Education at NATSO Connect

Friday, Feb. 7, 2020


H.R. Sharegroup
NATSO’s H.R. sharegroup brings together H.R. professionals throughout the truckstop and travel plaza industry to learn from their shared experiences and prepare for the future.The Sharegroup is open to any NATSO member that works on H.R. issues. Facilitated by H.R. experts, NATSO’s H.R. Sharegroup involves both tax and H.R. policy and political updates regarding how the latest developments in Washington, D.C., will affect day-to-day business operations, as well as an opportunity to network and engage with other professionals.

There is an additional fee of $598 for participation in the H.R. Sharegroup.


Travel Center Profit Driver Study Tour
Led by NATSO’s Travel Center Profit Driver experts Don Quinn and Darren Schulte, this year’s study tour will provide NATSO members with an opportunity to tour best-in-class retail locations and network with other truckstop and travel plaza operators while learning from these two travel center powerhouses! 

The tour will visit:

SOLD OUT!  Please note new departure time. Contact Amy Toner at to get on the waitlist. There is an additional fee of $30 to reseve a seat to participate in the study tour. Registered attendees should meet to depart for the bus in the main hotel lobby.​


Renewable Fuels Master Class
Speakers: Jeff Hove, Alternative Fuels Council, Ginger Laidlaw, Alternative Fuels Council, Oscar Garza, Oscar L. Garza & Associates
Slides: Download a copy of the presentation here.
On Friday morning, the Alternative Fuels Council is offering an in-depth workshop on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits and the IRS Biodiesel Tax Credit. The workshop will be offered by renewable fuels experts Jeff Hove and Ginger Laidlaw of NATSO’s Alternative Fuels Council. The workshop will focus on blending and selling renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.

The master class will kick off with a RFS overview that features detailed information on the purpose of the RFS, who the players are and how renewable fuel blenders can benefit from the standard as well as RIN credits. It will also cover how RIN credits are reported, audited and traded.

Following the RFS and RIN credit overview, the Alternative Fuels Council will provide a detailed explanation of the $1.00 gallon biodiesel tax credit (BTC). During this portion, Oscar Garza, Oscar L. Garza & Associates, will lead the discussion on best practices for handling your B100 versus B99 and filing for the BTC.

After discussing the two primary renewable fuel incentives, Jeff Hove will provide examples of how these credits and incentives can be used to significantly improve your fuel margins.

At the end of the workshop, attendees will be provided a look into the Alternative Fuels Council’s software application that manages these incentives. This application, combined with the Alternative Fuels Council staff, brings RIN credits directly to you. Staff will show how they manage RIN reporting and auditing for your company.


How Truckstops and Travel Centers Can Remain Relevant Within a Rapidly Changing Retail Environment: Opening Kickoff Keynote
Slides: Download a copy of the presentation here.
Speaker: Patrik Jacob, Koru-Development; Delia Moon Meier, NATSO Chairman

After a warm welcome from NATSO Chairman Delia Moon Meier and NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings, we’ll hear from retail industry expert Patrik Jacob of Koru-Development.

The retail industry has experienced significant change over the past decade, and the pace of change continues to increase. To remain relevant, retailers have to create an engaging experience, and during NATSO Connect 2020, retail industry expert Patrik Jacob of Koru-Development will dig into how those within the truckstop and travel center industry can benefit from the fundamental changes taking place in retail. During the session, Jacob will cover the major trends that will affect the truckstop industry long term, how to survive the decade of disruption in retail, and why the success factors of the past are losing relevance. He will also explain which customer experience element will stay the most critical success factor and why truckstop and travel plaza operators should expect the biggest competition to come from outside of the industry.


Great Ideas! Workshop
Do you have a great idea that has helped your business? Wouldn’t you like to hear the great ideas your peers have implemented? The Great Ideas! Workshop provides a forum for independent operators to learn what is working for their peers, hear presentations from industry experts and rejuvenate their creative juices!

