Tag Archives: Hotel
This year has started somewhat explosively, with concerns about the environment, bush fires, international political escalations and the future of certain members of the monarchy in jeopardy. But people still have to eat. So putting the news aside, it’s time to consider the next twelve months for catering businesses. Here are our top tips for catering businesses for 2020.
Firstly, there are no guarantees about the impact of Brexit. The best route to take is the one that is already benefiting your business directly. Top of the list is the maintenance of your appliances. Put in place a maintenance programme for your ovens. This will ensure that whatever disasters or decisions may befall us over the next twelve months; a substandard, under-performing oven won’t be one of them.
It’s All About the Planning
Secondly, plan for regular and irregular annual events. There are always catering opportunities linked to traditional dates, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, food festivals and so on. Take a look at our sporting calendar for additional opportunities in 2020. It’s an Olympic year as well as Euro 2020 for football fans and the start of the new cricket Hundred game. So if you are catering for sports fans, take advantage or provide an alternative for non-sports fans.
Staff training is essential. Don’t stint on training because if something goes wrong, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make sure that your staff are fully familiar with all relevant health and safety requirements and appliance operation, and make this an ongoing exercise. There is a plethora of H&S legislation and come Brexit, there is bound to be more. Educate your staff so that in your absence, your business will still thrive.
Set goals in terms of time management and profit and loss, and make them realistic. There is nothing more demoralising than not reaching your target within the time frame allotted but be reasonable on yourself. We have endured a turbulent and uncertain few years politically, and it’s not over yet. Continue working to the highest standard professionally and don’t cut corners.
Invest in catastrophe training. As we have seen from the traumatic scenes in Australia, sometimes we are at the mercy of unforeseen and unpredictable forces. These may be natural or man-made but either way, they can cause the loss of business. Be prepared. If you are a mobile catering company, plan for both rain and shine at events. If you live in flood-prone areas, check weather predictions and plan for the safe removal or protection of appliances and staff.
The last of our top tips for catering businesses and perhaps most importantly, keep an eye on current trends. We have seen a momentous rise in vegan and vegetarian demands for restaurants and fast food outlets in the past few years. With culinary trends changing constantly, there is always an opportunity for savvy operators to gain a foothold in a new market.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and always check out the news on AC Services Southern’s blog and like our Facebook page.
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair celebrated a landmark birthday last week and the show provided a special 20th anniversary edition at Olympia, London. The event held between 1 and 3 September attracted over 10,000 visitors, food producers, exhibitors, speakers and VIPs.
The Fair has always had an excellent reputation as an environment to reach out and make connections with existing or potential new partners and customers. As a result, The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is eagerly anticipated by those involved in artisan and speciality produce. These include independent retailers, chefs, delicatessens, hoteliers, importers, restaurateurs, distributors and wholesalers. Each are given the unique opportunity to source, network and get up to date with the latest trends.
2019 saw nine Welsh artisan food and drink companies exhibiting under the Food & Drink Wales banner. The country has a long established status at the show for innovation and this year was no different. Halen Môn, the Anglesey Sea Salt Company launched DIY Brine kits for Christmas poultry. While Daioni Organic showcased its coffee range with 100% Fairtrade single-origin organic Arabica coffee beans from Mexico.
South Caernarfon Creameries featured its new handcrafted range of cheeses. These include Dragon Cavern Aged Cheddar with Penderyn Whiskey and Dragon Welsh Slate Cavern Aged Cheddar. The Parsnipship showcased its full range of vegetarian and vegan produce such as Glamorgan Crumble, stilton and spinach potato cake and tandoori mash-up.
The Welsh Government supported the nine companies to attend Speciality & Fine Food Fair in the dedicated Cymru/Wales Pavilion.
Seminars and Features
Elsewhere at the Fair, the Food for Thought speaker programme featured successful entrepreneurs and industry experts. Their topics covered sustainability, the reduction of food waste, customisation, plant-based food, fermentation and Made in Great Britain.
