The 2016 FCSI The Americas Conference on 14-16 April in Nashville, Tennessee, promises a wealth of insight and fun breakout sessions. Michael Jones checks out the program

There may be a number of cities in the US with the location and facilities capable of hosting an FCSI The Americas (TA) Conference, but not many of them could promise to be as entertaining as Nashville, Tennessee. Music City is all about entertainment.

Music seems to color nearly every aspect of life in Nashville, weaving a common thread through the social fabric of the city and its people. Today, it’s still considered the national center for music publishing, while live music can be heard thumping out of the scores of honky tonks that pepper the city’s streets.

And the sounds of Music City will make for a welcomed background playlist throughout much of the 2016 FCSI TA Conference. Taking place between 14-16 April 2016 and boasting a packed program with networking opportunities, educational sessions, and evening entertainment, the event already looks set to top previous FCSI TA conferences in Anaheim (2015) and Phoenix (2014).

“Nashville has become one of the hottest cites in the United States in the past few years,” says Wade Koehler CAE, executive director, FCSI The Americas. “Nashville has also become the ‘go to’ city for culinary experiences, while the TV show Nashville is filmed around the city, showcasing its many music venues.”

The FCSI TA Conference Planning Committee has, says Koehler, put together “a great educational slate for everyone” at the conference in April.

“This year will be the first time we divide the education into three different tracks. One track will focus on business operations, one track will focus on consulting experiences and best practices and the final track will focus on young emerging consultants,” says Koehler.

There, will be “something for everyone” at the conference, says Penny Price, director of member services, FCSI The Americas. “The three-track education session model that we are implementing allows us to bring information to the newest consultants, the veteran consultants, and the business owners. In addition to the outstanding education sessions, members will definitely benefit from spending a few days with their industry peers. FCSI’s motto ‘We share, we support, we inspire’ is never more relevant than during an FCSI conference,” she says.

This year’s conference will see even more professional members attending than in previous years, with spaces running out fast. “We are expecting total attendance to be higher than Phoenix in 2014, where we hosted more than 250 consultant and Allied members. With the appeal and accessibility of Nashville, we anticipate attendance numbers to be well over 300 in total and are hopeful that the number of consultant attendees will top 2014’s 125,” says Price.

According to Kimberly Kissel, director of education, FCSI The Americas, “attendees will have the opportunity to hear from other foodservice consultants as well as outside experts on everything from social media, bar design, mobile payments and remote ordering, to energy and water efficient equipment, employee compensation, working with service agents, and the pending commercial refrigeration legislation,” she says.

And there are also continuing professional development benefits to attending too. “Consultant Attendees can earn up to 11 Continuing Education Units for attending the Nashville Conference,” says Kissel.

“I really am excited about each and every session on the schedule, I think they will all be valuable,” she says. “That being said, I personally am looking forward to two sessions. The first, ‘Cocktails and Dreams’, goes through the ins and outs of bar design, beverage programs, and the impact on revenue and production by station. Rick Fogel from BarStarz will provide his perspective.

“The other session, ‘Successful at any size: the business of consulting’, with Kristin Sedej FCSI, Kathleen Seelye FFCSI (PP), and Christine Guyott FCSI, RD, will offer insight into how three different sized firms approached unique challenges and the successes they have each enjoyed,” says Kissel.

So, what does the planning team expect to be the highlight of the conference program? “There are a few sessions we are really excited about but I think our closing keynote from Jay Baer may have a message that hits close to home for a lot of our members,” says Koehler.

And the extra curricular activities and social events members can expect away from the program will offer plenty to keep them entertained. “There are so many highlights but the Country Music Hall of Fame is amazing and offers so much pop culture history,” says Koehler.

“You don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy this amazing museum. When you’re done, we will have plenty of food, drink and networking. The closing night will be at the famous Listening Room honky tonk in downtown Nashville. While we can’t disclose our entertainer yet, we are planning a big surprise. We have a few tricks up our sleeve,” he says.

“I am so excited about the evening events in Nashville,” says Price. “We love to throw a party. Attendees can expect that every networking event will capture the energy and essence of Nashville, highlighting delicious food, exciting entertainment, and a chance to reconnect with fellow FCSI members.”

Michael Jones


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