The National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group (MEG) is gearing up for its annual fall conference October 17 to 19 at the W New Orleans. This year’s theme, “The Value Revolution – Building Brands in a MORE FOR LESS World,” hosted by the industry for the industry, brings together restaurant marketing executives from both independent eateries and some of the nation’s most recognized restaurant brands to discuss the challenges facing the industry, share ideas and strategies, and look at the trends currently driving the marketplace. The conference is open to individuals employed by a foodservice company and responsible for the development and implementation of overall marketing programs. Visit the National Restaurant Association website http://www.restaurant.org/education/studygroups/meg/ for registration and program information.
“With the overwhelming competition, it has become more challenging to drive restaurant traffic than ever before,” says MEG co-chair Eric Hughes, who serves as director of product brand marketing for International Dairy Queen. “Restaurants are burdened with having to serve excellent food at a reasonable value while appealing to a broad range of palates. But what is value? This conference will explore how restaurants define value and what approach is—or can be—used in this economic climate.”
Social media remains a hot topic among restaurant marketers as many evaluate the power of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Four Square, as well as daily deal sites, such as Living Social and Groupon. Other points of discussion include offering healthier, lower calorie options with the implementation of the federal menu-labeling regulations.
“Menu labeling, which affects chains with 20 or more units, has been an on-going dialogue for quite a while,” says MEG board member Jennifer Weerheim, vice president of marketing for Yard House Restaurants. “Posting calorie information can be daunting for both the restaurant operator and the guest. Restaurants have become proactive by offering snack-size portions, fat-free, and low-cal options, and shareable plates. Again, it all circles back to offering value without compromising quality or your core brand.”
The three-day event will address industry hot topics and trends. Registration includes most meals, evening cocktail receptions, access to all keynote addresses and seminars, and networking opportunities.
Members of the National Restaurant Association receive a substantial discount on registration.
Among the topics addressed include:
- Economic Insights to Fight the Value Revolution: Carlos Herrera, chief economist for Coca-Cola Refreshments Foodservice and On-Site, will examine the future of the industry from an economic perspective discussing the impact of the economy on consumers and its implications and opportunities for the restaurant industry in these challenging economic times.
- Multicultural Marketing and General Marketing Strategy Integration: Co-author of the groundbreaking book “Marketing to the New Majority,” Ola Mobolade, marketing director of Firefly Millward Brown, will discuss what the 2010 census data says about the marketplace and how marketers can develop integrated campaigns to reach culturally diverse consumers. Mobolade has been featured in Forbes, The Economist, and Advertising Age.
- Build Your Loyal Following: Dana Benfield knows loyalty as the director of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers’ Loyalty and Retention program. Benfield will share her expertise and secrets on how Red Robin implemented its loyalty program with key insights discovered and imagined along the way. Customer loyalty can be fickle in this value-driven marketplace, but Benfield will reveal how Red Robin cracked the code.
- The Value of Credibility and Confidence: Like the old adage says, "You get only one chance to make an impression." Cara Hale Alter, founder and president of SpeechSkills, will discuss the power of the “sub-textual” conversation and how interpersonal communication is not really about what is said, but rather what is heard. Hale Alter will share a bit about the criteria listeners use to rate trustworthiness, approachability, and competence.
- The Red Rubber Ball at Work: Kevin Carroll is a renaissance man who has worked as a globe-trotting language interpreter for the Air Force, a head trainer of the Philadelphia 76ers, and a culture of innovation for Nike where he turned creative ideas into reality. Carroll arrives with a simple yet profound message: Productive play has consequences, a specific outcome, and goals other than pure pleasure.
MEG’s annual fall conference gets underway with an opening night reception and dinner at the W New Orleans October 17 from 6 to 9 p.m.