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Not as easy as it looks…

Ever wonder what it takes to put on an event like the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo?
For starters, we have to book a city and convention center about 10 years from the date of the event due to the requirements of the meeting. When choosing a location, we have to consider things like the size of the convention center, the number and size of meeting rooms in the convention center and the headquarters hotel, the number of available hotel rooms, the distance of hotels to the convention center, city and state union/labor rules and laws, accessibility from other parts of the world, general appeal of the location, and how willing the city, center and hotels are to work with us.

With a meeting as large as ours (one of the 100 largest tradeshows in the country), there are many challenges to overcome, but cities are usually excited to host IFT since the event typically brings in more than $30 million dollars in economic benefits.

IFT Food Expo Floor Before

This year in New Orleans, we will be using 650,000 gross net square feet just on the Food Expo floor, and will use over 200,000 net square feet of space for exhibits. To accommodate the more than 300 meetings and events, we will also utilize 90 meeting rooms at the convention center and 40 meeting rooms at the headquarter hotel. In addition, we are using 35 hotels with 5,000 rooms on peak night and over 19,000 rooms throughout the entire event.

The IFT Scientific Program staff team oversees a program that consists of 110 educational sessions, 1,200 posters, and 1,500 presenters (with 300 speakers), as well as special programming such as pre-meeting Short Courses and additional pre- or post-meeting workshops. They work with more than 500 members to identify priorities, submit abstracts, review session proposals, and create additional educational programs.


On the expo floor, our event will receive over 2 million lbs. of freight and 1,852 packages, and use over 33,000 linear feet of carpet. That’s equivalent to more than 3 football fields! It takes 6½ days to go from an empty exhibit hall to the opening of the expo floor, with more than 900 companies and over 1,800 booths. When the event is over, believe it or not, it takes only a day and a half to tear it all down.

IFT Food Expo Floor

The time onsite is truly the highlight of the year for staff.  It is when we get the opportunity to meet with our members and our exhibitors, and to talk with people from around the world and from every part of the food industry. We hope that all our preparation provides you with a truly exceptional onsite experience that you cannot get anywhere else. If you see any of us in New Orleans (we’re the ones with the blue shirts and green badge holders), please be sure to say hello and let us know if there is anything we can do to enhance your time at the meeting. Enjoy our 2011 event and the beautiful city of New Orleans!


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