Restaurant Show 2024 Emerging Trends - Embark Marketing
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Emerging Trends from the National Restaurant Show 2024

Emerging Trends from the National Restaurant Show 2024

The National Restaurant Show 2024 held in Chicago from May 18th through 21st and brings together restaurant professionals, technology providers, and enthusiasts to showcase the latest trends, innovations, and products in the restaurant industry. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the emerging trends observed at the show that we feel restaurant owners should be aware of.

Restaurant AI

You may have already experienced a form of this at your local chain drive-thru when attempting to order. Like it or not, AI is here to stay. The general consensus of restaurant owners seems to trend toward not being big AI fans, but the technology present at the show gives us a glimpse into how AI can be used in harmony within the industry. 

Automations are making waves as well & are also using AI to improve the flow of service. One example at the Restaurant Show was an automatic dishwasher that could determine what dish was needed for the next order, sort them from the freshly washed dishware, & send them to the kitchen, ready for the next meal. The 15K price tag for this tech will place it out of reach for many, but it is exciting to see the next evolution of dinner service.

Several robots were also on display throughout the convention floor, making and serving drinks, and showcasing the latest in ordering and guest management technology. While both these technologies are in their preliminary stages, we think they will be an integral part of the restaurant landscape in the coming years. Be on the lookout for AI as a part of your restaurant POS system, marketing tools, & management software.

Customization of Restaurant Systems

In the same vein as utilizing AI, vendors seem to have realized the need for customization for their restaurant clients’ systems. Several systems that we have encountered over the years are all-in-one, meaning they have all of your bells and whistles for things such as email marketing, reputation management, customer journey, & online ordering. The problem? Many mom and pop operations simply cannot afford the monthly cost (hundreds of dollars per month) of such systems, especially when they are being nickel and dimed on every order they take or email they send out. 

The current trend at the Restaurant Show 2024 was the ability to integrate several systems based on the users’ specific needs. This allows operators who are currently using something such as Mailchimp for their email marketing to connect to their new POS. This eliminates the need for retraining & allows restaurant owners to utilize software they are already familiar with.  While this kind of integration technology is not new to the industry, it appears that more vendors are making it a focus. This is great news for many small business owners as it means less upfront cost and the ability to opt out of marketing aspects they may not be ready for. 

Food & Beverage Trends

Mocktails, THC-infused drinks, & herbal tea options with kava or kratom were heavily featured at this year’s National Restaurant Show 2024. This trend displays an interesting look into this generation’s preference for marijuana and other herbs for relaxation over alcoholic options. 

THC is also very trendy in food preparation with several new products coming to the market using the substance. A continuing trend over the past few years, plant-based products are still on the rise. Meat substitute products could be seen throughout the convention and surprisingly popular booths for samples. This highlights the overall industry trend toward more health conscious and sustainable options throughout the food and beverage market.

Eye-catching and unique snack foods found throughout the convention with global flavors, crunch galore, & vegetarian options once again making a strong showing. Vegan Bao Buns, Korean Hot Dogs, & a Lunchable vending machine all made for a flavor-filled adventure over the four day event.

What’s Next

We hope highlighting the latest trends from the National Restaurant Show 2024 inspires you to experiment with new flavors or take another look at how AI can assist you with operations. Embark Marketing will be attending this year’s Texas Restaurant Convention in San Antonio from July 13th through 14th. We can’t wait to see, taste, & experience all of the new innovations that the Lone Star State has to offer. Take a look at everything we experienced at last year’s event in Houston here.

Graphic for TRA Show 2024
Attend the Texas Restaurant Show for FREE

Want to attend this year’s TRA Convention for FREE? Click here to register and use our code EMBARK24 for free entry to the show. Visit us at booth #250 for some swag & a chance to win a Nespresso machine or chef knife set!