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Experiencing a tradeshow through the eyes of an intern

Posted 05 October Sarah Abraham

Starting my second week as a sales and marketing intern at Celestra I had the opportunity to go to Restaurant and Tech Live, my first ever tradeshow. Coming straight from my undergrad degree studying Fashion, Business and Promotion my initial feelings were that I didn’t know how my skills would translate to this industry. Starting my internship at Celestra my knowledge of EPoS systems didn’t stem further from using them in my previous job being a waitress, going to a tradeshow was a brilliant opportunity to learn more about the industry and come away having a better understanding.

My thoughts prior to the tradeshow, were that it would give me a chance to network with other industry professionals, see who the key players within the field are and what the current/future trends are.

Arriving at the ExCel in London, we were given our lanyards and walking around my initial thoughts were that it was much bigger than I anticipated. With a wide range of stands which occupied EPoS tech through to independent food/ drink brands. I visited well-known company stands within the industry demonstrating what they offer and how they’re incorporating tech into their businesses.

Walking around a stand that stood out for me was WRS. Their stand looked attractive with the use of bright colours, the location central and an open plan layout. Speaking to Emma Wilson, the Business Development Manager at WRS, who also has the role of making marketing decisions, she was able to give an insight from a marketing stance of the opportunities gained from having a stand at a trade show, including meeting potential clients and showcasing what they do as a company. The work that goes into the design of the stand, the setup and standing out from the crowd. With the tradeshow holding hundreds of companies/ brands it was clear that it is essential to have a stand that stands out to attract the attention. If the look doesn’t attract people then the freebies certainly will, you can never have too many pens or branded water bottles!

A particular highlight was attending Eloise Sheppard, Call Systems Technology and Ashley Sheppard, QSR Automations seminar; “Top technology trends as hospitality goes digital”. I was able to get more of a scope on what the trends for technology within hospitality look like and are forecasted to be. From robotics in the kitchen such as Flippy the burger-flipping robot helping back of house to decrease food wait time and allow employees to focus on customer experience. Another trend was chatbots which allow consumers to get more from a restaurant experience such as focussing on offers/deals, making reservations and ordering ahead. See end of blog for a great quote from Eloise Sheppard, Managing Director, Call Systems Technology.

Seeing many technology uses for hospitality was an indication into where the sector is going in utilising technologies; not only the kitchen but customer experience and efficiency. With it now being expected from the majority of brands to utilise technology in as many ways as possible to increase customer turnover, upselling, ease and many other factors to improve their customer service as a company. The question now is, what’s next?

Are robots the future of our hospitality experiences? Pepper the robot was at the tradeshow demonstrating how robots could interact with customers, in a sense take the role of a human by providing a unique customer service experience. With kiosks becoming commonplace in our fast food outlets, it is an increasing customer expectation to engage with technology at some point in their experience within a food or drink establishment. The idea of robots now ‘taking over’ doesn’t seem so farfetched as it once was.

All in all, my first tradeshow experience opened my eyes to the industry that I am starting my career in. As IT services is not my forte, having the opportunity to visit a tradeshow, has allowed me to see the breadth of technology that is possible and how technology can be utilised more within this sector. With IT now seeming not so nerdy as I once thought it was interesting to see the leading brands are revolutionising the market. The opportunity to meet people and get their experiences of working in this industry gave me an insight into what to expect from my year of interning at Celestra.

 

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  • In the current climate, the key for restaurateurs is to underpin their operations with the right technology to deliver efficiency and profit. Savvy restaurateurs are already using front and back of house systems for reservations, guest and table management, app and kiosk ordering, kitchen automation, communication and delivery. The frontrunner is definitely AI technology like voice and text chatbots. On the digital horizon we have personalised nutrition, facial recognition and cryptocurrency payments and whilst perhaps a little way off mainstream adoption yet, the robots are coming. In VR we could be seeing ‘try before you buy’ experiences and AR will make the physical and digital world indistinguishable, expanding to other senses like smell and touch. Operators are increasingly looking at how ‘robots’ can act as a pair of hands, such as to cook food or deliver orders, leaving their teams to focus on the guest experience and more rewarding work.

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