The Hotel & Catering Show returns to the Bournemouth BIC this week. Here are 5 things you need to know about an event that brings the southern catering community together under one roof in the name of business.
1. It is under new ownership
The Hotel & Catering Show has had its fair share of owners in recent years but its latest incumbent, Hale Events, is convinced it has the winning formula to make the event a smash hit. And given its track record of putting together specialist trade shows in the south west you wouldn’t doubt it.
“We are the third people that have run this show now in five years and therefore we have got work to do in terms of building confidence in the market, settling this show down and actually giving it a strong base to grow from again,” says managing director Mike Anderson.
“But it has got a fantastic history — it has been running for 60 odd years in Bournemouth and therefore it has a very strong and loyal following. Our goals are to work with the market, local universities, foodservice businesses and buyers and listen to what they want to see happen to this show in the future.”
Somerset-based Hale Events has been running trade shows in Cornwall and Devon for 25 years, and running hospitality shows for the past 10.
“It is a natural expansion for us to move further across the south coast, but still deliver a regional show,” comments Anderson. “As a business we believe in getting very deeply embedded into the market in which we work and we are working with a number of tourism organisations throughout the region. We have got a team who have been working in this market for the last decade, so we look forward to bringing some stability to the show,” he adds.
2. It is being expanded
It might be Hale Events’ first year running the show, but the company is certainly no stranger to the event. One of the first major changes it has made is to expand the footprint of the show.
“Our observation was that 2015 saw the show take place in one hall and we felt it was critical — and is critical — that the show goes back to two halls, and that will be the case this year,” explains Anderson. “It immediately gives it more space, more room and more opportunity for companies to take part.”
While key foodservice suppliers such as Hunt’s and Comax are booked in the food hall, Hale has taken the step of creating a dedicated zone for drink and liquid within the Solent hall, and that is where it claims to be seeing strong growth as well. The drink zone is organised in partnership with Nectar Imports and the UK Bartenders Guild, and is situated around a central feature mixology bar. Here mixologists will be working with a range of ingredients sourced at the show to deliver demos and workshops.
“It is the only show outside of the major cities that has got a drinks element, so the drinks side and drinks equipment is a massive opportunity for the future,” adds Anderson.
3. It is formatted to meet buyers’ expectations
Exhibition organisers have their work cut out to meet the expectations of visitors these days and Hale Events is well aware of the need to create a broad and interesting event that is more than just a trade show.
“What I am seeing personally, and what we as a business are seeing, is that it is increasingly challenging to give an event to people that they want to take time out of their business to go to and therefore it has to be more than just a display of product,” says Anderson. “It is no longer good enough to put out stands with products on and expect buyers to come and buy. So what we are doing, through the drinks hall, through the demonstration kitchen and through hospitality talks is giving people much more market knowledge and information.”
Ultimately, says Anderson, the aim is for visitors to feel they have got value from their attendance. “We want them to come away thinking, ‘not only did we get our orders sorted and make new contacts but we also learnt a little bit about marketing for our business, how we get higher up the Google rankings, we found drinks and ideas that we never imagined we would, and we were also able to pick up tips for our restaurant or our hotel or our pub that enabled us to add value to our menu’.”
4. It attracts a strong regional audience
Suppliers looking to increase the business they do in the south are unlikely to find another opportunity to meet so many local decision-makers in one place. Most delegates are based in Dorset or Hampshire.
“There is a smattering of people who choose to come from further afield, but the core audience will be from a one-and-a-half to maximum two-hour distance,” says Anderson. “Any further than that and you are into London, which is so well-served with events. What we want to do is create this event as something for the region so that it looks after the needs of customers from the south coast and the Isle of the Wight right up to the M4 corridor.”
5. Equipment is a key ingredient
With the likes of Airedale, Buzz Supplies, Qtos, SCC and Unox among the exhibitors, there will be plenty of catering equipment experts on hand to provide buyers with advice and outline some of the latest kitchen innovations available on the market.
Anderson says that the Cornwall and Devon shows it runs are early in the year and many operators get all their capital purchasing done then. Bournemouth is slightly different because it isn’t so seasonally dependent.
“It is much more of a year-round destination and a much bigger conurbation than anything we have got further west. For the equipment side, I would say how else can you get into a situation where you can compare suppliers? It gives the buyer the opportunity to come along and look at different companies, different pricing, different equipment, and compare and contrast under one roof.”
Event: The Hotel & Catering Show
Venue: Bournemouth BIC
Postcode: BH2 5BH
Date: Tues 8 March – Weds 9 March
Times: 10am – 5pm (4pm Weds)