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What we Learned at the Propel Autumn Conference

Posted by - Last updated: Thursday November 15th 2018

Recently, we were lucky enough to sponsor the Multi Club Conference, the latest in a series of exceptional Propel events. This year’s autumn conference was filled with enlightening talks from a variety of speakers across the hospitality industry. It was a pleasure to spend the day with passionate leaders who genuinely care about what they do and the people they work with.

As industry experts we know how valuable fresh insight can be and it was a privilege to learn from the very best. Here are the key messages we took home with us.

Your people are your purpose

We were proud to see one of our customers, Anglian Country Inns, on stage. Managing Director James Nye spoke passionately about the family run business. These roots have laid the foundation for a successful business as James attributes the success of ACI to making people happy by treating them like family. High quality food and looking after your workforce were strong recurring themes throughout the day. The importance of recognising people’s achievements may be common knowledge but James spoke fervently about letting employees share ideas, so they can perform at their best.

Focus on what matters

Matt Snell, Managing Director of Gusto, also believes that people are your greatest assets. In order to differentiate Gusto from the rest of the Italian casual dining market, they had to focus on their values. These ultimately came from the team, helping to drive innovation and marketing an authentic experience.

Gusto placed a huge value on its team

 

Persistence beats resistance

Not many can make the leap from the corporate world to creating a restaurant from scratch, whilst also defying family expectations. Yet Yasmine Larizadeh did when she co-founded Good Life Eatery with her partner, Shirin Kouros. Tired of London’s carb-heavy sandwiches, Yasmine found a gap in the market for a one-stop shop for healthy eating. It was inspiring to hear how she overcame challenges, from difficulties with finding the right location to the restaurant being flooded and temporarily closed for a year. Now reopened and thriving, Yasmine owes her success to never giving up and being surrounded by the right people.   

Passionate people aim high

Taking to the stage with candid humour to talk about his new venture Rock Point Leisure was Daniel Davies, founder of CPL training. He captivated the audience with a bold yet relatable speech. Amidst the laughter and jokes, his passion for Rock Point shone through. He turned problems into solutions; hiring disengaged youths to pick up litter to clean up the town. Being proud of the town and its people are just a couple reasons why Daniel strives to succeed.

Strong brand, strong revenues

Rounding off the day was area Vice-President of Hard Rock International, David Singleton. It was an incredible opportunity to hear David talk so energetically about Hard Rock and how important branding and strategy are. Passion through the brand and vision to create a memorable experience has led to monumental success for Hard Rock all over the world.

Turn Data into Action

John Upton, board member of Motherclucker and Naked Deli, brings a wealth of experience as former Managing Director of Leon and member of the McDonalds’s UK leadership team. John delivered an insightful talk on how businesses can grow sustainably. Embracing data is critical for any business to succeed, instead of relying on gut instincts to make choices. However, John cautions that it’s important not to get swamped by numbers. Data is there to help you gain insight which should then be turned into action. It’s not enough to look at statistics, you need to use the results to make informed decisions.

Haysmacintyre analyses the biggest impacts on operators

Survival of the fittest

Neil Morgan, Managing Director of Christie & Co, gave us a key overview of trends in the pub, restaurant and hotel sector. Using survey collections, they found rents are rising with the number of venues. This supply and demand issue could lead to a pub closure rate higher than in the recession. Although some may lose out, there are some ‘winners’ experiencing growth. Also looking at trends was Andrew Ball, of accountancy specialist haysmacintyre. His survey analysis suggests that the biggest perceived impact for hospitality businesses is recruitment, with operators struggling to fill vacancies and finding good general managers. This labour shortage will likely be exacerbated by Brexit. On the flip side, businesses offering healthier options on the menu have an advantage as the demand for vegan and gluten-free food is on the rise. To remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market, businesses needs to adapt and keeping an eye out for up and coming trends is crucial.

Technology at the table

Clive Consterdine, Marketing Director at Zonal, was filled with enthusiasm for “guest obsessed” technology and was positive that using mobile apps to order and make payments is now becoming an expectation. A critical part to excellent customer service comes at the end of a meal so making it easier and quicker for people to pay should be a priority. This technology brings further benefits as people tend to spend more when they use an app and it paves the way for targeted marketing.

Quality is key

Propel events are never short of variety. Alongside front-line operators Martin Dinkele, Deputy Manager of research and brand consultancy Morar HPI. He looks at what drives a high net promoter score (NPS) and found that exceptional food quality is the most common reason why people would recommend a venue. Martin claims there is a strong correlation between NPS and year-on-year changes in revenue. However, it’s the perception of food quality that really matters. Higher pricing or a heavier cup can implicate higher quality, emphasising that every little detail does count.

 

Spending the day with such genuine and inspirational professionals was a privilege. We’re already looking forward to the next Propel Multi Club conference.   

 

 

A graduate of Economics at Bristol University, Nisha joined Catton in 2018. She enjoys dance, reading and going to the pub.

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