With so many exhibitors, seminars, competitions and demonstrations at Hotelympia 2012 it will be easy to find yourself overwhelmed. We explain how to get the best out of the event
A day at Hotelympia can be daunting. When faced with the 15,000sq m of London Excel, 700 exhibitors and a packed schedule that doesn't waste five minutes, the key is preparation. "Get organised before you go," says Jane Sunley, CEO of talent-retention specialists Learnpurple. "Check in advance who and what's going to be there and then plan your route - it'll save you time and ensure you're not going back on yourself."
Visit Hotelympia.com first and look at the schedule of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, cookery competitions and technology and hospitality seminars. Or, for those sporting smart-phones, download the Hotelympia app, says Peter Griffiths, director of Hotelympia's Salon Culinaire. "Make a list of all the exhibitors you want to see, as well as any must-see attractions such as the Salon Culinaire. Get the best from the show opening times - arrive early and break the day, perhaps with a lunch at La Parade des Chefs."
Arriving early and front-loading popular attractions is a wise move, says Xavier Rousset, co-owner of London's Texture restaurant. "The best is to do some work prior to the visit," he says. "Target very clearly what you are looking for and where they are located. Visit first what is on top of your priority list as it gets very busy and crowded later." (for more help see our panel of must visits).
Used wisely, a full day can prove hugely rewarding - although two days will perhaps ensure you don't miss any networking opportunity, and might even give you a chance to pop out and explore a nearby restaurant or two (see panel). Keen beans among you will want to remember a stack of business cards and a small notebook and pen for names and numbers at the Careers in Hospitality section, or perhaps even to jot down a recipe at the Stage.
The principle thing to remember is that the more you plan, the more you will get out of Hotelympia - the readiness is all.
HOTELYMPIA'S MUST VISITS
An audience with Fay Maschler
Tuesday 28 February, the Stage.
Hear the London Evening Standard's long-standing critic Fay Maschler discuss the pleasures and the pitfalls of over a quarter of a century in the job, plus use her experience as a restaurant consultant to discuss why some restaurants succeed and others fail.
Careers in Hospitality
A must for younger visitors. Take advantage of advice and opportunities from 17 of the country's biggest hospitality businesses such as Marriott Hotels and Resorts and multinational contract-caterers Sodexo.
Boasting a host of technology seminars, Hospa caters for everyone from social media virgins to the most prolific of Tweeters.
The Innovation Awards Featuring six finalists in each of the four categories - food and drink, catering equipment, interiors, and technology - the awards provide a platform for novel new product launches in the hospitality industry.
Watch some of the countries top chefs, including the likes of Francesco Mazzei, head chef at L'Anima in London, talk you through their recipes and techniques as they cook live.
FIVE RESTAURANTS NEAR HOTELYMPIA
Boisdale Canary Wharf This unashamedly carnivorous Scottish-themed restaurant may not leave you feeling particularly active should you head back to Hotelympia afterwards - especially if you round things off with a whisky or two - but there's no denying the quality of the meat-centric menu. Expect the likes of a classic rib-beef hamburger or roasted haggis with bashed neeps.
Gaucho 02 A 20-minute walk or two-minute taxi ride away, Gaucho is these days synonymous with relaxed working lunches. Pick from the line-up of top-notch Argentinian beef in sleek, glossy interiors based inside the 02 Arena.
The Gun Another short taxi ride away, Tom and Ed Martin bring their trademark swagger to the Gun, a first-class riverside gastropub that combines the humble roots and wholesome menu of a classic pub with first-rate style and cooking.
Jamie's Italian, Canary Wharf
A brief taxi or tube ride away, Jamie Oliver's chain may sit firmly in the casual-dining sector, but it's fun, good-value ethos comes backed up with very well sourced and executed Italian food.
Yi-Ban A smart Chinese popular with businessmen and Chinese families alike, Yi-Ban is located less than a mile from Excel. Relax with friends over classic dishes or head for the speciality seafood dishes such as Dover sole in black bean sauce.