The evolution of F&B has been brought to the front of minds this week, as the biggest names in hospitality met in Manchester to discuss the changes that need to be made to drive positive change in the industry.
Over 1,000 delegates attended the 20th Annual Hotel Conference, 15% of which represented some of the largest and most influential equity investors and hospitality funds from the industry. Across the insightful sessions hotel developers, investors, and owners discussed their optimism around the future of the industry, alongside their plans to navigate the tricky economic landscape in order to grow.
“A business that doesn’t grow goes backwards. Anything that doesn’t move forward, is by inertia going backwards” said Tom Ross CEO of Pig Hotels. A sentiment that underpinned the theme of the event this year ’Adapt to Thrive’, demonstrating a shift to a more solutions-focused approach to ensure a sustainable but robust industry for the future.
With the conference looking toward building a successful future, a key theme throughout the event was the power of experience, and how positive experiences for guests, appropriate to the hotel segment, have the ability to transform offerings and improve the bottom line. This was particularly apparent around F&B offerings in both restaurants and hotels.
Kateline Porritt of Egg Soldiers commented: “When you’re offering an experience, you have the opportunity to bring food to life in an entirely unique way”. This sentiment was echoed in discussions led by hotel experts who emphasised the importance of creating an experience, whether through the introduction of a considered F&B concept; improving the working environment through training and technological support or engaging the local community, to improve the chances of success.
In panel discussion Live, work, play: building whole hospitality experiences Philip Lassman of Accor said “hotels that consider locals as well as guests will reap the benefits.
“It’s about building a hotel for the local community, get the place pumping for when the out of town visitors are in your neighbourhood. They want to stay in vibrant places and if your lobbies are full and bars busy, then you’re going to attract those people.”
As well as keeping local communities close the importance for hoteliers to be aware of events within the local community from street festivals through to large arena events were discussed, Nick Russell, Director, IPW Ltd highlighted how there are numerous “opportunities to link up arenas and hotel experiences” in order to build a more immersive experience for guests and drive revenues, particularly within F&B.
The conference’s vision stage was honoured to welcome Greater Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, who discussed the role of hospitality in development, regeneration and growth of the city, explaining his plans to highlight the great employment opportunities available to the local community, and bringing in young talent from other areas.
“Manchester is the home of 24 hour party people, that is important in itself, in terms of the visitor economy, the money that it brings in, and the jobs that are sustained, by hosting bustling nightlife” said Burnham.
To enhance that experience there was a strong call for leadership training in the Work in Progress: Engage Your Workforce and Increase Productivity session in which the panel discussed the importance of developing leaders who are attuned to the industry’s unique characteristics and values is key to its continued success.
La Gavroche’s Chef Patron Michel Roux Jr, closed the conference reminding delegates that to move forward and thrive requires adaptability. “If it’s not working, change it and move on, you need to be nimble, fast and able to adapt quickly”.