The Savour the Flavour live demonstration kitchen created dishes inspired by products from the show. The Fair’s portfolio director, Soraya Gadelrab commented: “Kitchens are so vibrant. It’s all about the taste and visual appeal of dishes so we’re delighted to translate this directly at the fair through the live demo kitchen…the Food for Thought programme offers an unrivalled insight into the latest trends set to influence menus, from fine to casual dining”.
In recognition of the expanding success of the booming drinks market, the Drinks Cabinet returned for its second year. This features luxury small and large batch spirits, beers, ales, wines and ciders, as well as the burgeoning low- and no-mixers and soft drinks sectors.
The Discovery Zone enabled visitors to find innovative brands created in the past three years. It included everything from antipasti to oils, seasonings, cheese and charcuterie, dairy and dairy alternatives and fish and seafood.
The Shop of the Year competition had a stand. It offers small independent retailers the opportunity to shine, with five main categories, namely delicatessen and grocer; specialist cheese shop; farmer owned farm shop; food hall; and specialist food or drink shop. There is also a Newcomer Award. Entries close on September 20th. So if you missed the Fair, there’s still time to enter the Awards to celebrate your success and generate more interest.
The summer is coming to an end and although we’ve had a blistering Bank Holiday, thoughts will soon be turning to the next major event in our calendar, the Big C. There’s even a Christmas tree up in my local heralding the start of the party season. Too soon, far too soon!
Meanwhile, the food industry is as busy as ever and more Bristol food producers are springing up offering alternative and sustainable produce. Farm Wilder is an excellent example of producers taking sustainability to another level. The company was set up in January 2019 in Bristol. It selects and labels the highest quality produce from the most wildlife-friendly farms. The rapid decline of the wildlife in the UK led the company to source the best produce from SW farms. It supports “farmers’ restoration of biodiversity and sequestration of carbon back into the soil.”
What’s in a Name?
The farmers producing Fritillary butterfly beef help protect Marsh Fritillary butterflies in Devon. These cattle are slower growing than modern breeds, but produce the tastiest and healthiest meat. Farmers producing Cuckoo beef help Devon’s cuckoos in Devon with native hardy cattle thriving on the meadows and moors.
Cuckoo lamb is also available, with the same aim as the beef. Grazing native sheep like Scottish Blackface, Welsh Black Mountain and Dorsets, maintain the habitat needed by cuckoos to thrive. All of the animals are pasture-fed feeding on a natural diet of pasture and forage such as hay in winter. They are less likely to suffer from disease and require little veterinary attention or antibiotics.
Bristol Community Producers
Once upon a time, Elm Tree Farm was used as an occupational therapy resource hospital farm. It now offers adults with learning disabilities and autism gain work skills such as animal husbandry, market garden, nursery or woodwork. With around four acres of growing land, including several polytunnels and an orchard; the farm produces fruit, vegetables, chickens and other livestock using native breeds. As the behaviour of the animals suits the landscape and the quality of the meat is higher. The meat is all slaughtered and butchered locally, then kept frozen and sold from the on-site farm shop.
Edible Futures was set up as a Community Interest Company, seven years ago. With almost 1.5 acres here and two 90ft polytunnels, fruit, herbs and vegetables are grown. The company sells around 50% of their produce directly to local restaurants. The rest is sold through a Community Supported Agriculture model called Salad Drop, where members get a small, medium or large share of salad once a week, delivered to one of three drop off points around Bristol.
Finally, if you are ever in need of goat, then Troopers Hill in East Bristol offers Street Group. This is a group of people who keep goats in the city. As well as female milking goats, the group have also raised male offspring; initially using them to clear overgrown allotments, then buying castrated males goats for conservation grazing on overgrown land to restore important habitat for wildlife. The male goats are then sold for meat.
Bristol food producers consistently offer variety and the new. Ideal for the catering businesses that AC Services Southern serves locally.
The hotel industry as a whole is doing quite well in 2019. Europe’s hospitality industry is reporting positive results with an ever-increasing number of hotels being constructed. 1,504 projects accounting for 192,352 rooms were in construction as of July 2019. This is a 52.4% year-on-year increase in the number of rooms in the final phase of the development pipeline.
