice experience.
- This sense seems a no-brainer when you consider all the tasty products that our industry grows. However, many exhibitors don’t rest on the laurels of their delicious, fresh products and step it up a notch with custom, chef-created recipes and samples.
- Gills Onions’ Mediterranean Summer Salad was like a vacation in our mouths and would make a gorgeous addition to any plate!
- Speaking of chef-created dishes, we were able to sneak from booth set-up on the show floor and attend the Chef Demonstration sponsored by B&W Quality Growers, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, I Love Produce, The Mushroom Council, Ocean Mist Farms and RPE, Inc. They created kid-friendly fare that was equally appealing and delicious to the adults in attendance. Our favorites? The Swappable Mushroom Meat Ttacos by Chef Doug Goettsch of The Mushroom Council and the truly-designed-for-kids Dandy BBQ Chicken Porkie Pine Stix by Duda.
- Who says cones are just for ice cream?? Mann Packing served up their delicious Arcadian Harvest Sundae Salad in these crispy vessels which resulted in both a terrific taste AND texture experience. And speaking of texture….
- Handshakes are very en vogue and never more appreciated than on a busy tradeshow floor. It’s not easy to catch the attention of show floor passersby and a booth alone rarely does the job by itself. It takes engaging booth workers to draw attendees in and then quickly and eloquently get down to the business of telling their stories. We were so impressed by so many exhibitors who brought their A-games and effectively followed up those handshakes with easy, yet informational, conversation – like Ben Wilson of Coastline Produce and Mark Zachanowich of Peak of the Market.
- It’s no secret that there’s lots of business done on the golf course. But you don’t have to play 18 holes to make some great connections. A venue with a putting green was certainly a nice “touch” by the River Point Farms folks at their cocktail reception. We were able to get in some putting practice with Dino Del Nano of Whataburger and shared our consumer viewpoints while learning some very interesting trivia about the Texas-based burger joint. We’ll report back once we determine if all that practice helped.
PMA works hard to foster this atmosphere at the Foodservice Conference and backs up their efforts by awarding the Sensory Experience Award to an exhibitor that even further enhances the attendee encounter. Congratulations to this year’s winner, the California Avocado Commission – we’re bummed we missed out on the award-winning shrimp tacos!
Last but not least, a few tips from a marketing perspective that could improve future events:
- Is it time for a bigger venue? Sure, history and the familiarity and great customer care by the Monterey service providers are so important to the success of this event. But accommodating for growth can also be a good thing. With jam-packed exhibit space and crowded aisles, this is certainly something to consider.
- We managed the set up for several booths across the show floor and noticed a common theme. The cleaning crew wasn’t up to par this year as we were scrambling to pick up trash and vacuum our clients’ booths as the show opened. We’ll certainly be passing along this info to GES, as well.
- Lanyard malfunction! We always appreciate that lanyards are provided so that we don’t have to pin through our custom logo’d shirts and know that companies shell out substantial cash for this premium sponsorship. The lanyards that were sourced for this event, however, needed an extra bit of “clamp power” as dropped badges were a common sight.
- Don’t get us wrong, none of these overshadowed all the great energy that we felt throughout Foodservice. And, on top of that, we were blown away by the consistently helpful and chipper Ms. Eboni Wall!
Posted by: The DMA Solutions Team
Tags: All Five Bases Covered, B&W Quality Growers, California Avocado Commission, Coastline Produce, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Gill's Onions, Growers Express, I Love Produce, Inc., Mann Packing, Monterey, Ocean Mist Farms, Peak of the Market, PMA Foodservice, RPE, sights, smells, sounds, tastes, The Mushroom Council, touches, tradeshows, USA Pears, Whataburger, Wholesum Harvest