I remember my first boss in the business telling me that “clean toilets and sandwiches that aren’t all dried up and curly” go a long way to making a contented visitor. Perhaps that’s a bit basic in today’s demanding times where visitor expectations at events are fuelled by their experience as cossetted consumers in our customer focused world.
However, when organisers review their show’s performance year-on-year, as all good organisers do, is enough thought put into the catering offer - because it’s amazing what good exhibition caterers can do if you only ask them - or is it an after-thought?
At an industry panel discussion a few years back, the audience of organisers were asked to vote on what they believed to be the most important aspects of the catering offer at their event; they were given a menu of options to rate (pun intended) – and guess what, quality came out top.
But did they really mean it? I doubt it. They actually meant quality at a price that compares with Tesco and that’s never going to happen, because the catering model for an exhibition venue has far more variables and uncertainties than your average high street.
So, if we want to get real, itis quality that counts, and most importantly, quality coupled with the best fit for your audience profile. This is where top caterers like Amadeus at the NEC can truly deliver what you really need - a service and offering that matches your event profile.
In-house caterers with extensive experience across a diverse range of events will quickly be able to understand what options will work best for organisers and their exhibitors and visitors. They are also an integral part of the venue team and as such can see the big picture, get the detail, and fully understand an organiser’s longer term ambitions.
For brand new shows where data may be unknown, research and CRM teams can add value to the offer with their own insight too.
We are fortunate at the NEC that in addition to a broad knowledge of exhibition and live event catering, the Amadeus team also manages and operates external venues and events as diverse as Cadbury World and the Scottish Open Golf Championship; such a diverse portfolio means that they can continue to bring fresh and innovative ideas to the party which can add real value and help you exceed customer expectation.
So, engage early, share your understanding of your customers and give the caterers a challenge – they will deliver. There may be a price premium, but I believe exhibition goers will pay for quality; let’s consign the curly sandwich notion to the bin where it belongs.
Steve Richards, NEC Sales Director