Behind the curtain at Retail’s Big Show

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By the last of several busy days at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, the NRF staff was running on fumes: This year’s event broke attendance records, attracting 36,500 people. Before the adrenaline that fuels us throughout the show wore off, Retail Gets Real stole a few minutes to talk to a few of the people that make it possible, from the content on the stages to the attendee experience. It’s a lean team of about 100 NRF staffers who bring it all to life. So how do we do it? 

On this episode of Retail Gets Real, host Bill Thorne and co-host Ellen Davis chat with NRF’s Susan Newman, SVP of conferences, and Angela Elder, VP of event content and education, about the themes of this year’s show, how it all comes together and the ways we’re already planning to improve for next year.

Host Bill Thorne (left) with Susan Newman (middle) and Angela Elder (right)

Host Bill Thorne (left) with Susan Newman (middle) and Angela Elder (right)

There’s no doubt that the retail industry has been undergoing significant changes, which made NRF 2018’s “transformation” theme particularly relevant. Elder says it best: “You can’t think about physical without thinking about digital.” When planning for the show, Elder and Newman not only consider the physical event experience, but the digital experience for both the folks at home and on the floor.

“The Big Show provides us with a great story to tell,” Thorne says, and “a place to tell the story, with the people who can tell it most compellingly.” Presenters are not just talking about the products they sell or how they sell them, but the greater narrative of how their companies impact people’s lives and serve their communities. In times like these, it’s also about resiliency — both personally and organizationally, as leaders prepare their teams to be resilient in the face of disruption.

Listen to this episode to hear about the ways NRF’s annual convention is evolving with the transforming retail industry. For more great stories from NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, check out the official recap page.

Jen Overstreet is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.