There will be plenty to see at next week's Hotelympia show, with hundreds of exhibitors, numerous seminars and stunning live displays. To help you sort the best from the rest, The Caterer has compiled 12 things you can't afford to miss
Women in Hospitality Day
Thursday 8 March
Hotelympia is to launch a Women in Hospitality Day at this year's show, with a programme celebrating female talent and furthering the conversation on women in the industry.
The day will celebrate successes, look at challenges and focus on opportunities for women in hospitality, showcasing both female and male champions and giving visitors the perfect opportunity to connect with and learn from industry leaders. Top of mind will also be the invaluable contribution made by female hospitality entrepreneurs alongside up-and-coming stars at the helm of some of the UK's most exciting start-ups.
The business intelligence panel
Monday 5 March 11:20-11:50
Be sure to join The Caterer editor Chris Gamm and a panel including Gallivant owner Harry Cragoe, Hilton's director product management Jon Sharp and CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon, who will discuss the impact of data collection and statistical analysis on the trade. Are we entering a new era of 'surprise and delight', where guests' desires are effortlessly anticipated? Or will the tech backlash prompt more human interaction?
The ultimate dining experience
The show has polled more than 500 food and drink influencers to unveil the Ultimate Dining Experience - 2018's most comprehensive dive into the needs and trends of today's customers.
With the results now in, not only will visitors be able to claim their free copy of the full report at the show, Hotelympia is working with design, project management and development company LXA (Wagamama, BXR Gym, Grand Hyatt) to bring the results to life in a standalone feature restaurant, the intriguingly named Violet.
Some of the findings they will be exploring include the fact that diners placed 'cost' at a surprising fifth when asked to rank the most important factors when choosing a restaurant, with 'quality of food', 'service', 'atmosphere' and 'reputation' proving more popular considerations. Meanwhile, smart dress was almost 40% more popular than casual attire with diners where front of house staff were concerned.
La Parade des Chefs
Popular fine-dining challenge La Parade des Chefs returns with the special remit of helping the English, Welsh and Scottish national culinary teams prepare for the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg in November.
The exact criteria that the teams are required to work to will be replicated as far as possible in the La Parade des Chefs kitchens, providing the teams with a great opportunity to practise and perfect their dishes and teamwork. Each team will prepare a hot lunch for 100 covers each day, so it's wise to secure a seat early.
Hospitality trends for 2018
The Launchpad, Tuesday 6 March, 15:00
As well as being ever-present on stand 2820, The Caterer will be hosting a panel of experts from Compass Group to explore the trends hitting hospitality in 2018. As customers seek authentic experiences and brands that provide a point of difference, our panel will discuss how it's possible to personalise your offer and make sure you appeal to tomorrow's diners.
Head of insight Mark Davies, culinary director Nick Vadis and marketing director Louise Pilkington will debate the food trends likely to influence hospitality in 2018 and beyond, and explain how it's possible to tap into the spirit of the age and satisfy the rise of flexitarianism and a more ethical approach to eating.
Bound to delivery?
Tuesday 6th March 12:15-13:00
A bumper panel featuring Moving Food's Stephen Minall, Austen Bushrod from Bunzl Catering Supplies, Hospitality Management Solutions' Bruce Isaacs, Simon Blackbourne from Tahola and McDonald's corporation vice-president Phil Le-Brun will explore the growing delivery phenomenon. They will discuss the effect delivery has on a hospitality business, what the limitations are and what the costs are compared to the likely rewards.
The Professional Kitchen Show will feature a host of advances in kitchen equipment. Hobart Warewash will be demonstrating its new app on Stand 1350, which allows operators to control the functionality of multiple machines at the touch of a button. Meanwhile, on the Grande Cuisine stand 1440 the Mareno iChef is a fully touchscreen kitchen offering simple controls and energy savings of up to 40% with Power Guardian technology - an electric power surge control system that regulates electricity usage. And on Hoshizaki UK's stand (1630), its undercounter refrigeration unit is sure to raise the game, being capable of operating in ambient temperatures of up to 40Â°C.
Innovative start-ups are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry, with many concepts quickly making the jump from kerbside to bricks and mortar, often via the very modern means of crowdfunding.
The Launchpad will introduce visitors to some of the UK's most exciting new businesses and should prove a serious draw for buyers, the big beasts of finance and those looking to make the jump into their own dream start-up. The programme of 30-minute hustings will include Collectivfood, the socially conscious online platform that works with environmentally aware, independent producers; healthy kids' jelly snack Naturelly; gourmet food delivery service Supper; Feast It, the bookings and comparison site for the country's best street food caterers; and the creators of biologically accurate food expiry indicator Mimica, among many others.
