With hundreds of exhibitors, numerous seminars, conferences, and live displays, there's a bewildering amount going on at Hotelympia 2012. To help you sort the best from the rest we've compiled 20 things you can't afford to miss.
Stay on the cutting edge of hospitality products at the Innovation Awards
5pm, 27 February, The Stage
Featuring six finalists in each of the four categories - food and drink, catering equipment, interiors and technology - the awards provide a platform for novel product launches in the hospitality industry.
In a change from the inaugural 2010 awards, finalists will have to pitch their products behind closed doors - Dragons' Den style - to a panel of hospitality industry leaders and product gurus. Visitors will be able to view all 24 finalists in the central boulevard throughout the five days, before the winners are announced on The Stage at 5pm on 27 February.
Live and cookin'
The Craft Guild of Chefs' Skillery offers five action-packed days of 40-minute demos and masterclasses headed up by leading pan-industry chefs, such as the Dorchester and Marriott County Hall hotels' executive chefs Henry Brosi and Christoper Basten and L'Anima chef-patron Francesco Mazzei.
There is something to cater for every interest, be it glacé cherries, recipes for dementia, regional recipes from dairy specialist Pritchitts' 2012 calendar, guinea fowl, gluten-free solutions, bangers, Sri Lankan cuisine, soup, or chocolate.
Some sessions tie in with new or established prize competitions from sponsoring suppliers, including the Schwartz for Chef Flavour Pairing Challenge, Mövenpick's Gourmet Dessert Chef of the Year competition, and the new Back to the Future Challenge highlighting sustainable menus from CH&Co food director David Cavalier and the Footprints Awards 2012 organiser.
For the full schedule see www.hotelympia.com
See the winner of Hotelympia's inaugural Design Award
3pm, 27 February, The Stage
The nationwide search for the UK's most outstanding hotel suite reaches its finale at Hotelympia. Whittled down to a shortlist of three, the finalists are the Royal Suite at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, the Royal Suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (both in London) and Pavilion Number One at Lime Wood hotel in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Each of the finalists will present their hotel interiors to the audience before one is crowned as the country's most elegant suite.
The winner will be announced on The Stage at 3pm on 27 February.
improve your wine knowledge
Whether you know your vintages inside out, or are new to the vast world of wine, the Wine+ Theatre will have a seminar for you. Beginners can pick up vital tips at the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust's (WSET's) Introduction to Food & Wine Pairing (12 noon, 26 February), while even the most knowlegeable of sommeliers might be tempted by Upselling on your Wine List/Benefits of Training (4pm, 26 February and 2pm, 28 February).
Meanwhile Xavier Rousset, co-proprietor of the Michelin-starred London restaurant Texture, will compare, taste and discuss the sparkling wines of four countries (3pm, 27 February). From France's Cremant, to Italy's Prosecco, Spain's Cava and the sparkling wines of England, he will educate delegates on the terroir and the processes that make each of these drinks so distinctive, and the time and the place to serve them all.
Get in training for the Olympics
2pm, 26 February, The Stage
With only five months before the greatest show on earth comes to London, all hospitality businesses should be planning how to make the most of the occasion. It's not only London that stands to benefit; with the eyes of the world on the entire country every operator has the opportunity to make an impression.
For guidance on what others are doing, and practical advice on what you might do, Caterer and Hotelkeeper is hosting a seminar on The Stage entitled Seizing the Olympic Opportunity. On 26 February at 2pm content editor James Stagg (pictured below) will speak to two of our Business Tracker operators to find out how their plans are progressing, while Chris Foy from VisitBritain will offer insight into how the rest of the country can benefit from the games.
Learn to Tweet
3.15pm, 26 February, HOSPA Technology Hub
Has social media passed you by? Do you feel that your competitors are stealing a march on you in cyber-space? Then visit Marketing your Restaurant with Social Media at the HOSPA Technology Hub. Courtesy of John Coupland, owner of social media adviser Networkerplus, learn how the best in the business use Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to ramp up their e-marketing activity.
