Igeho 2019: Star chefs, robots, hospitality trends

Published on 11/7/2019 by Christoph Spangenberg

Star chefs and robots, expert round-table discussions and gourmet tours, a new guest fair and about 650 exhibitors. The Swiss hospitality scene is meeting up at Igeho from 16 to 20 November. About 70,000 people from the hotel trade and the catering, take-away and care sectors are expected at Messe Basel. For Corinne Moser, this is her first Igeho as interim exhibition director and her fourth as head of communications. In this interview, she speaks about this year’s highlights, the organisational challenges and the influence of digitisation on the sector.

Corinne, the trade fair will be starting shortly. What is the mood like?

The mood is tense but good, as is always the case just before the start of the fair. The whole team is committed to a successful Igeho, displaying a great deal of enthusiasm and passion. In the sales team, the top priority is ensuring that the exhibitors are satisfied. We have to fulfil their last wishes and find creative solutions to unconventional concerns too – whether by e-mail, by phone or directly on-the-spot during the assembly phase. As far as communication is concerned, we do everything to promote eager anticipation of the fair within the industry. And I think we are managing that very well. It’s now time for things to get going at last!

What’s new at Igeho this year?

The guest fair DRINKafFAIR is being held at Igeho for the first time. As a specialist fair for spirits, this is aimed at the entire bar and nightlife scene. With DRINKafFAIR, we are selectively extending our exhibitor and visitor target groups. Our exhibitors continue to be the most important element of a successful Igeho. They are the people who present products and services and launch trends.

The “Robolution” live-experience show will also be exciting. This presents the many different uses for robots, such as Pepper and Heasy, in the hospitality industry.

Our gourmet tours are also new. On the “Classic Igeho Tour”, participants visit five restaurants in Basel to indulge their palates, while "UrbanCoffee Igeho” acquaints participants with the 400-year history of Basel’s coffee culture.

What are the highlights at Igeho this time?

The Igeho Campus powered by HotellerieSuisse is supplying concentrated knowledge and a great deal of inspiration in the form of impulse lectures and round table discussions. Which trends offer added value? How do I make my company fit for the future? What is important for the guests and employees of tomorrow? These are just three of many exciting topics that our experts will be taking up. A lounge is being provided where visitors can engage in discussions with speakers and colleagues from the industry.

In the Chefs’ Arena, star chefs and young talents let visitors take a look inside their pans and disclose their personal recipes for success. This year, we are looking forward in particular to the culinary artists Tanja Grandits (Stucki, Basel), Tim Raue (Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin) and Patrick Mahler (Focus, Vitznau).

Our other highlights include the Restaurant CH, the U21 programme for next-generation professionals, the Food Truck Area, the Newcomer's Area, the Spa Competence section and, naturally, DRINKafFAIR.

How important is Igeho for the sector?

Igeho is and will remain the most important meeting point for the hospitality sector in Switzerland. Some 260,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry in Switzerland. And 70,000 of these come to Igeho – a figure that speaks for itself.

Our visitor structure is a more or less precise reflection of the market. Representatives of the big chains come to the fair in the same way as do our female restaurateurs from their country inns. Since Switzerland has five times as many restaurants as hotels, the proportion of restaurateurs predominates. We are particularly pleased that more than two thirds of the visitors are decision-makers in their companies.

With a total of some 650 exhibitors, 187 of whom will be there for the first time, we have a representative range of exhibits, plus numerous highlights and accompanying events.

Numerous international companies are present at Igeho. How important is the Swiss market?

Many companies test their products on the demanding Swiss market before going international – precisely in the coffee field. The Swiss market is naturally also attractive to foreign companies on account of the strong Swiss franc. The share of companies from abroad is stable – we focus primarily on the Swiss market.

What influence is digitisation having on Igeho and the industry?

Hospitality is still a people business where people meet up with one another, smell foods and want to touch products. A virtual coffee has no taste. That makes Igeho, as an industry platform, a must for all market participants in the hospitality sector. We combine analog and digital here.

Digitisation is having a major impact on the sector, in the same way as presumably everywhere else too. We focus on this issue at various points. The Igeho Campus powered by HotellerieSuisse shows how the digital customer journey can be used to achieve greater efficiency and what the Internet of Things will look like in a smart hotel.

A large number of our exhibitors offer digital solutions. Pogastro.com, for example, is a marketing system for restaurants, bars and cafés which addresses guests within a specific time frame and a specific geographic range with appetising online advertising. Yoordi is a programme that guests can use to read the menu, order food and pay without an additional app. The “Too Good To Go” app is dedicated to the avoidance of food waste. Companies can offer food that they no longer need for a low price. At Igeho, “Too Good to Go” is working together with selected exhibitors and partner companies. From Saturday to Tuesday, you can look forward to good food at a low price just before the trade fair closes for the day. I’ve already mentioned the “Robolution” live-experience show.

What are the challenges when it comes to organising a trade fair?

As a trade fair, we reflect the market. Since the market is constantly changing and further developing in the hospitality sector, we have the exciting task of reinventing ourselves prior to each Igeho. Where are we heading for, what are the forthcoming trends? How can we depict this at Igeho? We’re naturally open to ideas from outside too. If someone has a good suggestion and this fits in with our concept, we endeavour to incorporate it in the programme. It is a matter of ensuring that Igeho is the point where supply and demand continue to meet in future too – and that Igeho remains the most relevant rendezvous for the hospitality industry in Switzerland. If we can make a contribution towards Igeho serving as a meeting platform for personal exchanges of information and knowledge, then we have done our job.

You have spent two years working towards this Igeho. What are your jobs once the trade fair starts?

When the trade fair opens its doors, we have to live up to our promise of being the perfect hosts. We ensure that everything runs smoothly in the Hall and are the contacts for all our exhibitors’ concerns. We look after the press, the photographers and those filming and put content on our social media channels. Once the trade fair has started, we conduct discussions and determine how satisfied the customers are.  Every two years, we have a five-day window during which we are the centre of the hospitality world. We have to use this time to the full. Igeho is a people business. This is why we also attend social events held by partners and exhibitors. It can thus happen that we’re still out and about long after the trade fair has closed for the day … being the perfect hosts!

How do you actually measure the success of Igeho?

The number of professional visitors and exhibitors is the first indicator. Apart from that, we are in close contact with all the exhibitors. And, in addition we conduct an independent survey of exhibitors and visitors. Today, success can no longer be defined simply by how much has been sold on the stand. It is possible for part of the business to be initiated or followed up in greater depth afterwards, via Skype and Facetime, etc. We can, however, clearly show that exhibitors experience all the more success the more carefully they plan their trade fair presence and the more personalised the manner in which they invite their guests. Just as important as the invitations and on-the-spot talks is the follow-up given to the contacts forged at the trade fair. 

International Exhibition for Hotels, Catering, Take-away and Care
16 to 20 November 2019
Messe Basel

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Christoph Spangenberg

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