This March saw the return of the UK’s largest and most prestigious hospitality event, Hotelympia. Happily, it also marked Jellybean’s fifth chapter as PR partner. As the leading foodservice agency, we were proud to once again spread the word in the lead-up to the show and also to run the dedicated press office throughout the four days.

Held at the ExCeL London and inviting over 30,000 visitors, this time around the show introduced four new, exciting and contemporary shows, united under one roof, as part of a fresh new identity. Each of the four new co-located events, The Foodservice Show, incorporating a coffee focused Café Commerce section and feature; Hospitality Tech Show; The Professional Kitchen Show and Interiors and Tableware Show, showcased some 750 dedicated exhibitors.

This year also marked a massive milestone for the event as it launched its rebrand for 2020, reverting back to its 1935 identity of ‘HRC’ (The Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Show), lending greater clarity to its offer. Indeed, the Fresh Montgomery team has already committed £150,000 of investment to create the UK’s first hospitality and foodservice hosted buyer programme. Exciting times ahead.

This being my very first Hotelympia, I would like to offer my take on the experience. So here goes…

Sunday 4th March: The Jellybean team would once again be out in force running the dedicated press office. Heading to the London ExCel, Nick and Susan put operation ‘build press office’ into full motion with the main objective to create a safe haven, a relaxing place for all press to file copy and find out more about new launches and features. That evening I travelled up to London with fellow bean Neil (aka wingman) in full preparation for Monday’s early start.

Monday 5th March: Show time. With some extra beans in tow to offer a helping hand, the show doors opened. With hundreds of press already registered and an impressive show floor good to go, we were certainly going to have our work cut out, a task that we were ready for (cue the survival guide). Each of the four days had a variety of events and a full Hotelympia speaker programme scheduled, including some of most respected and experienced industry professionals. On that note, our resident retail expert, Neil Brenson also took to the Café Commerce Stage to head up the panel on a discussion all about Staff, Skills and their Futures. As a busy day one came to an end, myself and Neil attended La Parade des Chefs, Hotelympia’s fine dining restaurant, for a glitzy evening event and the official launch of HRC. Offering a chance for visitors to network (and enjoy a much needed drink) and also giving us the chance to sample some of the distinctive cocktails and canapé delights, courtesy of two national culinary teams battling in the dual kitchens.

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Tuesday 6th March: Day two again offered an array of live demos, competitions and even some celebrity appearances. In order to guide journalists on the hottest tickets, each day we prepared a day-by-day handout guide – an ideal way for us to highlight new launches and panel discussions to attendees who popped into the press office. Tuesday saw the turn of very own MD, Susan Bolam, as she took to the Hospitality Futures stage to moderate a panel discussion in association with SquareMeal all about ‘The Ultimate Dining Experience’. If you didn’t happen to catch one of us beans in the press office or marching the show floor, we were live tweeting from any one of the multiple stages or working alongside a host of our clients and taking in everything the show had to offer.

Wednesday 7th March: Show visitors were once more greeted by new products and some engaging and interesting stand activity. As another busy day came to an end, the evening was dedicated to celebrating the successes of women in hospitality, a way to celebrate the arrival of International Women’s Day on Thursday (8th). La Parade was again the place to be, with an event to celebrate the successes, look at challenges and focus on opportunities for women in the industry, with the addition of some inspirational speakers. I was once again lucky enough, alongside newbie bean Natalie, to take part in the celebrations. It gave us another great opportunity to network with different people from across the industry and also, once more, enjoy some of the delicious and innovative cocktails and canapés on offer (you might have spotted a theme here).

Thursday 8th March: International Women’s Day and also the marking of the fourth and final show day. Where had the week gone? The event seemingly flew by, but with our main man Nick joining us back in the press office, we continued the operation, circulating the show floor to collect exhibitor testimonials. As the doors of the press office closed on what had become our home for the past four days, and the dismantling of the show stands began, it was clear to see the impressive and extensive catalogue of attendees from this year’s show. It was then, homeward bound.

Hotelympia 2018 was overall hailed by visitors and exhibitors a massive success and on the back of such a positive reaction, which will no doubt further strengthen the show’s proposition in the hospitality industry going forward, Hotelympia will now become HRC – a fresh new identity for a show with serious heritage.

If you’ve never attended a trade show before, they can be a bit daunting and face to face events can be a testing endeavour for a first timer like me. Being fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be such a big part of the press office team, for the entire duration of the show, was a brilliant experience, and better than I had anticipated. It wasn’t until walking around the show floor I realised the importance and impact it can have on a company to be able to promote itself at such a massive trade event. I have gained more knowledge of the industry, learnt some tricks of the trade and I’d happily take the chance to do it all over again.

Here’s to 2020!