ScotHot: A Spotlight on all the big issues

Expert speakers offer their insight on STA’s Spotlight Stage

Spotlight Stage

GENERATING profit from local produce, best practice in recruitment and managing mental health in hospitality businesses are among the topics that will be illuminated at this year’s ScotHot.

Organised by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the Spotlight Stage is the section of the show where the industry’s big issues are discussed, and the 2019 event will be no exception, with speakers from across the industry lined up to talk about a wide range of topics.

This year’s discussions will be opened by cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing MSP on Wednesday March 13, before Ewing joins a panel of guests, including James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink and STA chief executive Marc Crothall, to discuss the revenue that can be generated from sourcing produce locally.

Businesses are built on their people and at such a critical time for the hospitality industry, staffing will be the next subject on the agenda.

With political and economic issues casting a shadow over recruitment, panellists including Calum Ross, owner of the Loch Melfort Hotel and chair of UK Hospitality Scotland, and Jo Graham, managing director of training provider The Whisky Ambassador, will review the current and future staffing issues as Brexit looms large.

Food and drinks branding specialist, Dr Mark Fowlestone, will then examine how marketing can be used by brands to create favourable impressions with increasingly discerning customers.

Spotlight stage

And staying in that vein, operators will be given advice on how to make TripAdvisor work for them in the following session from Justin Reid, a director of destination marketing at the site.

The first day of the Spotlight Stage will then conclude with ‘Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork’, a gameshow-style panel where three couples from Scotland’s hospitality sector, including Fiona and Stephen Leckie, owners of the Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, discuss the secrets of their success.

Thursday March 14 begins with a presentation from Lesley Ann Gray of consumer research firm Kantar Worldpanel, who will look at the factors with the potential to disrupt the hospitality industry in 2019, before a talk from Inapub’s Barrie Poulter on social media.

There’s been a concerted effort to tackle mental health issues in the workplace in recent years, including in the on-trade, and that’s reflected in the next session.

The event will deliver ‘do not miss’ insights to anyone aspiring to succeed in hospitality.

Former broadcaster Stephen Jardine will moderate a discussion between Gordon McIntyre, associate dean – hospitality and tourism at City of Glasgow College, restaurant operator Giovanna Eusebi and Gary MacDonald, mental health community partner for the Department for Work and Pensions, as they examine why mental health problems are common in the industry and what can be done to tackle them.

Sustainability then comes to the fore as the Spotlight Stage concludes for 2019, with Richard Swannel of charity Wrap UK examining how firms can reduce food waste and damage to the environment.

Crothall at the STA said the event will “deliver ‘do not miss’ insights and inspiration for tourism business owners, industry leaders, senior and middle management, suppliers to the industry and anyone aspiring to succeed in hospitality and tourism”.