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Why is innovation so important in the hospitality industry?

We absolutely love to hear about innovation in hospitality as it’s something we are constantly looking at as part of The National Chef of the Year. Our marketing team went behind the scenes with three of our sponsors to find out more about the work they are doing in this area.

Why is it so important to be innovative in hospitality?

Lockhart Catering is a key partner for National Chef of the Year and they regularly share news and updates to keep the industry ahead of the game. We asked marketing manager, Simon Britten to reveal his thoughts on why it is so important to be innovative in hospitality. He told us: “The importance of innovation in hospitality is two-fold. Firstly, constantly striving for innovation allows your business to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of hashtags and Instagrammable trends with the next generation of digital consumer. Everyone has the ability to be your best customer or your worst critic, with online reviews increasing businesses exposure overnight given the right outlet. You can read more about how restaurateurs can learn from Instagram on our website. Secondly, a focus on innovation can see a healthy increase in profit. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, with our research from August 2017 that showed consumers would pay up to 20% more for food and drink - provided it’s served on the right tableware. A more innovative approach to presentation had a direct effect on the consumers perceived quality of the food and drink they were presented with.” Read more about this report.  

This year we have been delighted to welcome WearerTech on board as a sponsor of the competition. Célestine Onomo, marketing manager for WearerTech said: “One of the most discussed topics and fears in the hospitality industry revolves around staff turnover and shortage. We spend a lot of time studying and getting in contact with chefs and part of the work that senior chefs do to overcome the challenges they face is finding new ways to retain trained staff. Innovation in the hospitality industry is not only on the plate, it’s needed to offer something to employees that will make them went to stay.”

Duncan Parsonage, business development chef, at Unox added his thoughts: “There are four main reasons innovation is so important: space, time, cost and labour! If a manufacturer or producer can get the edge over a competitor or develop a new market for an innovative product it’s fair to say most buyers will want to have a serious conversation. The reality is that you simply can’t just rely on adding new features to an outdated product, you’ve got to be creative and forward thinking.”

What are suppliers doing to be more innovative?

Lockhart love to combine the latest trends and research into handy guides for their customers, whether they are just starting out with a new coffee shop, or they’re an established high street name. The i360 brand encapsulates its whole approach to innovation. At its heart is a four-stage transformation process which enables Lockhart to work with customers to find new and exciting ways to serve food and drink that will add profitability to their business and differentiate them from their competitors. To make this process possible they have invested in a range of resources designed to offer their customers the inspiration they need to stay one step ahead of the market. You can read the digital magazine here.  

Over the last three years, WearerTech has developed a new range of shoes that have been designed and tested for people standing on their feet all day, especially in kitchen environments. This range of shoes is called Custom Pro. They have partnered with one of the leading universities in Biomechanics, the University of Salford. WearerTech has spent time studying the movements of people standing on their feet all day to develop a range of shoes that are truly comfortable, customisable and that provide pain relief. But they’ve not stopped there and have also created new products based on the chef’s feedback. They have created these products that are essential in the life of a chef, with the help of chefs.  

Last week we told you more about the Evereo from Unox. However, it’s not just this product that oozes innovation. The majority of the Unox oven range allows the user to remotely access stats, such as power and water consumption, historical usage behaviour, and the ability to share standardised cooking programmes. This is a massive help, particularly if you are responsible for a group of ovens and very busy chefs.

What’s the best way to promote innovation to the wider industry?

Simon Britten told us what Lockhart do to showcase the work they are doing in this area: “We are constantly striving to innovate on our current offerings, and everything starts with our London Innovation Centre in Oxford Circus. Packed with products from the world’s leading tableware and glassware manufacturers, as well as catering equipment and food preparation specialists, our London Innovation Centre showcases the very latest in products and technology. The centre is fully equipped with a kitchen, a working bar, dedicated meeting areas and hundreds of metres of innovative product display to create a truly inspiring space for anyone working in the catering and hospitality industries. You can take a virtual tour of the London Innovation Centre here.

WearerTech is currently using a combination of marketing channels but by far, the strongest promotions come from all the chefs who have tested their shoes and talk about them or recommend them to a friend. Célestine Onomo added: “We get some powerful stories of how the shoes have helped chefs with the daily pain they used to experience so who better than a wearer to talk about WearerTech shoes.”

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