HRC interview

We get a peak behind the scenes courtesy of Jo Farish, event manager for organisers the MontGomery Group. HRC return from 25th to 27th March.

What does your job typically entail?
A lot! As the event manager for HRC I’m responsible for overseeing everything happening at the show, from logistics and operational queries to our sponsors and partners to the amazing seminar programme and features. Plus, as event manager, I naturally have to manage our overall budget and the long-term strategy for the show.

What is the hardest part of putting a show of this size together?
This is my first year managing the event, so it’s been a steep learning curve, as organising trade shows of this size is no small feat! Luckily the team from HRC and Food, Drink and Hospitality Week have been an amazing support network as I find my feet.

And what’s your favourite bit?
I think my favourite part hasn’t happened yet – actually seeing the doors open and watching the industry flood into the sho. We spend so much time planning every little detail of the event, it will be fantastic to see it being built and coming to life.

Are there any themes emerging already?
Alongside hugely important topics like sustainability, staff wellbeing and recruitment, we’ll also be looking at the future of African and Caribbean cuisine, how to master your menu and what the rising in National Living Wage could mean for hospitality – a must-attend session hosted by Kate Nicholls OBE of UKHospitality.

We’ll also have sessions on contract catering in 2024 and beyond, this year’s biggest design trends and a session on the future of foodservice by futurist Simon Stenning. Plus, on our TechX stage, there will be some really helpful sessions for hospitality operators on topics like how labour productivity tools can transform your business, rebuilding a fractured tech stack, how tech can help with modernising shift patterns, and how generative AI could be used by hospitality businesses.

Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to?
Our chef ambassador for 2024, Northcote’s Lisa Goodwin-Allen, will be taking part in a keynote interview, which I know will be incredibly insightful and inspiring. Chef HQ, our demo kitchen, stage and networking area curated by Chef Publishing will definitely be one of the highlights of the show, as will seeing the amazing designs by Harp Design and Design Command for our Vision Stage and Networking Hub.

I’m also looking forward to seeing The Pub Show come to life this year with a brand-new stage in partnership with the British Institute of Innkeepers, a beer garden designed by Black and Stainless Creative Metalwork, and the ever-popular Taproom in partnership with Flightcase Bars.

What is the biggest factor currently affecting the industry?
You can look at any story of hospitality business closure and you’ll see the phrase ‘rising costs’ featured prominently. Whether it’s rent, energy prices or other costs, the narrow profit margins in hospitality are becoming even narrower and many are struggling to cope.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone working in the industry?
I think organising events like HRC and working in the world of hospitality have a lot of commonalities, one being how much we have to prioritise people. Our teams, our business partners, our suppliers and our customers are what makes the world go round and we have to keep them at the heart of everything we do.

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