Officials from ExCeL London, an exhibition venue, are delighted to have hosted from April 23-24 the UFI Catering Forum, a catering tour taking place for the first time in London.
The event brought together over 60 UFI delegates from venue and event teams around the world, presenting an opportunity for attendees to explore a variety of catering innovations and tour some of London’s most exciting catering operations.
Dr. Rowena Arzt, director of business development at UFI said, “Catering has become an essential service element for exhibitions — there is clearly a new food consciousness among the attendees. During our meeting at ExCeL, we will address core questions around catering and experience innovative catering concepts in the city of London. UFI is proud to organize this new event format where we combine the strong elements of our Focus Meetings with an exciting tour.”
ExCeL is becoming a member of UFI – the global association of the exhibition industry, which represents over 650 member organizations in 83 countries around the world. ExCeL’s membership of UFI widens the scope for international relationships and the sharing of ideas across international markets.
Jeremy Rees, executive director of exhibitions said, “We are so pleased that UFI chose ExCeL to host delegates from around the globe. We know that an innovative catering offering is integral to the success of a venue and has an enormous impact on the visitor experience. London is arguably one of the world’s leading culinary capitals and is pioneering fantastic catering innovations that are impacting the events industry. ExCeL provides the perfect destination from which delegates will start experiencing these exciting new catering options.”
Of what was learnt during the event, moderator Stefan Eckert said, “Eating at tradeshows should be like having a vacation on a busy day. What we’ve learned here is that authenticity is key. We’ve got to move away from generalized food offerings to providing an individualized, localized experience. Caterers of the future will only remain competitive if they can differentiate their offering from the mainstream and meet customer expectation for something special.”
ExCeL was shortlisted as one of three finalists for the UFI Operations & Services Award Competition 2015 “Innovative Catering Concepts for the Exhibition Industry.” ExCeL’s entry presented a unique catering concept undertaken with service partner Leiths during World Travel Market 2014, which delivered a highly tailored solution to support travel professionals representing 186 different countries. This included creating bespoke, authentic, traditional menus which celebrated the unique lifestyles of exhibitor destinations.
The UFI Catering Forum takes place at a time when ExCeL are implementing a major program to redefine every aspect of the visitor’s food and drink experience, from the overall environment and menu choices, to service offers, queue management and labeling. The program, which includes the signing of a 10-year partnership with Compass Group UK and Ireland, will help organizers to boost attendance, increase dwell time and networking opportunities, and create an event experience.