Give yourself a leg up
Careers in Hospitality
Whether you're just starting out in the industry, or a veteran of a few years ready to make the next step, take advantage of advice and opportunities from 17 of the country's biggest hospitality businesses at Hotelympia's dedicated careers fair, Careers in Hospitality.
Representatives from companies including Marriott Hotels and Resorts and multi-national contract caterer Sodexo will be on hand to offer career guidance to aspiring members of the hospitality industry, from individual face-to-face meetings to seminars aimed at the next generation of talent.
Turn TripAdvisor to your advantage
4pm, 26 February, The Stage
It's the online review site that stirs the most passions among operators. TripAdvisor might be a source of irritation through the odd negative review, but it has the potential to serve as a fantastic marketing tool for your business. At The Stage on 26 February Alistair MacGregor, territory manager at TripAdvisor, will run through online marketing strategies and tools to help reach its 50 million monthly visitors. He will explain how to enhance your TripAdvisor listing, maintain a positive online reputation and how to get more reviews on TripAdvisor.
See into the future
Find out how hotels performed last year, and what's expected in the coming years in HOSPA masterclasses. On 29 February at 2pm Konstanze Auernheimer, director of marketing and analysis at STR Global, will review and analyse last year's hotel industry sales perfomance and trends in Strong Headwinds - 2011 Was A Good Year, But Uncertainty Ahead. Meanwhile, Liz Hall, head of hospitality and leisure research at PricewaterhouseCoopers, will review the latest PwC forecast for the next two years for the UK hotel industry on 1 March from 12 noon to 12.45pm.
The Big Event
6.30pm, 27 February, Westminster Park Plaza
There's only one way to spend Monday evening after a hard day at Hotelympia, and that's at The Big Event. Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner will entertain guests at the gala dinner, which will be held on 27 February at the Westminster Park Plaza.
Charities Hospitality Action and Springboard UK have secured renowned chefs John Campbell, Jason Atherton and William Curley to cook at the fundraiser. Campbell will work with BaxterStorey to create the starter, Atherton will work with Compass Group to create the main course, and Curley will work with Elior to deliver a dessert.
Meanwhile, chef Brian Turner will host a live auction that will include two tickets to see Coldplay at Emirates Stadium on 4 June with full hospitality, donated by Delaware North, and a three-hour John Campbell training session followed by a six-course taster menu for eight people, donated by BaxterStorey.
Also, one lucky chef under 30 will gain a substantial leg-up when the winner of the Hot Talent Award scheme is announced, offering the prize of individual mentoring by Alan Murchison, CEO of the 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group, and Ben Spalding, head chef at London's Roganic.
For more information or to book tickets, go to www.thebigevent.uk.net
Get on your marks for the Hotelympia 10k run
9.30am, ExCeL London
The opening event of the show, this year's Hotelympia 10k run will feature an improved course and the hallmark post-race brunch, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Places are still available for those who feel fit enough, with stunning views of the Royal Victoria and Royal Albert Docks along the flat race providing suitable compensation for any aching legs. For those who need an extra burst of energy, head along to the pre-race Pasta Party at the London ExCeL Novotel the night before to fuel up for the 9.30am start.
Enter online at hotelympia10k.com Proceeds go to The Springboard Charity - the industry's training and education charity.
Create a Responsible Hospitality Business
1pm, 26 February, The Stage
The Considerate Hotelier's Association's John Firrell, Mark Linehan of the SRA and Rebecca Hawkins of the Responsible Hospitality Partnership offer practical steps to boost your business's sustainability credentials. They will talk through simple steps to ensure you operate both responsibly and profitably, with real life examples and thought-provoking suggestions for operators to follow.
Pay Caterer and Hotelkeeper a visit
Caterer and Hotelkeeper will be exhibiting on stand N2746 at Hotelympia. Make sure you drop by to pick up a copy and visit our journalists, who will be reporting live from the show.
