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What a week! After 18 months of cancellations, postponements and virtual shows, we finally got back under the same roof for a packed week of industry events.

Not that we needed it, but the last week has been a reminder of how close and supportive the foodservice industry is. I’ve watched as friends and colleagues have reconnected. I’ve seen people ‘off-screen’ and face-to-face for the first time in month. I’ve toasted absent friends, celebrated successes and chewed the fat about what has been a challenging time for so many.

It all started at the Commercial Kitchen Show at ExCeL London last Thursday and it ended with H2O’s National Burger Awards and StrEAT Food Awards over two nights at London Shenley Club, although personal circumstances meant I wasn’t able to make the latter of those unfortunately. There was also Lunch! and the Casual Dining Show (co-located with CKS) and the Restaurant Show for those that made it. A busy but fantastic week of client activity and – most importantly –  human interaction, thanks to the excellent COVID-safe arrangements put in place by all the organisers and venues.

After the thrill of getting back into exhibition halls, I thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase some of the things I do at events, particularly in support of Proactive clients to help maximise their exposure. Here are six things I’ve been up to over the last week:

  1. Visiting clients on stand. I saw clients including Unox, Filta Group and the Master Chefs of Great Britain who were all exhibiting at the Commercial Kitchen Show. I also met with other clients who weren’t showcasing their products and solutions, but who took the opportunity to get out to what was one of the first major shows to be held in our industry since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  2. Creating video content. It’s increasingly important for brands to include video content in their digital and social media strategies, which is why I’ve been taking the opportunity to develop a series of vox pops, testimonials and branding videos for clients. I spent most of the first day at CKS with a videographer – looking forward to sharing the results!
  3. Press visits. One of the main benefits of events is the opportunity to bring together editors and clients by organising press visits to the stand. Shows like this give a unique opportunity for editors to visit brands when they’re all in one place and this is undoubtedly one of the things we’ve missed most in the last 18 months. It was fantastic to reconnect with plenty of old faces.
  4. Product awards. Always a fantastic opportunity for brands to promote their new products, this year I was supporting Unox and Filta as they both secured gold in the Innovation Challenge.
  5. Keynote speakers. I also took the opportunity to watch as many of the keynote speakers and panel discussions as possible, including a chance to catch up with my old friend Ben Bartlett MCGB.
  6. Awards dinner. The first evening of the Commercial Kitchen Show was also the FEJ Awards, which I was delighted to attend as a guest of Diversified. Unox and Filta were both shortlisted for supplier awards and it was fantastic to see Unox (which was also sponsor of the Menu and Innovation Category) pick up the award for Supplier of Year for New Product Development.

Follow me on LinkedIn for more profile-raising ideas and experiences from across our industry.