EP together with Bird & Bird, hosted a thought provoking conference with over 180 guests from the worlds of hotels, food service and restaurants who came together to discuss some of the major changes and challenges that are taking place.
The centre pieces of the day were led by Chris Garside, MD of Compass UK and Ireland, and Gareth Banner, MD of The Ned, who despite running very different businesses shared many similar themes which included:
- An evolution of services that really meet the needs of a new generation and new thinking in lifestyle, values, food styles and diets. Both talked about embracing all levels of society and people
- There is a greater generousity in approach within business and a broader approach.
- Thinking is changing and becoming more progressive
- There is greater responsibility – both socially and in sustainability – emerging
- Food and beverage does today sit as a central feature in bringing people together and also in improving productivity at work
- Food service, hotels and restaurants have a genuine opportunity to play key leadership roles in communities and beyond
- AI is becoming ever more important and there is a need to look at how it can improve understanding of the customer through greater data and information.
Other key messages that came through during the day included:
- How food & beverage plays a key role in mental health was a consistent theme throughout the day and how companies are learning just how they play a bigger role in this area through AI and technology
- AI and technology is becoming more personalised and playing a highly impactful role in engaging customers
- Service too is growing in importance and we need to see a marriage of AI with the best of old fashioned hospitality in terms of personal contact.
- There are more niche diets emerging that are becoming main stream, led by veganism which is set to ever more influential
- Revenues can be increased and improved by hotels, restaurants and food service operations playing a key role in supporting communities and social networks. The argument was that F&B is one of the very few things that does bring people together and there is a genuine golden opportunity for the industry to play a leading role if it is able to grasp it.
- By 2050, 80% of all foods will be consumed within cities and for every £1 spent on food, the cost is double in the cost of healthcare, environment and economic costs. There are major programmes in play seeking to create stronger processes to support sustainability and the food system.
- Food and beverage is on the verge of enjoying a new golden era with new food styles emerging from across the world. All sectors of the industry are responding and embracing new ideas, concepts and food innovation as food itself almost creates its own tribes in a way that has never happened before.