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020


How are Government Decisions Today Shaping Your Tomorrow?: Keynote and Breakfast on the Show Floor
Speaker: David Fialkov, NATSO
David Fialkov, NATSO’s vice president of government affairs and legislative and regulatory counsel, offers his take on what the political landscape in 2020 will mean for the business community and travel centers in particular. Having represented fuel retailers and the convenience store industry in Washington, D.C., for almost ten years, Fialkov brings an understanding of not only the business environment and legal issues confronting travel plazas, but also a sharp grasp of federal policymakers’ political and policy agendas.

Fialkov will discuss the national political environment as well as take a “deep dive” on some of the key issues relevant to the travel plaza industry that will be on the table in 2020. Attendees will learn the inside-the-beltway scoop on some of the biggest government affairs issues facing NATSO members. Plan to attend and learn how operators and vendors can work together to advance our shared advocacy goals.


Trailblazers Keynote
Speakers: Ernie Harker, Ernburn Brands; Craig Bujarsky and Peter Pilalas, Petro Canada; Sean Momin, Pat's Travel Center
Petro Canada Slides: Download a copy of the presentation here. 
Pat's Travel Center Slides: Download a copy of the presentation here. 
It is a disruptive time in the fuel business, but the NATSO membership is full of truckstops and travel centers who are employing strategies to propel their business into the future. During these mid-morning keynotes, you will hear from two NATSO members on what they do best. From shop repair to food service, you’ll get an inside look at the techniques these trailblazers use to excel.


Digitizing the Customer Journey for a Seamless, Engaging Experience: Keynote and Lunch on the Show Floor
Speakers: Herb Hargraves, Clark Oil, Michael Lawshe, Paragon Solutions; Lisa Mullings, NATSO; Sarah Prorok, Thorntons
Today customers are interacting with retailers before they arrive. They are downloading your app, placing their order, reading from other customers about
your offerings, joining the loyalty program and so much more. Paragon Solutions CEO Michael Lawshe, and Thornton's Director of Marketing Program

Management Sarah Prorok, will discuss the heart of the concept with NATSO President Lisa Mullings so you can engage seamlessly with your customers. During the session, the panel will cover why it's important to be present in both digital and brick-and-mortar touchpoints and how you can be everywhere your customers look.The panel will discuss how to connect digitally with shoppers to convert them into loyal customers.


The When, What Equipment and How Much of Electric Vehicle Charging: Learning Lab
Speaker: Steve Herlick, ChargePoint
Crest 4

There are more than 1 million electric cars on roads across the United States, and almost every vehicle manufacturer has plans to electrify a large part of their fleets, investing billions in new technologies over the coming years. What will the market look like in five years? What grant money is available? What type and mix of charging equipment makes the most sense for truckstops and travel centers? In this learning lab, attendees can expect to walk away with answers to these questions and more to be prepared for this growing fuel. 


Unboring: How Branding Guides Remarkable Customer Experiences: Learning Lab
Speaker: Ernie Harker, Ernburn Brands
Crest 5

Despite the success of e-commerce and delivery concepts, brick-and-mortar retail is not dying but boring brick-and-mortar retail is. In today’s retail environment, it is more important than ever for truckstop and travel center operators to determine what makes their brand unique and how they can capitalize on that irreplaceable aspect of their business to create a remarkable customer experience. Branding expert Ernie Harker with Ernburn Brands is bringing his knowledge as executive director of marketing for Maverik to help walk attendees through the branding techniques they used to create their own raving fans. In this learning lab, Harker will walk attendees through some of the big and small brand touches that will create an experience. What do customers feel as they enter and navigate your store? Harker will share some ideas to take back and implement right away to help your customers feel the way you want them to. 


NATSO Government Affairs Committee
Every year at NATSO Connect, NATSO's Government Affairs Committee has a strategic planning meeting to assess the major political and public policy issues confronting the travel center industry in the near, medium, and long term. Open to everyone.


Hear from the PR Pros: How to Proactively Handle Negative Feedback Online: Learning Lab
Panelists: Kate Bentley, Wendy's, Olivia Young, Navajo
Moderator: Dan Ronan, Associate News Editor, Transport Topics; Anchor, Sirius XM, Road Dog Trucking​
Crest 4

Whether you check your truckstop’s online reviews daily or haven’t claimed your Google Business listing, you can be sure potential customers are reading what others are saying about you online. Nearly 80% of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they make a purchase or visit a business, and that number is growing. In short, positive reviews are a powerful way to drive customers to your truckstop but negative reviews can have the opposite effect. If someone slams you online, how should you respond? A panel of P.R. professionals from within the industry will walk the audience through how to respond.


