The Catering Forum was developed to provide operators in the industry with opportunities to network and learn. These opportunities are created in three ways: through one-to-one business meetings (attendees can select the delegates/suppliers they want to include in their personal itinerary of half-hour one-to-one meetings); a full conference programme (attendees can choose from keynote sessions, seminars, workshops and think tanks); and through networking (the seniority of the audience on board, the interactive format of the conference programme, the prescheduled meetings and focused environment are all elements that make the event excellent for networking).
This year Michael Hirst, adviser to the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors, is chairing the conference. He is a consultant at CB Richard Ellis Hotels and has experience of both the UK and international markets.
Keynote addresses will come from Professor Colin Pillinger, professor of planetary sciences and man behind the missing Beagle 2 Mars probe - he will give the closing address; Lucy Gallagher and Rosemary Pritchard from Catalyst Events, who will present a session called "The big picture"; and Steve Bee, head of pension strategy at Scottish Life, who will run a conference entitled "Pensions are like grapes".
In addition, many seminars will be taking place. "Legislation update", chaired by Forbes Mutch, Caterer's group editor, will explore changes in employment, disability and licensing legislation. "E-business - myth or magic?" will be chaired by Graham Dixon, director of Brammer Dixon and co-founder of Corporate Enhancement Services; while "Turn your good ideas into a great business" will be run by co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur, Mike Southon.
A seminar on "Brand transformation in a competitive market" will be held with Ian Rickwood, chief executive of Benjys; and Oliver Griffiths, of Corporate Responsibility Consulting, and Lorna Harrison, editor-in-chief of the Publican, will be running a session called "Smoking gun?" "Food safety management - without a pinch of salt!" will be chaired by Andrew Wadge, director of food safety policy at the Food Standards Agency.
David Latham, consultant at Negotiation Resource International, will be running a workshop called "Secrets of successful negotiation", while Linda Halliday, human resources director at Wilson Storey Halliday, will be looking at the crucial area of "Talent retention - a sound business proposition". Steve Simmance, managing director of the Simmance Partnership, will discuss "The employer of choice - discovering the purpose and value of being one".
Rosie Denison, from the Department of Health, will host a workshop called "Five a day is here to stay"; Tony Brammer, partner at Brammer Dixon, will discuss "Distribution - central or otherwise"; Bob Walton, vice-chairman of the Restaurant Association and owner of Trunkwell House, will be encouraging attendees to "Think outside the box"; and John Duffield, managing director of Just Deli, will ask "Who cares? You do".
Delegates can also look forward to a number of expert-led discussion groups, opportunities for one-to-one coaching - including advice on handling the press - and a restaurant masterclass moderated by Mike Southon. This year's Young Gun competition winners, Lucinda Bence and Joanne Coates, will also be on board.
Catering Forum 2004
Dates: 17-20 June.
Where: P&O's cruise liner Oriana, sailing from Southampton, typically to the Channel Islands.
Who: 400 delegates from the industry, 200 suppliers and 20 speakers, plus members of the press.
Format: delegates and suppliers select whom they wish to meet and which conference sessions to attend. Richmond Events' computerised appointment system then builds a personal itinerary for every participant.
Benefits: networking opportunities; a time-efficient way for suppliers to meet delegates; and an innovative conference programme offering practical solutions to real problems.
Cost: delegate attendance is free, but by invitation only. Supplier attendance is paid for, the cost of which depends on the category of package.
More information: www.cateringforum.com.