Ones to Watch: 12 Must-See Speakers at Night Club & Bar 2020

February 17, 2020

For 35 years, the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas has served as the annual gathering of America’s most influential bar, restaurant and beverage professionals. According to NCB show organizers, “as a rule of thumb … if you work at an on-premise establishment that sells spirits or beer, then you’ll benefit from attending.” That includes everyone from independent bar owners, to national chain operators, to the industry’s largest hospitality groups – and the beverage producers supplying them, of course.

With so much to see and do, including a sprawling expo hall with over 400 suppliers in 65 product categories, three days of education sessions, and insane Vegas-style nightlife and networking opportunities, it pays to have a game plan ready. Especially for deciding on which speakers to drop in on. Because unlike the common adage that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, you won’t want to leave behind the invaluable tips, tricks and insights that the experts at NC&B will be sharing at these sessions.

Below are our top picks for must-see educational sessions (over 70 in total). Spanning five tracks, these sessions cover: Operations, People & Staffing, Guest Experience, Food & Beverage and Marketing & Promotions. Seating is first-come, first-served, so you don’t have to register in advance, but you can conveniently add these sessions to your calendar by clicking on the links provided for each speaker.

Who: Damon Wayans, Jr. and Kris Jones – Founders Special Guest App

What: NxT Power Talk- Strategies on Live Entertainment

When:Tuesday, March 31 • 4:00pm – 4:50pm

Actor and comedian Damon Wayans Jr. has teamed up with serial entrepreneur and investor Kris Jones to develop an app that ‘democratizes the process of booking entertainment talent’ by making it easy (and affordable) to hire quality live entertainment that will keep your guests on-premise for longer. In this 50-min session they discuss the latest live entertainment strategies. 

Who: Naren Young, Creative Director at Dante 

What: Creating World-Class Guest Experience at the World’s Best Bar

When: Tuesday, March 31 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

Star mixologist Naren Young heads the bar at Dante, recently dubbed World’s Best Bar by more than 500 drink experts from around the globe. Quality craftsmanship aside, guest experience is what makes Dante NYC’s top destination bar. In this session, Young will discuss how focusing on guest experience influences other critical success factors, including: “viral marketing exposure, food & beverage acclaim, and staff buy-in”. Anyone and everyone in the bar and restaurant industry should catch this session.

Who: Nicoye Banks, Hospitality and Service Consultant  

What: Creating the Professional in an Industry of Gig-Seekers and How to Make the Guest Feel Like a Star

When: Wednesday, April 1 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

You might recognize Nicoye from Law & Order, and a few other high profile films and television series, but professional acting is just one of his talents and passions. Nicoye consults on behalf of the Invictus Hospitality team and has learned the hospitality industry from the bottom up at some of the nation’s top restaurants in positions ranging from Server, to Floor Captain, to Manager. In this session, he brings his unique perspective on one of the biggest challenges faced by managers in the hospitality industry: how to get staff not to treat their job as a temporary ‘gig’. Nicoye will show you how helping your staff pursue their passions creates a better experience for guests.

Nicoye Banks, Hospitality and Service Consultant cocktail

Who: Johnny Caldwell, Co-Founder, Cocktail Bandits 

What: Inclusivity Increases Profits

When: Wednesday, April 1 • 1:00pm – 1:50pm

Inclusivity is at the heart of several notable debates in the beverage industry (we’re looking at you, Big Beer). This important session led by Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves of The Cocktail Bandits looks at it through the lens of recruitment. Johnny highlights the value of actively hiring ‘minority employees to create a more vibrant and comprehensive bar environment’ that will also increase your guest counts. Lauded for their contribution to “advocacy for the food and beverage community from a feminine, urban perspective”, the Cocktail Bandits have  worked with brands from Red Bull, to Saveur Magazine to Toyota, to “transform the way people think about beverages.”

selfie topped cocktail bandits

Who: Justin Cross and Rob Hunder, Co-Founders of Earn Your Booze 

What: Earn Your Booze: Mix, Shake, and Stir the EYB Mindset into Your Business

When: Wednesday, April 1 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

In 2020, the Health and Wellness niche is officially entrenched in the modern consumer landscape – and alcoholic beverages are no exception. If you’re a drink or hospitality brand looking for help in catering to, or connecting with, the growing audience of consumers who value healthy moderation, these guys can show you how.  

