Yesterday, Simon Blackbourne (Commercial Director at Tahola) spent a very interesting morning at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Conference run by THINK Hospitality and Propel, here are his main takeaways from yesterday's event.
"I wasn’t sure what to expect and given it's marketing focus, I wasn’t sure of it’s relevance to me, Tahola and the solutions we provide. I needn’t have worried though. Although I was only able to stay until lunchtime, they managed to cover some diverse topics with some great speakers in a short space of time.
Over the course of the morning, we heard research from KAM Media Insight that will be published next month on influences that dictate the decisions we make about eating out; we heard how Kamila Sitwell believes the future success of hospitality centres around bespoke experiences; Richard Dickson from Carbon Free Dining talked about how restaurants can offset their carbon footprint for free by planting trees; Jon Knight, CEO of Jamie Oliver Restaurants drew comparisons between retail and hospitality and what operators can learn from the retail sector; Chris Miller of the White Rabbit Fund interviewed four entrepreneurs about their experience in creating their start-up businesses; Simon Allison of Inception Group talked about how the business has rolled out the Mr Foggs brand across London with each unit having a different theme; and finally, Craig Melvin talked about how to attract corporates to hold their events in your venues. Is it possible to include anything else in a single morning?
The things that really stood out for me though were:
How easy it appears to be for operators to offset their carbon footprint at little or no cost, whilst creating a PR and marketing story that will resonate with environmentally minded consumers. Operators are seeing this as having a positive effect on their business performance.
Social media was discussed by almost every speaker with Instagram being the most lauded. During the panel debate, there was talk of Facebook and Twitter waning in usefulness with Instagram being held as the tool that has got them to where they are. Presumably ignore it at your peril. Video was a tool used heavily by Inception Group in their rollout strategy for Mr Foggs and is equally as powerful as Instagram.
Finally, the creation of tailored, customised or bespoke experiences for customers is here now and is only going to increase in popularity. These experiences range from a simple customisation of a food or drink item off the menu, to full on theatre conducted at your table. Kamila Sitwell’s book “Bespoke” explains just what this customisation is all about.
So, a very interesting morning with some great takeaways. If the rest of the conference maintains this very high standard of content, then I’m sure the delegates will take away some great ideas for their own businesses".