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Reflecting on #RMI18

I attended the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Summit in January. As an F&B strategist focusing mainly on feasibility studies and concept creation, I have always left the marketing to the professionals. However, the content covered during the two-day forum was much broader than the name suggested and linked many different aspects that we in the industry should focus on, regardless of our job function. By the end of the day, creating a successful restaurant is like conducting a symphony, each member must listen to fellow players.

Day one, curated and moderated by James Hacon, included many interesting topics where marketing was only scratching the surface. In my view, the presentation by Ewan Turney, from England Rugby, was a great example of how other industries use content creation and what we in the hospitality sector should learn from that. I am still surprised how clueless we are in doing something that is so simple yet so rewarding.

Lizzy Barber’s case study on how her team rebranded Haché is something I actually used thereafter in creating one of my client’s concepts. Thinking about the offering as a person and building all the touchpoints around his or her character was brilliant and immediately actionable.

The first day ended with my personal champion Oobah Butler taking the stage to explain how his non-existent restaurant The Shed made it to number one on TripAdvisor, a platform I have rallied against in the past. A slightly crazy chap but, because of his authenticity, he most definitely picked up the energy of the room and left the audience both puzzled and awestruck.

Day two was utterly inspiriting, mostly because Ann Elliott had done such a fantastic job in securing an all-female line-up. Emma Woods, of Wagamama, reminded me of Diane Keaton – fierce, funny and to the point. Mel Marriott, founder of Darwin & Wallace, stole the hearts of the audience with dreamy and elegant images of her bar concepts – that was inspiration 101. The four founding ladies of food startups Chit Chaat Chai, Corazon, Eat Poke and BabaBoom reminded me that doing what you are passionate about really matters, something that keeps slipping the mind when things get tough in the entrepreneurial environment.

I would like to see more hospitality professionals attend this conference in the future. The take-aways are truly relevant for owners, investors, chefs and operators within the F&B space. I am very much looking forward to the next edition.