Ever wondered what it would be like to attend our one-day flagship event in Leeds called The Conference & Hospitality Show and how to gain maximum benefit? Wait no more, read the wonderful guest blog by Neely Khan
The morning of April 24th was when the most rock “n” roll business and networking event landed in Leeds. With an infectious energy and exhibitors attending from all over the country, it was clear from the get-go that the Conference and Hospitality Show has been turning up the tempo every year.
As a hospitality-focused writer, I enjoyed the show’s ninth appearance from the very start. Whilst the VIP bag, free teetotal G&Ts and modern venue went down an absolute treat, it was the conversations that I had with other industry-experts that truly made my day.
The best thing about the hospitality industry is that it attracts all kinds of exciting, eccentric and adventurous people. And so, events like CHS offer far more than pin-striped suites and corporate sales pitches; they focus on engagement and building real-life relationships.
If you’re in the industry, not only is it a great idea to attend more events like CHS, but to also understand how to make the most out of the day itself. To learn, to connect and of course, to have fun whilst doing it.
Rockstar Rule #1
Ask yourself this, “What is hospitality, defined?”.
You’ll find that the answer is something along the lines of, “The relationship (or more so, the connection) between a host and their guests”.
Our industry is all about people. How we make them feel and of course, how we value them immensely. This is paramount to remember when attending events like CHS.
The key is to take an active interest in all the professionals you’re connecting with. The most fruitful conversations happen in “natural flow”; conversations that are unscripted and don’t have a monetary end-goal in sight.
I had the pleasure of getting to know some remarkable exhibitors on April 24th. A real stand-out for me was Charlotte Felton, Business Development Manager of Bierkeller Entertainment Complex. Amidst all the friendly banter, we shared valuable business insights and immediately planned to catch up again in the future.
Charlotte described the company’s easy-going approach to guest-interaction and how “fun” (and perhaps, beer) is at the heart of all their services and events. An ethos you won’t find many people arguing with, that’s for sure.
Rockstar Rule #2
If you’ve attended as many networking events and shows as I have, you’ll have probably heard this ample times too: “Don’t forget your business cards!”.
Sound advice. Because, yes, business cards are important. But there’s little point in cramming your pockets with dozens of them, only to return home and not even remember who they belong to. To reiterate Rockstar Rule #1, hospitality is all about people.
When you take the time to remember the “little things” about people, then you’re already onto a winner. Think about the number of occasions when you’ve strolled into your favourite coffee shop and the barista has started preparing your order without you even having to ask- doesn’t that make you feel special?
Naturally, as there were so many exciting businesses and professionals in the room at the last CHS event, I wanted to engage with as many of them as possible. So, staying true to my writer-roots, I made a branded ballpoint pen my secret weapon and scribbled notes onto every business card that I collected (note, I only collected them after a conversation). Life became a lot easier when I later contacted all the wonderful contacts I’d made at the event via email.
For example, Joanne Beames, Director of JG Collection had the most beautifully distinct accent and a love for independent hotels that is second to none. And the representatives of Bow Gifts gifted me with an extra bottle of teetotal Cuba Libre (from The Temperance Spirit Company) because I’d told them that it was my birthday that day.
I was lucky, because every person I had the chance to speak to at the Conference and Hospitality Show was an absolute delight. In fact, forming a connection with them almost felt instinctive.
Rockstar Rule #3
You’ve enjoyed meeting like-minded professionals, made valuable contacts and perhaps even discussed potential collaborations. The end of the event is a great opportunity for you to personally thank the event organisers for their hard work and hospitality. As effortless as they may seem, Rockstar events like CHS are not always simple to pull off.
Not only will you be appreciated for your good manners, a face-to-face conversation with influential event organisers is a clever way to learn more about the industry and get a heads-up about any future events.
A friendly catch-up with Communications Manager of the Conference and Hospitality Show, Julie Phillips made for the perfect end to my day. Despite being rushed off her feet with logistics, people management and generally trying to ensure that the event was running smoothly, she kindly made the time to sit down and speak to me. Passionate about CHS and the value it brings to professionals in the industry, Julie explained how she’s excited to host the tenth show next year- and how we can expect it to be more rock “n” roll than ever. It’s proactive professionals like this who make us proud to be part of the industry.
These simple reminders are a sure-fire way to help you take the hospitality events and networking scene by storm. Have a go by attending more high-end events yourself; and of course, show us exactly what you’ve got at the tenth Conference and Hospitality Show in 2019.
More About Neely
Since her first part-time job as a cocktail waitress, Neely has been drawn to the world of food, drink and hospitality.
Alongside her academic study of English Language and Literature in Cambridge, Neely continued to work at several restaurants, bars and hotels, both as a professional front-of-house server, and trainer. After learning about the industry, Neely fully embodied what she now refers to as a “client-first approach”; and has since, adopted it into every aspect of her work.
Following University, Neely spent four years studying etymology (the history of the English language), became a qualified EFL teacher and further honed her skills in writing- a hobby that she’s dedicated most of her life to.
In 2016, Neely decided to combine her love for writing and hospitality and set up as a self-employed content writer and blogger. She is currently based in Birmingham and works with clients worldwide from the hospitality industry, and those who represent luxury brands.
As an academic and self-proclaimed “bibliophile”, Neely takes a journalistic approach with all her projects and focuses on detail-rich content with an aim to educate her target audience. Most recently, she has travelled to the South of France to research fine wines and cuisine; and has been regularly working in central London, with various high-end clients.
To contact Neely direct, please click here