From the Eyes of an FTA

April 13, 2022 | 906 Views

From the Eyes of an FTA

Cindy Childers

Training Consultant | Blaze Pizza

In my 28 years in the food service industry, I have been to many conferences. They have all been similar in some ways and different in others, but I have never been to a conference quite like the CHART #101 conference in Las Vegas this past March.

I was what they called an “FTA” or First Time Attendee. For some, this may have been their first time at a conference of any kind and for others it may have been their first time at a CHART conference, like me. Being a first-time attendee amongst a sea of established members can be overwhelming.

It is important to make first-timers feel at home because not only do you want them to have an exceptional experience, but you also want them to return to the next meeting. CHART checked both boxes for me.

CHART Las Vegas Welcome Reception

The app for the conference was a great tool and helped put my mind at ease because I always knew where I was supposed to be, and when.

I was encouraged to volunteer at the conference – and I did. I worked at the registration table for a bit, and I highly recommend this to any future FTAs. This provides the opportunity to interact with many conference attendees in a short period of time. I would realize later that, even though it was a short interaction, seeing those familiar faces throughout the conference helped me feel more comfortable approaching those people and starting a conversation – and you get a cool VOLUNTEER ribbon for your name tag!

The FTA meeting at the beginning of the conference was a great introduction. The conversation starters in this meeting helped strike up conversations without the process feeling embarrassing or forced. The tips on how to maximize my conference experience were helpful. At this meeting, I made connections that I built upon throughout the conference.

Marisa McLaughlin and Cindy Childers pose in a Las Vegas Casino

The sessions were engaging and informative. The presenters were highly qualified individuals that were serving a dual purpose: facilitating MY growth, as well as THEIR OWN by leading the session. I appreciated the smaller group approach. As newcomers, we are all just afraid of being judged or asking questions that come off as naïve.

What really made this conference stand out from others was how welcoming and accepting everyone was. I got a sense that everyone there wanted to help me learn, grow and be successful. This acceptance immediately put me at ease so that I could feel comfortable making connections to learn from and share with. It didn’t matter what title someone held, everyone was there for the same reason: to learn, connect, and grow.

The content of the conference was great and the people at the conference were even better. I feel like I made many contacts that can help me be a better me and who knows, maybe I have a thing or two to offer them. Thank you, CHART for a great first conference experience!

Marisa, Cindy, Monique, and Felicia do the can-can in Las Vegas

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Comments (1)

  1. Angela Beemer:
    Jul 21, 2022 at 05:35 PM

    Great suggestions. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am really excited to attend for the first time.