It's August time and the hospitality industry is already looking towards the festive season. For many businesses it's the busiest time of the year with the most bookings, but possibly the most stress too. With this in mind, our five-part guide guide to Christmas features top tips from industry experts on pulling off a profitable, fun and popular Christmas offering - from putting together a menu to readying your venue for a big festive event.

Planning for Christmas 2014: Enticing customers in

It’s the time of year that the hospitality industry starts putting together its festive plans for Christmas, with a number of bigger venues already taking bookings. BigHospitality is starting our special feature on planning for Christmas with a look at what venues can do to make themselves stand out this festive season, and how they can get the customers in. 

Planning for Christmas 2014: Your Christmas menu

In this second part of our special feature on planning for Christmas we look at the latest trends that have cropped up in the festive food and drink world and gather some expert advice on what to consider when putting together the perfect Christmas menu.

Planning for Christmas 2014: Holding Christmas events

In this third part of our special feature on planning for Christmas we take a look at what exactly goes into planning a Christmas event, with some expert advice on putting together your packages and choosing décor and entertainment. 

With a recognised skills shortage and the continued decline of unemployment, the ever-growing hospitality sector is facing one of its biggest challenges yet. In this feature we examine the reasons causing the sector's recruitment issues, and ways companies can attract candidates, select the right ones and improve staff retention. 

Recruitment: Making hospitality an attractive career option

With the continued growth of the hospitality sector, combined with the lowest unemployment rate since 2008, finding new recruits is set to become more and more challenging. So where can restaurants, hotels and pubs find potential candidates, and what can they do to make the industry an attractive career prospect?

Recruitment: Selecting the right candidates

Once the challenge of attracting applicants has been overcome, hospitality recruiters find themselves with the task of selecting the right candidates for their brand - ultimately aiming for improved staff retention.

Recruitment: Improving staff retention through training and incentives

At 20 per cent, staff turnaround in hospitality is one of the highest in the UK. Though this is an improvement on the 30 per cent recorded in 2008, continued retention efforts are needed to relieve the sector’s recruitment burden.

With consumers craving an 'experience', design is an increasingly important factor for any successful bar, restaurant or hotel. In this special feature we look at the trends driving hotel design, share expert tips on designing or redesigning a restaurant or bar, and look at the changing world of tableware.

Design: Restaurant design trends for 2014

In the first part of our special feature, we look at how restaurant design is finally moving away from American-inspired industrial chic and reflect on the next big trends for 2014.

Design: Balancing aesthetics and efficiency

In the second part of our special feature on design, BigHospitality looks at how clever use of space and furniture can ensure a restaurant or bar delivers the right balance of aesthetics and efficiency.

Design: Top 5 trends influencing hotel design

In the third part of our special feature on design, we look at the top five trends influencing hotel design in 2014.

A reduction in habitual mid-week drinking has hit traditional alcohol sales of late, with consumers concentrating their alcohol spend on food-led occasions and ‘the big night out’. In our special report, BigHospitality looks at how this has affected trends and innovation across the beer, cider, wine and spirits categories, with some top tips on how to maximise sales.

Alcoholic drinks: Beer trends and innovations

In the first part of our special feature on alcoholic drinks we look at the latest trends in the on-trade beer and lager market, which is being boosted by the popularity of craft and worldwide products.

Alcoholic drinks: Cider trends and innovations

In the second part of our special feature on alcoholic drinks we look at the latest trends and innovation in the on-trade cider market, which is out-performing beer and hitting the consumer sweet spot.

Alcoholic drinks: Wine trends and innovations

In the third part of our special feature on alcoholic drinks we look at the key trends driving the wine category, which has faced competition from fruit-based cocktails in the on-trade.

Whether it’s capitalising on coffee culture or making money from mocktails, attending a seminar on tea or buying a new espresso machine, our comprehensive guide to non-alcoholic drinks helps you identify the golden opportunities to increase liquid sales. Pour a glass and drink it all in…

Non-alcoholic drinks: Cashing in on the coffee culture

In the first part of our special series on non-alcoholic beverages, we look at the astronomic rise of coffee culture in the UK and ask how restaurants, bars and hotels can keep up with increasingly high consumer expectations.

Non-alcoholic drinks: Top trends for 2014

The second instalment of our special feature serves up some fresh insight and intelligence with 10 top trends in the vital non-alcoholic drinks arena. 

Non-alcoholic drinks: 10 of the best

If this series of special features hasn't already inspired you to take a closer look at your non-alcoholic drinks offering, this picture guide of 10 of the hottest pieces of kit to help to shake up your liquid sales.

Hospitality technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated with the meteoric rise of mobile transforming the way customers interact with hotels, restaurants and pubs. Here, we look at some of the latest technological developments and explore how operators are using them to revolutionise the customer experience before, during and after their visit. 

Customer-focused technology: High-tech hospitality in action

For the final part of our technology special feature, BigHospitality checked in at one of the country’s most high-tech hotels to bring you an exclusive video report on the business benefits of customer-focused technology.

Customer focused technology: Going mobile

Mobile technology offers the chance to completely revolutionise the customer experience, with clear benefits for business. In the first of this three-part focus on technology in hospitality, we look at the meteoric rise of mobile, and how operators can harness the latest technology to boost bookings.

Customer-focused technology: Smart experiences

In the second of our three-part focus on technology in hospitality, we look at how mobile technology can be used to improve customer experience from the moment they walk in the door.