Frictionless Payments: Why, How and What Your Truckstop Should be Doing: Learning Lab
Slides available by request. Contact Amy Toner at
Speaker: Karen Dyer, Gilbarco
Crest 5

The use of kiosk ordering and self-checkout lanes, which are often referred to as frictionless payments, has increased, and the public is getting used to using them everywhere from grocery stores to movie theaters and restaurants. For trucsktops and travel centers, self-service technology can increase speed-of-service, allow them to reassign labor and improve order accuracy. What’s more, today’s customers expect convenience, personalization, speed, efficiency, empowerment and seamlessness, which can be a tall order to fill. In this learning lab, attendees will learn about the technology, from the trends to the technology options to the impact on labor and customer experience.

4:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Grow Your Bottomline and Customer Connections with a Loyalty Program
Speakers: Mike Broyles, Points 2 Partners; Chuck White, DAS Distributors
Slides: Download a copy of the presentation here.
Crest 4
Today, creating a direct relationship with customers to foster a connection is critical to retail success. But what types of rewards resonate best with customers? How should you structure your rewards so they don’t take away from the bottom line? How can you work with your brand partners to offer the right rewards.This Learning Lab will provide answers on these questions and more.

4:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. What Behavioral Economics Tells Us About Selling to Retail Customers
Speaker: Arjun Chakravarti, GES
Crest 5

Retailers spend a majority of their time and resources thinking about what to sell, not necessarily how to sell it. However, the social science known as “behavioral economics” shows us that how a product is presented to consumers is often the most powerful driver in a purchase decision. Research by Gallup shows that companies that apply the principles of behavioral economics to their overall marketing strategy outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin.  GES Senior Vice President Arjun Chakravarti will share how behavioral economics can be used to create experiences that increase your sales.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020


Plan for Tomorrow’s Truck Engines and Trucking Economy at NATSO Connect: Breakfast and Keynote on the Show Floor
Speaker: Bob Costello, American Trucking Associations;  John Farrell, PhD, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Center Stage
Slides: Download a copy of Bob Costello’s presentation here.
Slides: Download a copy of John Farrell’s presentation here.
Bob Costello, senior vice president and chief economist at the American Trucking Associations, is back by popular demand to provide insight into the latest on the future of the trucking industry at NATSO Connect. Costello will discuss the economic factors that will influence the trucking industry throughout the coming year and how it will affect truckstop and travel center operators.

Then, John Farrell, PhD, laboratory program manager for vehicle technologies at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will discuss promising new combustion and fuel technologies. According to Farrell, the internal combustion engine is not dead and is not likely to die in the near future. However, research continues to find ways to improve its efficiency and deliver a better value for consumers. Farrell oversees NREL’s cross-cutting research in the sustainable transportation arena. From electric vehicles to e-fuels, he has a pulse on the future and will make sure attendees walk away with latest research on vehicle technologies.


Trailblazers Keynote
It is a disruptive time in the fuel business, but the NATSO membership is full of truckstops and travel centers who are employing strategies to propel their business into the future. During these 30-minute keynotes, you will hear from two NATSO members on what they do best. From shop repair to food service, you’ll get an inside look at the techniques these trailblazers use to excel.


Surviving Isn’t Thriving: Strategies for Tackling Changes in the Talent Landscape: Keynote and Lunch on the Show Floor
Speaker: Human Resources Expert Annamarie Mann
Slides available by request. Contact Amy Toner at

In a high-turnover industry, attracting and retaining employees is paramount to being successful.  And if we’re honest, it can feel like an endless, uphill battle. We don't have to look far to see how the workplace is changing. Recent changes in how employees approach work and life are creating opportunities to shift the way we manage future, current, and departing employees.  Why should you form a well-defined employer brand? How do employees seek employers today? How do you create employee ambassadors?  Join human resources expert Annamarie Mann as she shares answers to these questions and invites you to create the conditions necessary for people to thrive, leaders to lead, and organizations to succeed in the face of disruptive change.