Earn your buzz selfie

Who: Tobin Ellis, Owner of Hospitality Design & Consulting Firm, Bar Magic 

What:The Rise of the Robots: Where AI & the Hospitality Industry Collide

When:Tuesday, March 31 • 2:00pm – 2:50pm

Understanding which technologies to invest in for your business is more challenging in 2020 than at any other point in history. Tobin Ellis, innovation specialist and owner of the award-winning hospitality design and consulting firm Bar Magic, helps some of the biggest brands in hospitality tackle these challenges, and will walk you through the fascinating and not so far-off future of robot-driven operational automation.

Tobin Ellis selfie cocktail


Who: Jacob Halls, President of Craft Beverage Consultants Group

What:The New Normal in Drinking

When: Monday, March 30 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

Keeping up with today’s beverage trends can feel a little schizophrenic, as consumers break from long-held preferences and behaviors, including low category loyalty, and low and no alcohol drinks. In this session, Jacob Halls (aka: @bevindustrypro), will show you how to successfully evolve your F&B innovation to meet the needs of a changing market while maintaining your identity – and your sanity. 

The new normal drinking cocktail

Who: Aleya Harris, Business Strategist, The Social Media Pantry

What: Advanced Marketing: Building Your List to Personalize Your Message 

When:Wednesday, April 1 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

It may be advanced marketing, but it’s based on a simple premise: build and activate your email email list! In 2020, email marketing is far from dead and Aleya Harris wants to show you how to use it to take back control of your marketing messaging and reach. In this session, she’ll dive into communication strategies you can start using right away to attract your guests with personalization. 

selfie & message topped cocktails

Who: Dylan Holcomb – House mixologist for HotMixology on the Fusion network

What: Your Guide on Food and Beverage Features, LTOs, and Specials to Drive Demand

When:Tuesday, March 31 • 4:00pm – 4:50pm

Cocktail guru Dylan Holcomb of Hot Mixology joins a lineup of award-winning chefs who’ll show you how to avoid falling into the trap of underwhelming ‘specials’ and consistently create irresistible limited-time offers that build repeat business, increase traffic, and help you rise above the competition.

selfie topped cocktail

Who: Natalie Migliarini, Beautiful Booze 

What: Building Up Your Photo & Video Assets for Social Media

When:Monday, March 30 • 4:00pm – 4:50pm

Digital visibility for your business is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this session, Natalie Migliariani of Beautiful Booze draws on her specializations in cocktail styling, journalism, and social media consultation to walk you through her proven best practices for curation, creation, and influencer outreach.

Who: Jabin Troth, Licensed to Distill

What: Best Practices when Working with Social Media Influencers

When:Monday, March 30 • 3:00pm – 3:50pm

Jabin Troth is the founder and content director of Licensed to Distill, the world’s largest craft cocktail community with over a million fans. Few people have the guts to follow their passion. Fewer still manage to communicate that passion so authentically and effectively that people actually listen. Jabin makes it look easy with his natural aptitude for influence and entrepreneurship – but there’s a lot of hard earned know-how behind it. In this session he joins a panel of the industry’s top talent for social media influence who’ll share their best practices.

Who: Louie La Vella, President, La Vella Nightlife

What: Crush Your Events by Automating Your Social Ads

When:Tuesday, March 31 • 1:00pm – 1:50pm

Virality is difficult to engineer, but there are proven methods you can use to predict return on ad spend for your events. As a seasoned marketer for festivals, nightclubs and bars, Louis La Vella will show you “the exact three steps required to build a sustainable social media system that automates 90% of your work.” The best part? He’s used it to drive up to 10X ROI – and so can you.

print topped cocktails

If you’ve marked your calendar with some (or all) of these top speaking sessions, you’re already off to a great start. Don’t miss Ripples at booth 836 in the expo hall to learn how you can supercharge your coffee, beer, and spirits sales with bev-top media in 2020!


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