Hospitality Expo returns to the RDS on the 6th & 7th of February, and is set to be the largest trade show of 2018 with 6 seminars, 200 exhibitors and an expected 3000 visitors.

In researching this year’s event we uncovered the key challenges affecting hospitality businesses in 2018. It was from these themes and challenges that we developed the exhibition and seminars happening at the event to offer solutions and ideas to overcome them.

Attracting New Customers
With more options available to the customer, competition is set to rise in the sector. Customer acquisition is changing. This is coupled with a change in customer expectations and behaviour. Operators are now expected to be on social media, to have a digital booking system, and to have mobile payments in place, among other systems.

The keynote session at this year’s Hospitality Summit will be addressing this topic head on. Mark Nolan, Managing Director of Dromoland Castle, will discuss how to attract new and younger clients to an older, more traditional asset.

Staffing Retention and Recruitment
There is currently a shortage of senior kitchen staff on the market. This is putting a heightened pressure on staff retention and development in the hospitality sector. Headhunting and poaching of key staff is a major risk for restaurants and hotels, where recruitment is expensive and time consuming.

Sarah King, Academy Chef Trainer at the Harbour Hotels Group, will be addressing these challenges at the Hospitality Summit – outlining how to attract, recruit, retain and develop chefs. Similarly, the School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology, DIT, will be giving free business advice over two days, covering recruitment and staff retention.

Technology Disruption
Technology is having a disruptive affect on business models and customer engagement. Customers are now booking online or through apps. Payments are done through the tap of a smartphone. It can be a challenge to assess what technology to invest in. What are the choices? From payment systems, online booking systems, CRM to digital marketing, what is crucial? At this year’s Hospitality Expo there is a two-day Seminar dedicated to new technologies. There is also an extensive Technology Village featuring big tech brands and innovative start ups to provide insight into the solutions available.

Modernising Premises and Facilities
The design and fit out of a pub, hotel or restaurant has a direct affect on brand and customer perception. So how do you get it right?

Conal Harvey, Director at the Harcourt House Collection, will be speaking about “Theming the Titanic Hotel in Belfast” at the Hospitality Summit. This will be followed by leading architect Joe Kennedy, discussing ideas and concepts for hotel refurbishment. These high-level talks will be complimented by an extensive Design and Fit Out exhibition showcasing the products and services you need to transform your premises. The exhibition will also feature a Bridal Concept Suite, providing a visual roadmap to attract lucrative wedding business.

Assessing New Product
From craft beer to new artisan food, customer tastes and fads move quickly. Staying relevant and on curve is a challenge for hospitality businesses.

To address this, Hospitality Expo will feature a Food and Beverage Village and Brew Expo showcasing new products and innovations.

Registration is Now Open
The theme of this year’s event is Preparing the Hospitality Industry for the Next Generation of Customer. You can start by registering for free here: www.hospitalityexpo.ie/register.

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