Our experienced team will show you how you can be kept informed of all industry news, innovation and inspiration across all our channels, while you will be able to see that week's issue being compiled live. So if you've a story, or you just want to see how we put together our multimedia offer, then come and say hello.
Get your creative juices flowing
Tableware supplier Villeroy & Boch's stand (N2019) should prove a magnet for any budding artists in the industry. The ceramic specialist is providing a great opportunity for visitors to show off their design skills by creating their own pattern on one of its iconic NewWave plates.
All entries will be uploaded onto Villeroy & Boch's Facebook page and the design with the most votes will win its creator a £250 voucher to dine at one of the 10 in 8 group's restaurants, which include the Michelin-starred L'Ortolan, La Bécasse and Paris House.
Hop aboard the canapE coach
If you're feeling peckish during your trek round the show, why not visit the Compass/Nestlé Professional CHEF pop-up restaurant on Stand S3030 on Tuesday or Wednesday and sample some new canapé recipes devised, cooked and served by Compass students using CHEF stocks and seasonings.
This extension of the Nestlé Toque d'Or culinary contest for student chefs is a showcase for training and development, exposing the students to menu development, budgeting, sourcing, new cooking methods, food prep and delivery.
The tasty bites - oxtail bonbons with fresh horseradish; Thai pork & prawn dim sum; Scandinavian-style turbot, watercress emulsion and spring leaves; and the Brazilian stew-inspired feijoada - also demonstrate a response to emerging industry and consumer trends.
advice on preventing substance abuse
It is no secret that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the industry and, while it can often go unrecognised by managers, the cost - both to the individual and to the profitability and reputation of the company - can be huge.
Ark for Business, a branch of industry charity Hospitality Action, has helped more than 50 hospitality firms manage the risk of substance abuse. Its consultant Ken Crosland (pictured) will be on hand to provide free and confidential help and guidance on the issue.
Find out how to create a climate that will minimise the risk of problems or how to strike the right balance between providing help and upholding standards.
An audience with Ufi Ibrahim
12 noon, 26 February, The Stage
Caterer and Hotelkeeper editor Mark Lewis will be interviewing Ufi Ibrahim on 26 February at The Stage. The British Hospitality Association chief executive will discuss why VAT should be reduced for hospitality and how progress is going with the Treasury. She will also explain how the association is working to minimise red tape for operators and how we can work together to promote British tourism overseas.
Fay Maschler's restaurant secrets
3pm, 28 February, The Stage
Take a seat at The Stage on 28 February to hear the London Evening Standard's restaurant critic Fay Maschler discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of over a quarter of a century in the job.
Learn from the customer's perspective why some restaurants succeed and others fail. Also, as the co-owner of a restaurant consultancy, Maschler will shed light on everything from branding to concepts, sourcing products and pricing. A must for budding restaurateurs.
As you enter the show, look out for four 'junk sculptures' that have been designed to illustrate the variety of waste created by the hospitality industry on a daily basis. The sculptures are made from a range of materials including glass bottles, tin cans, catering equipment parts and disposables. They were commissioned by the Responsible Hospitality Partnership, who tasked students from University College Falmouth to illustrate rubbish as a valuable resource rather than a useless waste product.
Streamlining the mainstream
CaterQuotes - the web-based electronic catalogue and estimating specialist - made its UK debut at Hotelympia in 2010 and returns this year with new time-saving programmes that will further streamline the process of sourcing, specifying and quoting catering equipment.
It now boasts a database of more than 500,000 products from over 500 brands and its subscriber list encompasses manufacturers, consultants, specifiers and dealers.
New for 2012 is an interface that links subscribers' accounting systems to the CaterQuotes programme to instantly convert quotations into posted orders. Similarly, a new computer-aided design (CAD) application will save customers hours by enabling CAD drawings to be converted into instant quotations.
E-mail your comments to Caterer News here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs
Blogs on Catererandhotelkeeper.com
Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our E-newsletters