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HoReCa boom: What is affecting the market? Interview with Thomas Kastl

Nov 28, 2019

Hotels and restaurants are expecting good times ahead. New restaurants are opening one after another in international hotspots such as London, Mumbai and San Francisco. The hospitality sector in Asia is being stimulated by global events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Thomas Kastl, head of Dining, explains how the expectations of guests towards hosts have been changing due to the international boom in the HoReCa segment – and what makes Ambiente, the world's leading trade fair, a unique HoReCa marketplace to leverage this potential.

Interviewee Thomas Kastl, Head of Dining

Thomas Kastl, head of Dining
Thomas Kastl, head of Dining

The hospitality sector is booming: according to the latest report by PwC Strategy&, the global restaurant market saw a turnover of US$ 1.6 billion in 2018. By 2022 this growth is set to increase by over a third, and the turnover in the entire food service sector is actually set to double. The hotel industry is also pleased with their growth: the data experts STR have reported that the global number of rooms has grown by 17.7% in the last ten years. According to IPK International, the tourism sector can look back to a global turnover increase of a solid 8%. Are you surprised by these figures?

Thomas Kastl: There are obviously great times ahead for the HoReCa sector – and also challenges. Restaurants and hotels must be prepared to tap into all this potential. When demand is high, there is a lot of competition, resulting in higher guest expectations. These figures don’t surprise me. As the world’s leading trade fair, it’s our job to read the mood of the industry. We realised a long time ago that the HoReCa sector has major potential for growth, and so we’ve been steadily expanding our hospitality expertise. Ambiente now has a clear USP in the HoReCa business, and this will become even more significant with the opening of the new HoReCa Hall 6.0. Ambiente is the leading international platform for the front-of-house business – a segment which is almost negligible at other HoReCa events. At the same time, the figures are telling us one thing, in particular: throughout the world, the hospitality sector keeps growing. This makes it even more important to look closely at the front-of-house area, not just first-hand, but from as many global perspectives as possible. This global view of trends and developments in the front-of-house area is precisely the focus of the HoReCa Academy. It also explains why our line-up of speakers is international and includes top speakers from Germany, France, the UK, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the United States.

Is this position which you just described mainly due to the internationalism of HoReCa at Ambiente and its global leadership role in Dining as a product group?

Thomas Kastl: Yes, but not exclusively. Looking at all our product groups, the front-of-house role of Ambiente is actually more than just an interface between hospitality and tableware. This is made possible by numerous HoReCa suppliers, but also by a growing number of contract business suppliers in Living and Giving. Whether it’s chefs, decision-makers from the hotel and catering industry, professional buyers, designers, incl. interior designers, or restaurateurs, HoReCa buyers who come to Ambiente receive plenty of inspiration – and in fact not just in the selection of tableware. A vast number of good ideas for a unique front-of-house design are also offered by lifestyle collections in furniture, home accessories, lighting and textiles. This high-quality combination can only be found at Ambiente in Frankfurt. A listing of exhibitors specialising in hospitality and contract business solutions can be found in the Contract & HoReCa Guide, which can be picked up at various places at the event and provides details of specialist companies and where to find them. Also, our online search function makes it possible to find exactly the right suppliers even before Ambiente.

The new Hall 6.0 with its wide range of product categories will enable visitors to think outside the box. After all, the guest experience starts with unusual menus and innovative table lighting. Whether it’s chafing dishes, linen serviettes, table runners, menus or staff uniforms, the hall offers trade visitors a consolidated additional range of HoReCa products.

You said the hospitality and catering boom also presents various challenges. In what way?

Thomas Kastl: When people eat out a lot more, they do so because they’re hungry – not just for food, but also for positive experiences. The same is true for travelling. Earlier on I mentioned a few figures, but, according to IPK, the year 2018 also saw an increase in average travel times and travel expenses. This means that hotels and the restaurant trade are heading for growth throughout the world, yet they’re also very much in competition with one another. People are getting around more and more and are experiencing best practices that they really enjoy. This increases their expectations – not just in the high-end segment but also in casual dining. Here, too, there’s a considerable hunger for an environment that makes a statement. What’s the purpose of the overall design? What kind of values is it meant to express? Which hospitality trends is it responding to? What makes a hotel or restaurant a unique place to go? Tableware is the canvas for such stories, making signature dishes come alive, and also telling the story and showing the general attitude and unmistakeable something of the overall design. Most importantly, the right choice shows that a restaurant or hotel has understood the trends of today.

