The revitalised Hotelympia returned with a bang this week, with exhibitors and visitors alike praising the raft of format changes implemented by show organisers, Fresh Montgomery.
With a stunning new look, a host of new attractions, new four-day format and a new spring date in the diary, delegates were quick to heap plaudits on the show. Singled out for particular praise was the new, giant main hall featuring a purpose built entrance tunnel with sensory elements provided by some of the UK’s leading interior design companies. Once inside, visitors were treated to a warm hospitality welcome from Hotelympia’s team of specially trained ambassadors – the Show Makers – recruited from leading catering college, Westminster Kingsway, and on hand throughout the four days to offer advice on show attractions.
The dedicated central aisle was used to full effect, showcasing the jaw dropping Salon Display works of art and Innovation Awards finalists. Changes to the layout and the introduction of the Show Makers were implemented to enhance the visitor journey and improve footfall across the show.
The transformation saw every exhibitor housed under one roof for the first time in recent years, resulting in the UK’s biggest-ever hotbed of hospitality activity.
Major draws such as Tom Kerridge, Phil Howard, Tom Aikens and Sir Terence Conran, who lit up day one with his deferential acceptance of the Hotelympia Lifetime Achievement Award, provided truly magical moments, resulting in crowds that were, at times, ten-deep.
Onlookers were also spilling into the aisles and beyond during the unveiling of Hotelympia’s standard bearing Innovation Awards – the culmination of weeks of deliberation, which saw hundreds of new products whittled down to four main winners in the categories of Food & Drink, Catering Equipment, Design & Tabletop and Technology.
Brand new attractions such as the Buell Business Clinic helped hundreds of visitors with free practical business advice. In a show first, Hotelympia partnered with hospitality consultants and recruiters the Buell Group to offer specialist business mentoring across all four days of the show. The innovative feature covered topics across the board and proved popular with visitors looking to extend or improve their knowledge of the hospitality sector.
Craft Beer Takeover was buzzing with activity and brought together some of the UK’s best and most relevant small brewers in a forum where they could meet operators looking to take a slice of this burgeoning marketplace. Exhibitors in the section were deluged for the four days with Francis McKenzie, business development manager for Arran Brewery, reporting: “We’ve seen a phenomenal number of visitors to our stand providing us with a networking opportunity like no other. It’s been really beneficial seeing first-hand how our audience reacts to our products.”
Changes to Salon Culinaire, brought about by feedback from a dedicated chef panel – many of which are ex-Salon competitors – including Chris Galvin, Steve Munkley, Simon Hulstone, Cyrus Todiwala, Nick Vadis and new Salon Culinaire chef director, James Tanner – were also singled out for praise.
Improvements included a new online entry system, a clearer judging process, use of iPads for food photography to enable fuller and more constructive critique, a clearer focus on gross profit to mirror real life business scenarios and the introduction of a feedback corner where established judges will be on hand to offer guidance to competitors on how to improve future performances.
Toby Wand, managing director at Fresh Montgomery commented: “Thank you to every single visitor and exhibitor for making the revitalised event one of the most successful Hotelympia’s ever. Whenever we seek to implement any changes or devise new attractions it is always done in consultation with, and for the wider benefit of, the industry-at-large. The overwhelming reaction to the new elements meant that for four days the show existed on a wave of positivity – proof if proof were needed that it takes more than a tube strike to keep the hospitality industry down.”
The Next Big Event – Hotelympia’s glittering gala dinner, held in conjunction with The Springboard Charity – helped raise an incredible £83,000 in just one night.
The Brazilian-themed dinner, hosted by Sky Sports’ Rob Palmer, was held on the evening of Tuesday 29th April at ExCeL, and patronised by the great and good of the hospitality world. Leading footballers Ryan Giggs and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlaine were also in the audience, lending their support to a night of unprecedented generosity.
Toby adds: “The total raised is absolutely phenomenal, yet I am unsurprised as I know just how much this industry cares for its people. Thank you to Springboard CEO Anne Pierce for yet another expertly organised event – and thank you to everyone who donated; your generosity means the world to those who need it the most.”
Hotelympia Exhibitors Have Their Say
Food & Drink:
Jonathan Warwick, technical bakery manager, Bridor UK said of the show: “We felt as if we were in a real business atmosphere – we’ve had a fantastic show with lots of professional leads. Exhibiting at Hotelympia has given us a glimpse into the future of trade shows.”
Mark Young, director of Jamix UK said of the final day: “It’s been another amazing day, the quality of visitor has been second to none.”
Tim Bender, UK sales director, Hobart Warewashing: “Despite the tube strike and fear of drop in visitor numbers, we’ve had a great deal of interest in our new innovations, namely our latest launch, the FTPi. Having all exhibitors in one extended hall has also increased visitor numbers to our stand as those who wouldn’t have typically crossed over the boulevard to visit Catering Equipment have done so and potential leads have even been generated.”
Bath & Spa:
Aditya Singh, marketing head of first time exhibitors, Green Organic Clothing said of his experience: “We’ve generated more sales leads than expected here whilst also using the experience to learn a few things – we’ve seen a lot of our competitors here and have been able to take away key findings that will improve our business.”
Design & Tabletop:
Marja Fiander, Designer at Marja Fiander AB: “Hotelympia has provided me with the most fabulous opportunity – to put my rug on the Stage during the presentation for Sir Terence Conran’s Lifetime Achievement Award – many influential designers saw my product and as a result lead to a lot of promising conversations with potential buyers.”
Hotelympia will return in 2016, while sister event, The Hospitality Show, returns to Birmingham’s NEC in January 2015 (19th-21st). For further information contact Andrew Pantelli, head of sales on +44 (0) 207 886 3055