Raquel Weiss Fusco
Hitting the Reset Button
Thoughts from the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management National Conference
Recently I attended the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management National Conference and, being part of the planning committee, I can certainly say COVID-19 has had a major impact on big industry conferences. There’s now a big comfy couch to view conference sessions, a therapy dog available for those stressful moments and my favorite co-worker was there – she’s less than 36” tall and still wears diapers! Obviously, the SHFM National Conference, like so many industry conferences, was 100 percent virtual this year.
First, I have to say, I loved “seeing” my friends and colleagues in the industry over the span of the conference. It honestly brightened my day and brought hope and excitement for the months to come … more on that later. I was also so impressed with the number of individuals that came together and gave their all to create a virtual National Conference experience. Those that planned, those that participated and those that attended for the first time, it would not have been the same without every single one of you. On behalf of SHFM, let me just take a second to say thank you!
Second, I want to note that as a result of the pandemic, the date of the conference changed. It was later than usual in the year and I found there was an upside – it felt like a reboot. I “left”, maybe shutdown is a better term to use this year, feeling like I’d taken a motivational booster for foodservice and hospitality. SHFM’s community came together to reflect on the good, bad and ugly of 2020; and more importantly, we were able to discuss what’s coming down the pike in 2021.
The organization, which includes vendors, designers, operators, chefs, and other professionals, really provides us with a platform to look at all facets of the industry and at what is happening around the country. You see, being part of one of the industries that has been hit hardest by the pandemic, has left us with no choice but to rethink how things are done. We know the pandemic has changed all of us and the way the foodservice and hospitality industry operates in the future. But I can say with so much certainty, that we’ve all weathered the storm and are ready to get back.
I know the team at elite|studio e has been busy brainstorming what the future of foodservice looks likes and it’s pretty incredible. From incorporating new technology and robotics to new safety protocols to a completely reimagined café experience, we’re ready to share it with you! With the year (finally) wrapping up, I’m hopeful that we all have visions of bigger and brighter things to share in 2021.
In full disclosure, I snagged the images on this page from SHFM's Instagram account. The one on the post page was taken during the Hunger Games. Each year, SHFM conference attendees come together to give back to the local community. Since this year's conference was slated to be in Maryland, all proceeds benefitted Food Rescue Baltimore.