The hospitality industry is as dynamic as they come, continually evolving to meet the changing needs and expectations of diners. Keeping on top of these trends is one thing, but to lead them is another. OpenTable likes to set the pace, and we did just that at the Hospitality Summit with a host of seasoned restaurant pros sharing their insights.
Here’s what went down.
An A-list of guests in a five-star venue
The 2023 OpenTable Hospitality Summit took place at the stylish Quaglino’s in Mayfair, right in the heart of one of London’s most iconic neighbourhoods. The art-deco inspired restaurant set the tone with its geometric-patterned entryway leading to a mezzanine area overlooking the main dining space where the Hospitality Summit unfolded.
Over 100 restaurateurs from across the UK attended the Hospitality Summit, creating a vibrant community of industry professionals eager to learn, share and connect. The purpose of the summit wasn’t only to discuss the hottest topics of the moment but also to extend OpenTable’s hospitality to the restaurants that make our industry so special.
Setting the agenda
Led by OpenTable Chief Executive Office (CEO) Debby Soo, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Amy Wei and Sr Marketing Manager Jessica Smith, three topics took centre stage during the summit:
- How to recruit, inspire and retain talent
- Protect your business and diners
- Digital marketing and social media
Some of the brightest in the industry, including Trevor Gulliver of St. JOHN, Vivek Singh of The Cinnamon Collection, Jennie Thomson of W Communications and Will Warr of TOPJAW, weighed in with their thoughts and shared first-hand experiences.
How to recruit, inspire and retain talent
Finding – and keeping – top-level talent is one of the industry’s hottest topics right now. As restaurants grapple with labour shortages and supply chain issues, hiring and retention is posing significant challenges.
CRO Amy Wei spearheaded a discussion on this specific theme. She moderated a panel that included industry leaders such as Trevor Gulliver from St. JOHN, Vivek Singh from The Cinnamon Collection, Karina Jadhav from Menagerie, and Gordon Ker from Blacklock, to glean their valuable insights.
Vivek Singh is a big believer in making the industry more inclusive regarding hiring, saying, “Creating a lower threshold of entry, removing barriers and being open and welcoming towards people of all walks of life.”
Gordon Ker was keen to note the importance of creating a culture. Speaking about why it’s so important to build a company into staff training, he said, “Ultimately we’re trying to build a safe environment for you to learn your job before you actually have to do your job”.
At this point, Vivek Singh chimed in, adding, “It’s about understanding what people need and when, and perhaps giving them both the support and the space to do it.”
The panel agreed that equipping employees with the necessary resources to thrive should be a priority in any restaurant’s recruitment strategy, especially in the current hiring landscape.
How to protect your business and diners from hospitality scams
Next up, CEO Debby Soo took to the stage to discuss the rise of phishing scams targeting restaurants. Debby relayed the message that OpenTable will never call a restaurant asking for its password and highlighted the importance of taking a proactive approach to educate restaurants and make them more aware of scams.
How to level up your restaurant’s digital marketing
Titled “Beyond Instagram: How to level up your digital marketing,” Senior Marketing Manager Jessica Smith moderated a panel of industry experts featuring Will Warr of TOPJAW, Jennie Thomson of W Communications, and Mark McCulloch of Hospitality Rising. They shared insights on how restaurants can enhance their digital marketing strategies, with a particular focus on social media.
The discussion was rich with insights and practical advice. Speaking about which channels to use and what to post, Will Warr emphasised the importance of restaurants finding their niche, saying, “There’s so much noise out there so it’s important to come up with something that just works for you, that’s in your tone of voice and your style.”
On the importance of authenticity and how it helps resonate with diners, Jennie Thompson said, “I would also think about what’s unique to your restaurant, what makes you stand out from the crowd and that gives a reason to visit.”
The conversation turned to the role of technology in the hospitality industry, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and the integration of ChatGPT. The panellists talked about how AI impacts their marketing, highlighting it’s useful as a tool for efficiency and even generating ideas while not a full-on replacement for humans.
The Hospitality Summit capped off with a Q&A session with Debby Soo and Amy Wei, focusing on how OpenTable helps restaurants thrive in the present so they can be even better in the future.
After that, there was a spot of networking so OpenTable team members and the restaurant superstars in attendance could rub shoulders and share expertise.
Until next time
The 2023 OpenTable Hospitality Summit was more than just an event; it provided a discussion of ideas and acted as a chance for industry professionals to get-together and focus on the important topics.
As the hospitality landscape continues to evolve, OpenTable remains at the forefront, supporting restaurants with the tools they need to thrive.