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Eat, drink and eat

Peter Heath, founder, Venue Performance, advises venues to look again at their f&b as appetites grow

As we enter the festive month, I am confident that we will see a return of most, if not all, end-of-year celebrations, with the work from home trend continuing to contribute to events business as colleagues gather to strategise and bond.

This desire to meet face to face continues to be a factor in the sector, with some pent-up demand yet to be spent following the end of pandemic restrictions. We are still not over the thrill of human contact and this is driving both leisure and business gatherings.

I expect this to continue into 2024, which should see strong results in the sector, although some caution remains. There is pressure on both supply and demand, as those work-from-home trends keep people away from venues on Mondays and Fridays and ongoing inflation and high interest rates add pause to booking considerations.

Venues too are affected by high costs and this is likely to continue into the new year, as, despite some easing in the rate of inflation, food price inflation persists and there are some fears around fuel bills in the chill winter months.

While people are eager to meet, they are demanding in their requirements. It is not enough merely to provide a location, the experience must be exceptional. The time spent apart has raised expectations to levels not seen before the pandemic and this has combined with the requirement for value to mean that venues must deliver or face the consequences; be that complaints or choosing alternate venues for future events.

F&B remains an area of interest, with hotels reporting that conferencing and banqueting have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. The appetite for remarkable experiences extends into food and the usual conference fare of repurposed food from the dinner service the night before is no longer cutting it for conference attendees.

The high street is currently offering a broad and inspiring array of options, leaving events guests disappointed in comparison. Hotels are missing a trick by not keeping abreast of trends and allowing their offering to fall behind. With the cost of the kitchen already accounted for by the properties’ overnight guests, conferencing and banqueting gives a hotel the chance to drive profit - and to stand out.


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