Celebrating the best of hospitality in the South and South West, this year’s Hotel & Catering Show proved to be a resounding success with the organisers reporting an increase in visitor numbers from some of the region’s top hotels, restaurants, bar, café and catering businesses.

Playing host to 145 exhibiting companies, the show organisers were delighted having commissioned independent research to be carried out at the show. Hospitality customer research specialist Avius Insight reported almost 90% of visitors to this year’s show describing it as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their business offering and a massive 95% said they would attend again next year.  A record 80% of exhibitors also said they’d be back.

“What we saw over the last two days is a culmination of all that makes this region of the UK truly great when it comes to hospitality.  We are serving a growing, regional hospitality industry that’s hungry to stay ahead of the game and unique in its offering.  This year’s show demonstrates the results of a winning formula as we and continue to develop the event and tap into an even wider range of artisan producers and suppliers to bring out the best of the South and South West, combined with new show features and content.  Just wait and see what we have in store for 2016!” said Richard Joslin, Show Director of Hotel & Catering 2015.

Attracted by the show’s new features, notably including chef master classes, short seminars, wine tasting and bartending competitions, visitors gathered top quality tricks and tips to take back to their own restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels to improve sales and business performance.

Crowds gathered to see the line-up of top chef talent as they showcased their many skills including James Golding from The Pig Hotels, Gary Richmond from River Cottage Chef School, Russell Brown from the Michelin Star Sienna Restaurant, Daniel Moon from Ston Easton Park Hotel and Luke Matthews from Chewton Glen.  Gary Richmond, Chef Tutor at River Cottage, commenting on his participation at this year’s show said:  “Thank you so much for the opportunity to demonstrate at this year’s Hotel & Catering Show 2015.  As a passionate Dorset Chef it was a great pleasure for me to be able to do this on ‘home turf’.  The organisation and support on the day was brilliant which made the demonstrating much easier!”

The Hospitality Talks seminar sessions were bursting at the seams as visitors packed in to hear industry experts impart invaluable knowledge on a number of hot industry topics.  Visitors were particularly motivated by Ali Carter, MD of Cater Cost as she delivered her presentation on ‘Using Your Menu as a Hard Selling Tool’ and inspired by Professor Dimitrios Buhalis Director of The eTourism Lab, as he took people through their paces on Social Media Engagement in Hospitality and Tourism.  Dr Charles McIntyre gave an enlightening talk on how to influence the performance of hospitality spaces through more effective spatial design, and Monica Or, Founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy shared her Top 10 Secrets to a Successful Hotel Business.

On completing his Master Class entitled ‘Freshly Foraged and Home Grown’, James Golding, Group Chef Director of ‘The Pig’ Hotel Group raced over to the Hospitality Talks theatre to give visitors fascinating insights in a talk called ‘Keeping It Local’.  Together with Executive Chef for Marriot Hotels, Matt Budden, they demonstrated their passion for provenance and showed how improvements could be made by working closely with local suppliers.  Visitors also learned how to use the seasonality of products to the industry’s advantage to construct delicious menu offerings to pull customers back time and time again.

The Liquid Bar was buoyed by a record attendance as hundreds sampled mocktails, cocktails and enjoyed stunning mixology displays.  Sponsored by Nectar Imports and held in association with the UK Bartender’s Guild (UKBG), expert bartenders from the region worked with an array of beverages and products from a variety of exhibiting companies to deliver stunning visual displays, demonstrations and interactive workshops.  Exciting competitions were held between UKBG Champions from across the country against celebrated ‘Local Legend’ talent.  Battles also took place in the form of the Meridian Bartenders League Market Challenge,wherecontestants had 15 minutes to visit stands throughout the show to choose ingredients, vessels and garnishes with the winners judged on originality, bravery and interaction with the public.