Experience hundreds of innovative new products
The show floor will be a festival of innovation with hundreds of product launches expected. Highlights include the world's best Bloody Mary, a futuristic touchscreen kitchen, a pocket sommelier, the milk drink that aids sleep, a 'highly superior alternative to dried herbal teas' aimed squarely at millennials, a smartphone key for hotel doors, an all-in-one travel razor and a unique device that accelerates the decomposition of food waste without any additives or odours.
In addition, Winterhalter will launch its Connected Wash warewashers, Lincat will be unveiling the Phoenix induction oven range, and Welbilt will make its first appearance at the show since its rebranding from Manitowoc Foodservice last year. International Salon Culinaire International Salon Culinaire returns, bigger and better than ever, with new challenges and showcasing fresh talent. Student and professional chefs are set to do battle in more than 100 competitions, demonstrating their skills in the hope of following in the footsteps of many of today's leading UK chefs.
This new feature stage is designed to deliver solutions to some of the burning questions surrounding the industry. With content curated and hosted by captains of industry, Hospitality Futures is set to provide strategies and ideas for visitors to take back to their own places of work. Looming future trends such as Brexit, staff retention, guest experience, sustainability, the sugar tax, allergens and women in hospitality will be up for debate.
The Tech Innovation Stage in partnership with Hospa
The Tech Innovation Stage presents the perfect opportunity to stay up to date with the latest technology, with talks and panel discussions from digital innovators who will be setting the agenda for years to come. Topics such as innovations in mobile, social media, online reputation management, networking, point of sale, room technology and women's growing contribution to the sector will be up for discussion.
Meanwhile, Hospa chief executive Jane Pendlebury will introduce a futuristic forum on the rollercoaster relationship enjoyed between catering and technology on the Tech Innovation Stage on Monday 6 March at 11am.
The Big Event
Platinum Suite, ExCeLl, Monday 5 March
The opening evening of the show will hark back to 1930s London at Springboard's Big Event. The Platinum Suite will feature electro-swing music, Charleston-style dancers and an art deco theme, along with a lavish three-course meal and drinks. It's the perfect opportunity to wine and dine your potential customers and buyers and support Springboard in the process.
Prices are £160 for a single ticket or between £1,500 and £1,950 for a table. All proceeds will go towards Springboard's work supporting some of society's most vulnerable, providing them with training and job opportunities within the hospitality industry. To register your interest, visit www.springboard.uk.net/events/fundraising/the-big-event-2018
Hotelympia's ExCeL venue is part of a 100-acre campus - much of which you will cover during the show - so it's wise to be prepared. Here's our advice on how to get the best out of the event.
- If you can manage only one day, try and get there early and allocate a full day. Make sure you pre-register at www.hotelympia.com so you can slip past the queues.
- Mark out the stands you definitely want to see and go to those first. Once you've done that, you can relax, network and catch up - it's impossible to do the whole show.
- Booking lunch at La Parade des Chefs comes highly recommended, but exhibition-goers who can't get a restaurant table often survive on the many freebies given away on the stands. Nevertheless, it makes sense to pack a few snacks, a bottle of water and plenty of business cards: you never know whom you might meet.
- It's probably best to leave the high heels and brand-new pointy shoes at home in favour of something more comfortable.
- Don't pick up lots of pamphlets - get them sent to you. These days most exhibitors will either be able to send you information digitally or on a USB stick.
Where to eat
Fox@ExCel,Warehouse K, ExCeL Centre, 2 Western Gateway, London E16 1DR (020 7473 2288)
One of the few watering holes around the ExCeL centre, Fox is the place to go for a laid-back pint.
China Palace, Unit R1 Warehouse, 2 Western Gateway, London E16 1DR
(020 7474 0808)
This popular Chinese restaurant offers a selection of traditional dishes and dim sum in a stately warehouse.
Upper Deck restaurant and bar, Novotel London ExCeL, 7 Western Gateway,
London E16 1AA (020 7540 9700)
The Upper Deck in the four-star Novotel benefits from full-length windows and a welcoming ambience.
La Barrique wine bar and restaurant, Unit R5, Warehouse K, Western
Gateway E16 1DR (020 7474 8042)
Offering a selection of sandwiches and salads, this wine bar also serves a range of pizzas prepared in-house.
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