The Restaurant Show

Recognising innovation

The Restaurant Show has firmly cemented its reputation as the ultimate destination for the hospitality industry. Andrew Dann talks to The Restaurant Show’s Commercial Director, Elizabeth Duncan, about the success of the event’s 28th outing

With an established history and reputation for promoting innovation with the restaurant industry and associated markets, the 28th Restaurant Show was held at London’s venerable Olympia exhibition venue during the 3-5 October 2016. The Restaurant Show is a unique trade event that caters to both individuals and larger operations that own and work in restaurants, hotels, catering companies, cafes and leisure establishments across the UK. The 2016 Restaurant Show ran alongside three other events comprised of the Conscious Hospitality Show, which was first launched in 2015, and two brand new events, The Bar & Pub Show and Catering Equipment Expo. These events further extended the audience of The Restaurant Show, with more than 450 suppliers in attendance providing a fantastic opportunity for visitors to enrich their commercial opportunities.

“Conscious Hospitality Show was established to focus on specific conscious areas within the restaurant business, including sustainability, health and nutrition, responsible sourcing and business ethics. These were all areas where we had customers and exhibitors that wanted to be present at the show and who also felt that they could better showcase themselves and their products in a single location. The event enables restaurateurs or hoteliers to easily identify all of the solutions they need to run amore sustainable business,” Elizabethelaborates. “Conscious Hospitality Show was extremely well received during 2015 receiving a rating of nine out of ten from last year’s visitors and the event has continued to run and attract new businesses in 2016. During the same year we have also introduced The Bar & Pub Show and the Catering Equipment Expo.”

The Bar & Pub Show was held in the Olympia West Hall that joins through to the venue’s National Hall and the Central: Level One where all the other shows are held. This allowed the organisers of The Restaurant Show, William Reed, to expand on the natural synergy of the exhibition and its pub-focused Morning Advertiser magazine to cater to a broader cross-section of clients. “There was a lot of appetite within the industry from both visitors and exhibitors to have an event that looked specifically at the bar and pub market,” Elizabeth says. “There is naturally some crossover between bars and restaurants, but there are also clients including publicans and pub chains that want to perhaps visit The Bar & Pub Show first and the possibly go on to pick out elements within The Restaurant Show to further enhance their business. The Catering Equipment Expo is organised by Bunzl Lockhart, one of the catering industry’s largest distributors. When all of this came together we had a huge jump in the number of exhibitors from 300 in 2015 to 450 in a single year, which is massive for a show that already has an established history of growth.” She added: “Our visitor number also increased by 11 per cent in one year, so the show is showing really good growth overall.”

Emerging trends
Organising and managing the 2016 Restaurant Show has proven to be an impressive undertaking. The event was held across three halls and on twolevels, meaning that organisers had to successfully manage the flow of people around the event, while ensuring that attendees could fully appreciate the goals for the show’s combined events. With a long history of success and growth within the restaurant sector, one of the challenges in continuing to develop the show has been to build on what has gone on before. “Many of the people like the fact that The Restaurant Show is very clear on what it delivers and that it is a leading show that is renowned for all of the food and drink, preparation equipment, technology, tableware and services on top of the speakers and competitions that are featured. Visitors who come to the event know what to expect and our challenge is to continue to try to add something new without losing what we have achieved in the past 28 years. This will always primarily be The Restaurant Show and the new events are additional resources will benefit most of the companies that already visit the show, but new businesses that have more of a primary focus on bars and pubs for example, the opportunity to meet other industry representatives in hotels and other sectors,” Elizabeth reveals.

“Another challenge with a new show is that it is obviously unproven and I think that the reason we did so well in adding a new show in 2015 was that we already had a shared location and a supporting magazine. William Reed is a very trusted business that both exhibitors and attendees know will run the event properly, with more than 10,000 people coming through the door for the restaurant show,” she adds. “The Bar & Pub Show aims to add a further 3000-5000 guests to the overall event and we also communicate with over 50,000 bars and pubs weekly through our magazine and digitally. The advantage of this when developing the new show was that we already had a good understanding of our audience and it was just a case of investing time to ensure that they were aware of what we were doing to convince them to come and join us at Olympia.”

Across The Restaurant Show the event highlights emerging and established industry trends, while continuing to promote innovationthrough its Great New Idea awards.Within The Bar & Pub Show forexample, the exhibition had a dedicatedcraft beer section, which featured 13 craft beer brewers that each offered up to four different beers in tap and bottled options. This allowed relatively small businesses to reach out to meet representatives from the wider bar and pub sector while promoting their unique individual brands. Furthermore, across the show’s Great New Idea Awards the company Green’s, which manufactures gluten-free beer won in The Bar & Pub Show category, while the Danish furniture manufacturer Thors-Design was recognised in the Conscious Hospitality category. The overall winner of the ‘Best New Idea’ award in The Restaurant Show was Sous Vide Tools for its Control Freak Induction Hob.

With big ideas, new events and a continued celebration of innovation, The Restaurant Show 2016 has proven to be a huge success. While the future of face-to-face events may be less certain in other industry sectors, The Restaurant Show has again proven that it is as relevant today as it was 28 years ago. “Within the restaurant sector and throughout the event itself, innovation is what the industry is really interested in. Part of what makes the Restaurant Show so successful is that visitors can come and see, taste and touch the products on offer, which is extremely important to a customer that is potentially looking to invest thousands of pounds on product to take back to their business,” Elizabeth concludes. “Somebody asked me at the show what I thought is the future of face-to-face meetings and I replied that I believe that they are on the up-andup. Chefs and business owners want to touch, taste and communicate with their potential suppliers and we offer them a unique platform to do this. I think for our industry face-to-face events will not be hit in the way that other sectors already have been.”