Hotelex 2013: Doughty urges more innovation and creativity

Jonathan Doughty, chairman of FCSI EAME, called for foodservice consultants to be more innovative and creative in order to compete in today’s market

Speaking today at the Hotelex conference in Shanghai, Doughty said that although the internet offered consultants and their clients amazing opportunities, many still weren’t being innovative enough.

“Your website is your business card now,” he said. “In our world, things have changed. I believe that things are going to change even more in the next five years, and we all need to be ready for that.”

He said the importance of a good web presence was even more crucial as the market becomes more global. “The only confines we have now are the confines of the time and distance you can travel,” he said.

“To be the best you need to understand the marketplace you are in,” he concluded. “Understanding where you sit and what you do well is really important.”

Doughty drew on the example of McDonalds, which he said was not the best restaurant in the world, but was the best at being consistent and giving its customers what they have come to expect. Similarly, he used the example of Pret a Manger, which had managed to succeed in difficult overseas markets like France because it made the experience of buying food quick, reliable and easy.

In terms of using the internet for businesses, he said examples of high-end restaurants using Twitter to market meal reservations that have been reserved but cancelled at the last minute was a good example of using the internet to engage directly with your consumers. Most of those offers, he said, go in a matter of minutes, showing that customers are ready and willing to engage. “People are willing participants in the conversation,” he added.

“Less than 4% of hotels in Europe are on Pinterest,” he said. “Why? The internet is probably the most sophisticated and clever tool we have ever had. If you want to be the best, and we want to be different, start thinking about how you can use the internet and these marketing possibilities.”

Location and settings are other ways to distinguish yourself, he said, adding that there are now 200 restuarants in the world that are over 60 storeys high. “The customer has latched on to the idea that what’s different as the best view in town.

“If you are a foodservice consultant these days you are mostly instructing clients to think about the internet and be really clever about the way we use it.

Doughty was speaking at the Foodservice in the 21st Century forum at the international hospitality conference. Don Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher-Nickel, spoke at the same session about operating an energy efficient restaurant. He said the trend towards energy efficiency was being led by young brands, who understood the challenges and wanted to build in sustainability from the start.

Fisher said lots of little changes, such as specific pieces of equipment and changing the lighting provision, could make a lot of difference to the energy output and the costs.

Other speakers included Jane Gannaway, vice president of engineering at Yum! China, Francois Tesnière FCSI, founder and director of 3bornes Architectes, Tony Wang FCSI, founder and design director of Beijing Junchao Kitchen Project and Design, and Clara Ming Pi FCSI, chair of FCSI Asia Pacific Division.

Helen Roxburgh

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