Germany leads the European table with 52,704 rooms, equal to 7.9% of the country’s existing supply. It is followed by the UK, Spain and France.
In the UK, London is set to add 11,600 rooms to its hotel market by 2020. It holds its place as a world class destination for both business and leisure with a number of different styles of establishments opening across a range of price bands. The weakness of the pound has attracted numerous overseas hotel operators and investors to invest in hotel real estate.
This rise of hotel investment is a result of the increase in demand for operational and alternative property types. Several novel hotel ideas are springing up around the world. Some of these are spectacular and unique. Such as the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, labelled the world’s first underground five-star resort with the bottom two floors underwater. There is also the Game of Thrones themed hotel in Finland, which is attracting much attention.
UK Apprentice Recruitment
While some chains are concentrating on design; others such as the independent hotel group Elite Hotels are looking closer to home. It is calling on the hotel industry to change its view on apprenticeships. Working with local schools, colleges and charities, Elite Hotels has embedded apprenticeships into their business structure to create a “unique” form of training in five-star hospitality service.
Paul Coley, group personnel and development manager at Elite Hotels, said: “…we knew just how valuable apprenticeships can be – creating a pipeline of talent is key to our recruitment strategy and apprenticeships offer a great opportunity to welcome young people into the world of hospitality and help develop talent to combat the skills gap in our industry.”
Similarly, Travelodge launched a new recruitment scheme in May . It offers students a permanent job with flexible working hours designed around their study programme in their university and home locations. The brand looking to fill 3,000 jobs this summer.
Maximising Space Use
Another novel idea is Spacemize. This enables guests access to book hot desking space across designated areas within high-end partner venues. At the moment it’s only available in London. Hotels turn their empty tables into a work area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. While users get complimentary tea and coffee as well as discounts on food and beverage at the locations.
Spacemize provides a solution to entrepreneurs with a flexible place to work from in luxury venues; and it offers hotels an additional revenue stream and increased customer loyalty to the venues.
The hotel industry is not sitting on its laurels but is attempting to expand for the future, by adopting new ideas and pushing forward to provide value as well as quality accommodation.
In a week that saw the highest temperatures ever recorded in July not only in the UK but in other parts of Europe, talk has turned to peanuts and other crops that might be at risk.
Global peanuts consumption has grown at the rate of 2.53% and expected to grow further during 2019-2024. China and India are the largest consumer and exporters of peanuts in the world, accounting for more than 36% of the global consumption.
But according to reports, peanuts might be extinct by 2030. The reason is that peanuts are considered “fairly fussy plants”, and need five months of consistent warm weather, along with 20 to 40 inches of rain. If there is not enough rain, the pods won’t germinate. If there is too much rain, the plants will wilt making the peanuts inedible. We know from America’s peanut production that droughts and heat waves can destroy entire peanut crops. With the weather getting record-breakingly warmer, this is a worry.
Last week, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands recorded their highest ever temperatures. Several cities in France broke previous temperature records with Bordeaux and Paris exceeding 40 degrees. Here’s the science: the latest heatwave has been caused by an omega block which is a high-pressure pattern that blocks and diverts the jet stream, allowing a mass of hot air to flow up from northern Africa and the Iberian peninsula.
All of this climate change is putting crops at risk in harvest yields worldwide. It’s not just the heat however, crops are affected by unusually cold nights, weeks with no rainfall and storm-driven precipitation. All of which account for up to 49% of yield losses for maize, rice, spring wheat and soy beans.
Extensive studies have been carried out in Europe, the US and Africa to measure the cost to the grains, pulses and tubers that feed 7.7 billion people. These now have the aim of isolating the factors within climate change that might affect harvests.
Researchers have found that the maize yield in Africa is in a dire situation. Africa’s share of global maize production is not large, but the largest part of that production goes to human consumption. When compared to just 3% in North America, it is clear why maize is critical here for food security. Consider also that in the UK and Europe, maize is a key foodstock for cows, milk and beef and so indirectly human consumption.
