The Restaurant Conference is the flagship event in the restaurant industry’s calendar, drawing a 300-strong crowd of the sector’s senior executives in 2017. They came from all over the UK to hear insight from leading brands’ CEOs, founders of emerging concepts and thought-leaders.
5 key takeaways from the 2017 Conference (2018 highlights to come)
1. Jinlong Wang, Chief Executive of PizzaExpress, told the conference he sees huge potential in the experience economy. He likened the restaurant industry to show business and called his brand’s blend of entertainment and dining ‘dinnertainment’.
2. Lord Mark Price opened his talk on the power of employee engagement by sharing business lessons learned from his father, which became the foundation of his leadership as Managing Director of Waitrose and Deputy Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. He explained 5 steps to workplace happiness: 1) reward & recognition 2) information sharing 3) empowerment 4) wellbeing 5) instilling pride & 6) job satisfaction.
3. The Envisioners‘ CEO, Dave Coplin, entertained delegates with a lively talk on creating physical relevance in a digital world. In conclusion, he said the sector must anticipate the expectation of customers and use tech to deliver value to the human being.
4. Antonia Torr, Head of Immigration at law firm Howard Kennedy, reported a trend for decline in staff retention rates following an exodus of EU workers. She told the conference that lack of engagement with employees over Brexit strategy is a big issue.
5. Operators to watch Blacklock, Rola Wala and Chick ‘n’ Sours/CHIK’N shared fascinating insights into the highs and lows of bringing a start-up to life. As well as passion, courage and conviction at the heart of their businesses, all three concepts said that balancing quality, value and excellent experience was vital to their success.