FARE Conference 2012

Juan Martinez delivers some of his impressions from a recent industry gathering.

Although I realize that I left you hanging and owe you a few follow-up posts on the application of industrial engineering (IE) in foodservice, I wanted to take a bit of time to let you know of a very interesting conference I attended a couple of weeks ago: FARE-Foodservice at Retail Exchange. I promise you that I will follow up shortly with part two of the IE write up.

As the name would suggest, this is a gathering of concepts that offer foodservice but as a secondary means of business. In other words, their core business is not foodservice. The audience included convenience stores, groceries, drug stores, universities, hospitals, as well as other non-commercial concepts.

I was offered the opportunity to do a presentation on my favorite topic. You want to guess what it was? Yes, it was the application of IE to increased profits and enhance guest hospitality. I was encouraged to see the subject was well received, so much so, in fact, the event organizers moved the presentation to a larger room. (If you are interested in getting a copy of the presentation, just shoot me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

While the content of many sessions and the networking opportunities were good, one general session in particular struck a chord with me. The speaker suggested that in order to lead, you must be able to influence others and in order to influence others, you must be truly and legitimately interested in what they are saying. In contrast, many leaders try to appear interesting, thinking that is the way to get people to follow. Keep in mind that you are not a leader, unless you have people following you. Another point he touched on was to never let your own agenda get in the way of what your audience needs to hear. Perhaps we should send the latter two points to our government, although I think that a better message is "lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way."

During one of the panel discussions, a group shared their approaches to innovating within their brands. Specifically, a speaker from Courtyard by Marriott discussed how they transformed the hotel concept to truly provide a foodservice option for their travelers — something that goes beyond just a breakfast offering. If you have been to a recently remodeled Courtyard, the innovative transformation is clear.

Each day ended with FARE After-Dark, yet another opportunity to mingle and network, and let go. Perhaps some let go too much, but what happens in Chicago, stays in Chicago.

As I have previously stated, it is through conferences like FARE that you get to see and understand the beat of what is going on in the industry. This is one way to stay on your toes, understanding what others are doing to become more competitive and take a higher "share of stomach," in this very competitive environment. I suggest you consider attending next year. See you there!

Next week, I will continue my series on the application of IE.

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