Crops at Risk
The climate is crucial to most growth with food items such as avocados and chickpeas needing an awful lot of water to be produced. 72 gallons in fact to make just one pound of avocados. More than 80% of America’s avocados are grown in California, where there’s a drought. Similarly, chickpeas need almost the same amount of water. Global production of these legumes has gone down 40-50% due to worldwide droughts.
And what about coffee? The unimaginable could happen. Most coffee comes from Arabica beans, which grow best between 64 F and 70 F. If the temperature rises above that, the plants ripen too quickly, which affects the quality of the yield.
The bottom line is that climate change is happening and will affect the food we grow and eat. The extremes of British weather over the last week emphasises our vulnerability and allows us to reflect.
According to statistics from the ONS, visitor numbers to the UK are slightly down year on year by about 2%; with 2.9 million overseas visits in March 2019.
However, 2018 was a record-breaking year in terms of tourists so the figures are not in any way alarming.
Between January and March 2019, there were 7.8 million inbound visits to the UK. This is just 1% below the inbound visits in the same period in 2018. Overall, overseas visitors to the UK spent £22.7 B in the twelve months to March 2019. This is down a more worrying 8% compared to the previous twelve-month period.
In June and July, tourism gave a huge boost to the economy with the hosting of the Cricket World Cup. Hampshire County Cricket Club hosted five matches in the long-awaited tournament. This brought a total of £18.3 million to Southampton alone. While Birmingham is predicted to generate a staggering £32.1 million from the tournament.
Many of the fans have travelled from Pakistan and India to watch the cricket. The recent India versus Pakistan match witnessing a staggering 750,000 applications for the 26,000-seat stadium. The importance of sporting global events in terms of boosting the economy cannot be underestimated.
At the end of June, the government announced a deal to prepare Britain for an extra 9 million visitors per year. This is heralded as a major boost for the pub and hospitality sectors in particular. A Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board will be created to promote and market hospitality jobs as viable career options. A three-year industry led skills and recruitment campaign will also be funded.
In addition, local tourism zones will be created alongside a new business events strategy and more investment in infrastructure. The deal will also support the creation of 10,000 new apprenticeships for anyone building a career in tourism or hospitality.
Hospitality sector trade body UK Hospitality hailed it as a landmark moment as chief executive, Kate Nicholls explains. “This sector deal marks a tremendous moment for all of us in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries. The move will be absolutely critical in changing the perception of the sector within Government and the wider public opinion, and acknowledges hospitality is key to the country’s economic growth.”
The Rise of Chinese Visitors
Finally, China’s rising wealth has resulted in a huge growth of tourism abroad, making Chinese people the world’s most abundant tourists. A new travel trends study by TripAdvisor reveals that travellers from China have shown one of the biggest increases in views of UK destinations, with an increase of 133% in Chinese travellers.
“Overall, these results are great news for the UK hospitality industry – we’re seeing real growth in interest from many countries and resoundingly good reviews from travellers,” said Fabrizio Orlando, industry relations manager, TripAdvisor.
Summer is well and truly upon us with the seasonal sporting tournaments reaching their conclusions and the temperatures finally rising. This means that eateries are eagerly anticipating a rising number of visitors; and with competition fierce, new restaurant food trends are emerging to give restaurants the edge over their competitors.
As expected, due to the barbeque season, there have been price increases in home-produced lamb, beef and poultry. France has shown unexpected interest in UK lamb and imported beef is in shorter supply. As a result, suppliers are advising alternative cuts. These not only make use of the whole animal but are representing better value.
With crab prices high, due in part to a high demand from China, native lobsters are being perceived as at an interesting alternative. Native king scallops have taken over from queen scallops, which should be avoided due to sustainability issues.
The berry season in Britain has got off to a flying start with excellent growing conditions. With the tradition of Wimbledon, strawberries have come into their own followed by raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as crops ripen. Some restaurants are using fresh berries to flavour and garnish cocktails and other fancy drinks as well as incorporating them into desserts.