Can you give any examples of how tableware enables storytelling and encapsulates responses to dining trends?

Thomas Kastl: Tableware is part of the red thread that leads a guest through the general hospitality setup of a hotel or restaurant. If a restaurant stands for regional home cooking, then an organic design can make people feel that they’re slowing down even in the midst of a big city. One example is the Vago collection of our exhibitor Bonna. Each item in this series gives the impression that it has been uniquely crafted, underlining a feeling of homeliness, warmth and authenticity, yet without neglecting the most important requirements of HoReCa tableware: stackability, durability and versatility.

The right choice can also reflect a certain cultural understanding of the created environment. Particularly in China, Russia, and the rapidly developing hospitality market of the Middle East, an emotive guest experience often combines with luxurious tableware. The Orsay collection of the French exhibitor Deshoulières exemplifies the golden décor of such a distinguished stage.

Whether it’s the social media post of a local guest at a new street food bistro or a guest at a five-star hotel who enjoys premium catering several times a year – an experience only becomes unmistakable if it’s unique. The magic word of the HoReCa sector is bespoke. The demand for bespoke products, particularly in the premium segment, is extremely high, including small details such as the chef’s fingerprint as a design feature on the plate, or carafes and multilevel bowls made to look like the unconventional façade of the hotel.

So is this what HoReCa decision-makers expect from a supplier: an unmistakable design which tangibly demonstrates the unique general design of a hotel or restaurant?

Thomas Kastl: This is the challenge for manufacturers whose structures are geared towards supplying hotels, restaurants or catering companies who want to see more than just original ideas and a design with a wow effect. Then there are functional aspects, which are just as important in the HoReCa sector. Day by day large numbers of people want to be served in different venues and with different preferences. HoReCa dining products need to be stackable space savers that are versatile to use, while also meeting premium quality requirements in terms of use, care, cleaning, etc. Expectations are high – both on the design and on the quality and functionality of a product. One item that unites an unusual design and HoReCa quality demands particularly well is the Medusa bowl exhibited by Zieher. The organically shaped bowl looks like a sea creature whose tentacles involved several stages of craftsmanship. Delicate, surprising, extravagantly presented, yet nevertheless made from solid stainless steel – true to the motto: “robust yet delicate”.

6. Why is Ambiente exactly the right place to leverage this potential?

Thomas Kastl: The HoReCa sector has never been so vibrant. There is so much potential, but also so many minute details which are vital in leveraging this potential through one’s overall design. This is why it’s so important to have a personal exchange of ideas between HoReCa decision-makers, on the one hand, and international manufacturers supplying hospitality and catering businesses, on the other. Conversations are vital for a personal two-way exchange in areas where sensitivity is required – particularly when it’s about smart ideas that express the uniqueness of a restaurant or a hotel as well as clear expectations of quality. The exchange of ideas is needed to choose those specific items that genuinely reflect the heart and soul of one’s own design and which satisfy the hunger of one’s guests for a positive experience. And it’s only on site that a caterer can use all five senses and therefore assess the practical benefit of a product. Our new Hall 6.0 will make an active contribution to the HoReCa boom, as it gives this segment more space and enables us, as the world’s leading trade fair for consumer goods, to underline our position as the most important international HoReCa trading platform for everything that matters in the front-of-house area.

The next Ambiente will be held from 7 to 11 February 2020.

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Ambiente – a leading international trade fair

Ambiente is the leading international trade fair and the world’s number one in products associated with dining, cooking, household items, furnishings and ornaments, interior design, gifts, jewellery and fashion accessories. From Ambiente 2020 onwards Hall 6.0 will be added as a dedicated Dining area that concentrates entirely on exhibitors in the HoReCa sector (hotels, restaurants and catering). An entire hall level, offering an additional, highly focused product line-up will therefore be occupied by this industry. Ambiente is “The Show” for the entire industry. The breadth and width of its unrivalled product range make Ambiente unique throughout the world. Ambiente 2019 featured 4,460 exhibitors from 92 countries, attracted 136,081 trade visitors from 167 countries and presented classic and innovative products over a period of five days. Moreover, this most important global consumer goods exhibition offers a wide range of industry events, programmes for newcomers, trend presentations and award ceremonies.

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