IFA 2023 Convention Recap
As has been tradition for more than 15 years running, the Location3 team was once again proud to be supporting sponsors of the International Franchise Association’s annual convention. The 2023 edition was held in Las Vegas, Nevada from February 26th – March 1st, welcoming around 5,000 attendees from all corners of the franchising community to engage in live sessions, panel discussions, thought leadership roundtables and active conversations in the exhibit hall over a busy four-day agenda. This event, in our opinion, is the biggest and most impactful annual gathering in franchising. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and partners, and meet new people who are (dare we say) “ALL IN” for advancing the mission of the IFA and it’s supporting members like Location3. The 2023 convention agenda covered a wide range of themes within franchising that included franchise development, franchise owner needs, finance, marketing, operations, real estate and others. Our 11 team members in attendance were able to join a variety of different agenda sessions, and we gathered some of our top takeaways from the 2023 event that we’ll carry forward throughout the year:
- The hottest topic in 2023? Answer: Artificial Intelligence. One of the most well-attended sessions at this year’s convention focused on artificial intelligence and the accelerated use of ChatGPT, and had seats full, overflow guests packed in the back and a line of attendees out the door. And with good reason. While the use of artificial intelligence in franchise marketing is by no means new (hint: we’ve been leveraging AI for franchisor and franchisee marketing for years), the rapid rise of ChatGPT as well as Google’s launch of their own AI engine (Bard), had most attendees finding themselves discussing their perspective on AI and how it may or may not alter the franchising landscape. From use in chat bots, to media buying optimization, to operational planning for franchise owners, we expect a lot of active conversation to continue among this audience around practical uses for AI that can be leveraged today while considering what may also be possible in the not-too-distant future.
- Recession or no recession? Whether in marketing, supply chain operations, or franchise development circles, the conversations at convention around the current market conditions highlighted that many franchise brands are still feeling economic strain in one way or another. Whether individuals used the dreaded “R”-word or not, it’s clear that most brands and suppliers remained incredibly focused on bottom-line revenue and whether or not the economy will pick up steam in the coming months. We’ve shared our thoughts on this topic on the IFA blog as well, specifically around how franchisors can maximize marketing budgets during uncertain economic conditions.
- “We have lots of data, but we need help putting it into action”. While the hot topic this year was focused on AI, we remember several years ago when the topic du jour at a past convention revolved around “Big Data”. It’s clear that in recent years, some franchisor executives have taken big steps to shore up their data sets and break down barriers in measurement and reporting while many more still have significant challenges ahead in achieving the same goal. For those that are in possession of clean, quality data regarding their brand, their marketing, and their operations, a lot of the discussion at convention can be summed up in a single question; How do I use this data to take action? Turning good data into actionable insights that drive business outcomes is a complex journey, and it’s clear many brands are still struggling to gain efficiency in this area.
We also enjoyed talking to a lot of attendees about how they can better support their owners with local marketing and implement scalable technology solutions to fulfill those needs. We spoke with others about how marketing and operations need to be more cohesive and how these two departments live separate from one another too often. We also found some time for good partner dinners, a few laughs, and a lot of hugs with familiar faces from this wonderful world that is franchising. We captured a few of those moments below to remember the 2023 convention highlights with our team. Thank you, as always, to the IFA for hosting another fantastic annual convention. If you attended this year as well, we’d love to hear your own perspective and takeaways in the comments below! We’ll see everyone in Phoenix, AZ (if not sooner) for the 2024 edition!
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