As far as vegetables are concerned, Jersey Royal potatoes are extremely good quality and value this year. This is a relief after the weather adversely affected last year’s overall potato crop.
Mushrooms have, well, mushroomed in popularity with a range of varieties available across the summer. Morels, St George’s and puffballs are joined by the Scottish-grown girolle mushrooms which are due in season in August, bringing a fresh and fruity tang to dishes.
Vegan Tops All
Millennials introduced us to the term influencers and as a genre, they are responsible for a change in tastes. Compared with a year ago, customers are looking for healthier options, driven by millennials.
One restaurant chain that has seen this change is Greene King, with boss Nick Mackenzie explaining that veganism is becoming increasingly popular in his pubs. He says: “it isn’t just millennials but on a wider basis consumer trends are shifting. Most of our menus have vegan options and healthy eating is a big part of it. The trend in veganism is one that will continue.”
On the theme of veganism, a few hitherto unknown items are hitting the headlines. Watch out for aquafaba, the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas that used to go down the drain and is now whipped into an egg replacer for baked goods and sauces. Or in the chocolate mousse pictured.
Meanwhile America is going nuts over the health benefits of tea made from avocado leaves. Whether or not this will take off over here remains to be seen; but the beauty spotting potential restaurant foods trends is some never get beyond a fad.
Boutique hotels are categorised as small and intimate establishments, far away from the mighty conglomerates that appear in every town and city of the UK. These hotels are usually located in the most hip and fashionable urban areas. Their charm generally lies in their stylish design decor and personal touches that distinguish them from other hotel brands.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1981 that the first official boutique hotel opened in London.
Over the past two years, the sector has seen stellar growth. Independent hotel rooms still comprise more than half of the serviced accommodation rooms in the UK. The Independent Hotel Show managed to encapsulate the enthusiasm for the future development of the sector.
Over the two days seminars addressed relevant topics and offered advice to independent and boutique hotel owners and managers. These seminars covered everything, from managing websites to design using limited space, offering the best service possible and tips and tactics to ramp up food and beverage options to keep menus fresh.
Among the more interesting discussions was one on trends for the future. A hotel stay is more than just a room for the night and customers expect more than just the basic levels. Guests want to know what else is on offer. This has led to the rise of combination hotels. A basic example is the hotel and spa. This has expanded to giddy heights such as a hotel and art gallery in Beijing and a hotel and perfumery in Paris. These hotels are now known as slashy hotels. This term first came to prominence in the film, Zoolander, where it referred to model/actors.
On a more local level, visitors want to book a whole experience in one place. The 2018 Independent Hotel Show offered invaluable advice on how hotels can best offer local expertise and knowledge via local experience packages. The Show also focused on the importance of technology offering convenience. These include being able to control the temperature and lighting in the room via apps, and virtual concierge to allow guests to make requests quickly without needing to leave the room.
Other trends involve pop-up hotels, especially those associated with festivals or other events. This trend is complemented by glamping, described as a hybrid of camping and hotel-stays. For the catering industry, this is a major opportunity, especially for mobile caterers in the locality.
Finally, the centrepiece of the 2018 Independent Hotel Show was the Hotel Bedroom of the Future immersive installation. Luxury bedroom specialists Two’s Company built this “inspired by the results of several intense research sessions with industry experts”.
It barely seems any time at all since the last Restaurant Show but apparently, it has been a whole year. And last week, it returned to Olympia in London. The Restaurant Show 2018 incorporated The Bar and Pub Show and the Catering Equipment Expo.
These three brought the hospitality industry together. Catering for those owning, operating and working in restaurants, hotels, pub, bars and hospitality establishments across the UK.
As always, the event attracted hordes of visitors for companies showcasing their products. Seminar subjects were wide ranging. From digital storytelling: the secret ingredient for social media success to what’s next for casual dining and some strong advice on creating the ultimate cheeseboard!
