Visitors came out in their droves for The Hospitality Show 2013, which enjoyed a successful run at the NEC in January, proving it takes more than snow to stop serious buyers in their search for new products and inspiration – as John Legg discovers.

For many visitors to the show, it has to be said that the culinary end of the hospitality sector was the main reason to attend. With the neighbouring show Interiors UK doing its contract furniture offering, in truth, interiors was never going to be the strongest element at the show.

Of the group that did exhibit, most professed to have been satisfied with the turn out. All the furniture and interiors stands were of modest size, but all had new products to look at or were at least worthy of re-visiting.

“It’s extremely heartening that despite the difficult weather conditions, the industry came out in force yet again to support The Hospitality Show. I would like to thank everyone involved for their determination and dedication to making the show such a fantastic success.”

Toby Wand, managing director at Fresh Montgomery

Andy Thornton’s now famous ceiling was displayed on the back of its stand and used as a wall feature, in a rustic rubbed white finish. Bar and cafe tables and chairs made up the small offer on show.

Pekalp’s stand was busier, with a fuller product offer. The London-based contract upholstered furniture manufacturer offers a bespoke service which attracted a lot of attention, but the company’s standard offer is comprehensive, well price-pointed and with some nice designer pieces on offer too.

German seating manufacturer GO IN’s presence was safe and sensible, but the company’s new catalogue – a hefty 450 pages of it – demonstrates its impressive capability and breadth of offer. The auspicious Red Dot Design Awards last year picked out GO IN’s Quorum chair as a 2012 winner, and several iterations of this model were on display and were warmly received.

Hotel Contract Interiors was showing on a tiny stand, but it clearly packed a punch as it was very busy each time I passed by. It was clear to see this cost-conscious supplier has worked with some of the key hospitality players and those queuing with me to speak to the lone individual running the stand, were of similar ilk too. A key product of interest were the new wood-effect chairs which were a popular line for many suppliers.

In general, exhibitors appeared impressed with the quality and quantity of visitors, despite the widespread snow and ice up and down the country. The show, encompassing the UK’s premier chef competition, Salon Culinaire, buzzed with excitement on each of its three days, and visitors were rewarded with high quality content, and the chance to see new products demonstrated by over 300 exhibitors.

An honest, no-holds-barred interview with Antony Worrall Thompson provided a show-stopping highlight on day one while across the three days, an impressive line-up of speakers and business leaders graced the Business Briefing and Design Inspiration stages and the HOSPA Technology Hub.

Contributors included Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell, rising star Luke Thomas, Giles Robinson of architect Foster & Partners, Pret A Manger’s Nick Sandler and founding director of Pied à Terre and star of BBC’s The Restaurant, David Moore.

Many of the speakers were also on hand for free, one-to-one business mentoring sessions with visitors, a unique aspect, setting the show apart. Each session was fully subscribed, with many mentors requiring waiting lists due to the sheer weight of interest.

Toby Wand, managing director at Fresh Montgomery commented: “It’s extremely heartening that despite the difficult weather conditions, the industry came out in force yet again to support The Hospitality Show. I would like to thank everyone involved for their determination and dedication to making the show such a fantastic success.”