Post-Covid, restaurants, hotels and caterers are racing to upgrade

The Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped the Hotel Restaurant and Catering industry (Horeca) in its tracks, but Koelnmesse MD and VP Asia-Pacific, Mathias Kuepper, believes it has also acted “as a kind of accelerator” for the sector at the same time. 

Speaking in Bangkok at the launch of the combined Thaifex – Horec Asia trade exhibition scheduled for Thailand next March, Kuepper said restaurants “are making up for lost time” as the world moves into the post-pandemic era.

“We see a lot of investments now into modernising and upgrading.”

A key trend he highlighted was the embracing of sustainable business practices throughout the industry – something also on show at this week’s Thaifex Anuga Asia trade show.  Attracting more than 3000 FMCG manufacturers, equipment suppliers, beverage brands and other industry players from 43 countries at Bangkok’s Impact Muang Thong Thani exhibition centre Thaifex is the largest edition of the 19 since the event was launched.

“The number one trend now is sustainability. That is going into all areas of the hotel industry, the tourism industry. We learned from the Sustainability Report that 83 per cent of respondents say sustainability is vital when they make their decision to travel. 

“During the pandemic, this has become more so. So there’s really a huge opportunity for hotels, and for restaurants, to show that they are taking this seriously by investing in sustainability.”

An example of the way the sector is embracing the sustainability trend is contactless interaction between restaurant or hotel staff and customers to improve hygiene – a trend driven by the pandemic. 

“Here we see a lot of emerging trends which are going into all the areas. For example, mobile check-ins, customised room settings, and voice-controlled entertainment. There are really limitless opportunities, including in greeting guests, cooking, serving, cleaning dishes, and assisting with payments. [There are] a lot of opportunities for the hotel and restaurant industry to invest in this technology.”

Thaifex Horec Asia is scheduled for March 6-8 next year and is expected to feature more than 300 brands serving the industry. Some 20,000 trade visitors are expected to attend from all over Southeast Asia. Horeca is estimated by Koelnmesse to be a US$2.38 trillion global industry by 2028, its growth fuelled significantly by the rising disposable income throughout Asia.   

The event is being organised by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), and global events company Koelnmesse, of Germany. 

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