FCSI EAME chairman Remko van der Graaf talks to Tina Nielsen about his plans for the division’s conference on 18-20 October 2018 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Why did you move the conference forward from 2019 to 2018?
We wanted to have a more regular programme for professional and corporate members. We always have HostMilano and our conference in the same year and those are both big events, one in April and one in October, which cost a lot of time and effort so we decided to change it. This way we can give all members at least one good event each year. So now we have the conference in 2018 and in 2019 we have Host.
What is the theme of the conference?
The future of food and hospitality. For us the future is part of our thinking – who are we going to be in the future? How do we want to perform? I always connect the future with the younger generation, they are the future, but I also think technology is moving very fast.
What can delegates expect?
We are going to do something with 3D food printing and we are going to look at robotics and automation. The future is about younger people, younger consultants, hotel management schools and younger companies on one hand – and on the other hand the older technology and automation. We are also going to look at food waste and sustainability. In hospitality, we have to consider the behaviour of people. The leisure market is becoming more and more important, however it is also going to be harder to attract good people. There are so many challenges we have to consider.
Will there be an interactive element to the conference?
Yes. Part of the programme is that we will be hosting the biggest speed networking session FCSI has ever organised – there will be at least 150-200 people in the conference room and it is a chance for consultants and corporate members to meet each other. We are planning an inspiration tour on the Saturday for the whole group. This is not a sightseeing tour – it is a tour of the special things in Rotterdam, but we will definitely connect with our food and hospitality market. The trend tour is a chance for people to see the city and discover all sorts of developments in food.
Why have you chosen Rotterdam?
Rotterdam is hip and trendy and it has various opportunities in the hotel and restaurant and food markets and also where sustainability is concerned.
What will be different from the conference in Vienna?
First of all, we are going to be on a cruise ship in the harbour. There will be much more time for networking – there will be no more Saturday night dinner where you are at a table with five or six people all night. We’ll change this to a stand-up dinner, connecting people. The focus will be on people meeting people.