Hotelympia was presumably named to reference Mount Olympia, the highest mountain in Greece and the home of the Greek gods. It certainly felt like a big and powerful event in the hospitality space when we ventured there earlier this week.
From crockery, to live cooking demonstrations, from concept restaurant spaces to the latest in food and hospitality technology, this was a show not to be missed by those in the hotel – or restaurant – market.
Here we summarise some of our favourite moments from this year’s event.
The Ultimate Dining Experience
Sitting down to a discussion on the ultimate dining experience, we had no idea there would be a Blue Peter “here’s one we made earlier” moment – but that’s exactly what we got. Ben McCormack, SqaureMeal, was joined by Dave Rooney, LXA, to talk about the results of a 1,500 person consumer survey into their perfect restaurant. The results, we learned, had already been constructed on the show floor for people to view and experience themselves.
So, what is it that consumers want? Something domestic in design apparently (see this blog’s header image – taken at the show), akin to the appearance of a high-end home. Paper menus on tables, but not necessarily tablecloths. Instagrammable meals, but not outrageous dishes, just fantastic signature meals. Most important, the human experience. As was said, never underestimate the power of the individual in making a restaurant a success.
We couldn’t agree more – and we think that individual attention can be given whether a person is choosing to eat-in or order out.
Bound to Delivery
This talk was close to our heart. Hosted as a panel discussion it was made up of speakers from McDonalds Corporate, Bunzl Catering, Tahola, HMS and Moving Food. Between them, they dealt with topics including the challenge of working with third parties in terms of data collection, the considerations of managing a food delivery team and the packaging food should be delivered in.
Debating whether companies should work with a third party food ordering and delivery company, or launch their own branded technology, the following was said (and we paraphrase):
Each person and each business has to weigh it up to whether they can do third party or have their own means to market. Either can be fantastic but you have to go in with your eyes open..[for instance]…Deliveroo makes it an inequitable relationship for small businesses, if you don’t like what they’re doing they’ll tell you to leave.
McDonalds’ Phil Le-Brun went on to comment that in the near future he sees there being a plethora of innovation around voice, autonomous drones and cars. Soon we will be able to send our car to collect our food, no driver needed. How, he then questioned, will operators deal with an autonomous car in a drive through?
Tahola’s Simon Blackbourne concluded the topic saying that he believes we will see massive growth in the use of predictive analytics – using this operators will be able to work out exactly what will be happening next week or even next month. Many of Tahola’s own customers haven’t scratched the surface of this area yet, but he is confident they soon will.
Food tech changing the face of the industry
What a whirlwind of a talk this was! Given by Nadia El Hadery of YFood, it was a whistlestop tour of some of the brightest and most interesting food technologies hitting the market. We won’t list them all here for you now but we will be attending one of YFood’s monthly meetups if anyone reading this is interested.
To summarise, Nadia explored companies coming to the fore as a result of a heightened industry interest in sustainability and global urbanisation. Many of these companies, like ‘GrowUp’, an aquaponic technology business, focus on the way we bring food into our cities.
Ever heard of ‘Growing Underground’, a company farming beneath the busy streets of Clapham? Or ‘Provenance’ a platform that combines blockchain technology with IOT to create a transparent supply chain solution? The list of imaginative, useful – and sometimes wacky – business ventures went on, but the lasting feeling was that food tech is a healthy, and growing, business. There are a lot of challenges to solve within the industry and that is opening the door to entrepreneurs willing to take a punt at solving them.
Hotelympia and its sub-event, the Hospitality Tech Show, is one of the hottest events in the food industry calendar, and from our visit, it was easy to see why. Buzzing crowds, engaging stands and keynote discussions helped it earn its Olympic title this year.
Next week we’re off to HESCA – the Higher Education Smart Campus Association – in Cambridge. Co-exhibiting with our technology partner, Counter Solutions, we’ll also appear on a panel event on the second day of the show (How digital ordering & self service solutions are disrupting hospitality ePoS on campus). If you’re attending, drop us a line, it would be great to see some of you there.