Tom Loughran, Vice President/Show Director, IRFSNY Show

Tom Loughran
Tom Loughran

For nearly 20 years of his career in trade shows, Tom Loughran has an insightful perspective on the coming changes for the food industry in New York as well as the rest of the country for 2018.

Surrounded by the culinary industry, Tom Loughran has noted the continual trends he’s observed as emerging for the current year and shares his wisdom for restaurants and foodservice professionals to harness the power of trade shows for greater business success.

What are people looking for in the food service sector?

Innovation is the number one hot topic in the food services industry today. Restaurant owners are constantly seeking better, more efficient ways to provide great service and top-notch quality menus. Food and labor costs are an on-going hot button.  Finding and retaining great team members is something that every organization is always looking to do. We are also expecting to see a shift towards healthier food options at the show.

IRFSNYAt the upcoming IRFSNY Show in NYC, it’s all about connecting.

Sourcing new products is what the show floor is all about. That’s the opportunity for buyers in the restaurant and food service industry to come look for vendors that they haven’t experienced and really touch, feel, see, and taste their products.

The show has always provided a launching pad for new trends and products.

The show aims to add value to the buyers in the industry by touching upon the key trends. Among the highlights this year, will be connecting potential buyers with Italian exhibitors from Cremona, bridging the gap and bringing a more global focus to the event while demonstrating the stringent standards upheld to create their finest exported ingredients. We’ve put these companies in a pavilion so that there will be a great opportunity to meet and network, as well as get educated on these Italian products.

How can the IRFSNY Show help new restaurants succeed?

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Starting a new restaurant is one of the most difficult endeavors anyone can embark upon. The IRFSNY Show aims to give new owners a place to start even from absolutely nothing where everything they need is in one place. Our goal is to enable our show attendees to connect with people who can give them the tools they need to build it from the ground up.

Our show floor will cover everything from the nuts and bolts to the stoves and food, and everything in between. It will have everything you could possibly want for a restaurant.  Making everything for the restaurant business accessible in one place with a bounty of resources that can help them put the whole thing together with a goal of improving their chances for success.

Many new restaurant owners fail within the first year or two of owning a restaurant. The key to survival is getting through the first three years. The goal of this show is to make starting up and starting out easier and reduce the rate of failure to impact the economy positively.

Why hasn’t technology replaced trade shows yet?

The Internet will never replace trade shows. Twenty years ago when the Internet first gained traction, it was estimated that trade shows would go the way of the dinosaur. That hasn’t happened, and it seems they’ve become an even more powerful source of resources for every industry.

The reason is people crave the interpersonal face-to-face interaction. You can learn so much more when you’re actually present and sitting with someone at their computer understanding their technology whether it be POS or some other type of software system versus doing it online or through any other type of video conferencing.

What is Loughran’s biggest piece of advice for those attending the show?

At our show, you have multiple vendors that you can connect with at once. You can compare and contrast and find a variety of affordable solutions for your business needs.

I have a simple suggestion on how to make the most of your show visit and to avoid being overwhelmed by the venue size and massive selection of vendors. Contact the companies ahead of time and actually set legitimate appointments so that when you go by their booth, someone is available to speak with you. Having a schedule will help you stay on track with every challenge that you’re trying to fulfill for your restaurant ensuring you’ll get the most from your experience at the show.