Other topics included combining the art of hospitality with smarter technology and the influence of the fast-moving world of coffee as well as the importance of the correct background music to create exactly the right ambience.
National Chef of the Year
One of the highlights of the three-day event was the National Chef of the Year competition. This has been running since 1972 and has become one of the UK’s most respected and sought-after culinary titles.
The ceremony saw Kuba Winkowski, head chef from The Feathered Nest Inn crowned as the new National Chef of the Year. His menu included native lobster, oyster emulsion, Yorkshire grouse, quince, and sticky toffee dessert. The runner-up spot went to George Blogg, head chef at Gravetye Manor. With Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle taking third place in the dramatic cook-off.
The Catering Equipment Expo proved to be the place to get a great deal on the latest products. A range of catering equipment was on display, from cookers to fridges and those strange-looking but essential items that only a cook can recognise. Among the exhibitors was Rational displaying its SelfCooking Center and VarioCooking Centers.
Food Glorious Food
Food and drink, obviously were plentiful with over 400 suppliers exhibiting at this year’s event. New products included Drunken Dairy Ltd’s selection of booze-infused dairy and free-from ice creams and vegan sorbets. The Handmade Cake Company launched its Vegan Belgian Chocolate Cake, specially designed to be 100% vegan.
The Restaurant Show 2018 celebrated its 30th birthday with an abundance of products, seminars and events aimed at anyone involved in the catering industry. Visitors were delighted with the range of advice and new initiatives aimed at maintaining the restaurant industry’s standards in the modern world, with everything needed to sustain a successful business under one roof at Olympia.
For the first time since 1976, we have enjoyed a blisteringly hot summer. The sun has shone relentlessly down on the country, bringing hordes of holidaymakers onto the motorways of Britain, heading for the sea.
So much so that Cornwall issued a ‘cannot cope’ warning last week. Visitor numbers are already up by about 20% on the 4.5 million who usually flock to the region at this time of year.
Cornwall’s tourism chief Malcolm Bell claims the county is “struggling to cope” and the tourist board has decided to stop promoting a few of the most popular beaches.
And the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands is under siege from a massive surge in visitors. This has put the island’s infrastructure under pressure. Trends elsewhere suggest that the UK hotel industry will need to be able to cope with higher demand.
But on a positive note, imagine the joy of hotel owners and caterers as the mercury rises. It’s not just coastal areas that are eagerly looking forward to profits at the end of the year. London is expecting over 9,000 hotel rooms to open. This is more than the 8,000 rooms that opened in 2012, the Olympic year.
2017 had a boost to inbound holidays from the weak pound. But despite fears of a lull in 2018, there is a lot of optimism. Factors influencing travel to the UK in 2018 were the Royal Wedding, Farnborough International Air Show, the European Sports Championships in Scotland, the Gymnastics World Cup in Birmingham and the Terracotta Warriors to the World Museum in Liverpool.
The International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF2018) was held back in March and good news came from it. Last year economic outlook at the time was cautious, but this year, there was plenty of optimism.
Marc Socker, Managing Director of investment management firm Invesco, asserted that there was more interest than he had ever seen in the sector. “First and foremost, hotels is a growth sector,” also pointing out that only 4% of Chinese nationals currently have passports and 5% of Indians. In addition, it is quite mind-boggling to realise that 90% of Americans do not have passports. “Every increase of 1% (in those populations with passports) leads to tens of millions of new travellers coming into the European market,” he maintained.
After this summer, with the forecast for more similar sun-baked summers to follow, investors could do worse than put their money into resorts and complexes. The UK has a wealth of coastal accommodation. With hotter and longer summers, the UK hotel industry is ideally positioned to attract new investment and offer the UK as an alternative to other European or Mediterranean destinations.
The UK has one of the best heritages of any country. It is renowned for its historic locations and its excellent cuisine. Some of the best chefs in the world were if not born here, then settled and opened restaurants here. The UK hotel industry has to seize every opportunity to attract visitors and tempt them to the country’s shores.