Amadeus innovation exhibition catering

31 August 2017 Ellie Rance

Visitors attending events at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) now have more choice than ever when it comes to choosing where to dine thanks to an innovative catering concept launched by the venue’s caterer, Amadeus.

‘The Edge’ was developed by Amadeus in a bid to transform the in-hall catering offer available at exhibitions and sees four new catering offers bought together under one umbrella brand. The team undertook extensive research into current catering trends and collated visitor feedback on food preferences to help inspire the new customer-driven concepts which include the EvViva Italian restaurant, Made ‘grab and go’ deli, The Oak Kitchen, serving British classics, and the man vs. food themed Butcher and Grill. 

Launched in three of the NEC’s 20 exhibition halls in 2016 (halls 1,3 and 4), The Edge is currently delivering 15% growth in spend per transaction and has contributed to the caterer’s most successful trading year in its 40-year history. Due to its phenomenal success, Amadeus has now launched The Edge in a further four exhibition halls (halls 17-20), with plans to roll out to a further four halls in 2018.

Paul Bate, Amadeus’ General Manager at the NEC, said:

“The NEC hosts over 500 events every year – each and every one of these attracts a different visitor profile. One of our major challenges was working to create an in-hall catering solution that would be popular with a wide range of audiences and demographics.  With the development of The Edge we have raised the bar for exhibition catering across the industry – instead of having a limited range of products to choose from, visitors are now greeted with four fantastic catering concepts with distinctive brand identities that wouldn’t look out of place on today’s high street.”

The development of The Edge represents the biggest investment in catering facilities at the NEC in the venue’s 40-year history, with £3.5m spent on renovating the amenities to date. As part of the upgrade, the catering units were completely redesigned to aid customer flow and wayfinding while also maximising speed of service. Following feedback from customers that there weren’t enough places to sit and eat saw the team increase seating capacity by 30%.

The team has also developed a range of mobile catering units to ensure spikes in exhibition attendance can be catered for. The six individual branded concepts aimed at different visitor profiles also allow Amadeus to tailor the catering offer depending on customer demographic.

Kathryn James, Managing Director, NEC Group Exhibitions and Conferences, said: “Over the last 12 months we have invested heavily in enhancing the customer journey at the NEC. We have analysed each touch point in our venue and understand that not only the choice of refreshments offered, but also the ease of being served, plays a significant part in how people feel about their visit.

“When people come to a show at the NEC they do not want to spend their time in endless queues for food or drink, they want to have their lunch and get back into the hall to enjoy themselves or conduct business, so we reviewed our catering offering to see what we could do to make this part of their day more enjoyable.

“By refreshing our catering offering Amadeus have not only created an aesthetically pleasing brand with quality food, but they have reduced queuing times and created a more comfortable environment to relax in by increasing the amount of covers. If the restaurants are getting extremely busy, Amadeus now also have a greater capacity to flex up their offering with the addition of mobile units which can be tailored to suit the profile of the show. This will have a huge impact on the customer experience.”

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The Edge at the NEC