The kitchen is one of the most important areas of any food business, but when you come to kitting it out with the equipment you need, what do you do if space is limited, or impractical? In our three-part feature series on the subject we speak to those in that situation who faced the challenge head on and get some top tips from operators and equipment providers on how to get the best out of your commercial kitchen. Plus, browse the latest kit in our kitchen equipment photo gallery. 

Equipping your kitchen: The latest products in pictures

From large bespoke oven ranges to small salamander grills, chefs' requirements' for their perfect kitchen are often as varied and fanciful as they are mind-blowingly expensive. But hopefully this picture guide of 15 of the hottest pieces of kit to hit the market will appeal to all tastes and budgets.

Equipping your kitchen: a buyer's guide

How much should I spend? How long should it last? Do I even really need one? These are the questions every chef and restaurant operator will be asking when on the hunt for a new bit of kitchen kit. Here are BigHospitality’s top 15 tips on what to look out for before forking out your hard-earned cash. 

Equipping your kitchen: How to work with the space you've got

In the first of this special feature series, BigHospitality speaks to operators and suppliers to find out how best to equip your restaurant, pub or hotel kitchen, depending on the size you have to work with. 

Following the success of last year's Hospitable Cities feature, we return with part two and study the hospitality markets of three more thriving cities - Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool. 

Hospitable Cities: Spotlight on Liverpool

For years Liverpool was viewed from afar as the second-best city in the North West never mind being a destination in its own right, but in the last few years it has risen like a Liver bird from the flames due in part to its burgeoning hospitality scene.

Hospitable Cities: Spotlight on Leeds

While it doesn’t have the same historical and cultural pull of yesterday’s hospitable city Edinburgh , the North Eastern city of Leeds is nevertheless fast becoming a hospitality hotspot with a growing eating-out market.

Hospitable cities: Spotlight on Edinburgh

What better time to write about the Scottish capital than when the world’s biggest arts festival is in full swing? The Edinburgh Fringe brings in thousands of performers and tourists and its cosmopolitan and bohemian nature encapsulates the city’s year-round hospitality offering. 

Any hospitality operator, new or established, will say that finding finance to start up or grow their business over the last few years has been tough. However, it isn't impossible and many have done so to build up successful businesses. Here we ask experts for their views on the market and for their suggestions on how to be prepared as well as look at a range of different ways - from ploughing your own cash into the business, to securing a bank loan or even turning to crowd-funding - that have been used by successful operators to build their businesses. 

Finding finance in hospitality: New alternatives

So, you’ve been turned away from the bank, run out of deep-pocketed friends and family and aren’t keen on giving away an equity stake in your company. Is all hope of securing finance to develop or expand your business lost? No. There are still plenty of other options to explore, and some of them might actually be more beneficial than the aforementioned alternatives. 

Finding finance in hospitality: Private equity

From Piper Private Equity’s backing of Be At One and more recently Loungers to Graphite Capital’s management buy-out of Hawksmoor, there are private equity (PE) deals to be done in the hospitality industry but are they right for your business?

Finding finance in hospitality: The banks

Most hospitality business owners will agree that bank lending isn’t the same as it used to be. Pre-recession, a budding entrepreneur with a bold idea for a new concept would often be given a blank cheque from the bank manager to support their ambitions. Now, the system has become so complicated that just knowing who to talk to can be a challenge.

Get inspiration for your wine list as some of the UK's top sommeliers and wine consultants share their thoughts on the most exciting wine regions and tell us about their top wine and food pairings. 

Matthew Clark boosts premium offering by adding new agency and boutique wineries

Drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark is aiming to help restaurants, hotels and pubs bring more diversity to their wine lists by adding a number of new agency and boutique wineries to its portfolio. 

Focus on wine: Sommeliers share their restaurant's top food and wine pairings

We've seen which regions are top of the wine list, now to find the food to go with them. Concluding this week's focus on wine, we ask sommeliers to suggest some top wine and food pairings. 

Focus on wine: The most exciting wine regions of 2013

While including popular wines such as a Pinot Grigio from Italy or a Merlot from France on your wine list is a sensible idea, there are times when you might just want to head out of your viticultural comfort zone and add something a little different.

Whether it’s offering a gluten-free menu, catering for customers with nut allergies or providing additional calorie information, our series of articles, guides and multimedia content will guide your business through exactly what’s required in the world of dietary requirements, with all of the details and advice you need to understand how to tap into a potentially lucrative, and widely untouched, marketplace.

Dietary requirements: Catering for the health-conscious diner

Should restaurants be making more of an effort to make menus healthier and more nutritious? In the fourth and final part of our Dietary Requirements feature we look at what the industry is already doing and what it could do to help reduce the nation’s waistline without compromising on taste or quality.

Dietary requirements: Terre à Terre’s top tips

In the third part of our Dietary Requirements special feature, BigHospitality takes a trip to Terre à Terre vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, to find out exactly what it’s like running a venue that is not just continuing to push the boundaries in meat-free cooking, but also aiming to cater for virtually all other dietary needs.

FreeFrom Food Awards raise awareness of dietary requirements

In the same month as our Dietary Requirements special feature, the 2013 FreeFrom Food Awards were held in London last week, celebrating excellence in allergy and intolerance-friendly food and drink from manufacturers and foodservice businesses across the country. 

With alcohol consumption going down and the Budget pushing prices up on wine, cider and spirits up yet again, there is arguably no better time to push the non-alcoholic options in your restaurant, hotel or pub, particularly when the mark-up can be good. Here we look at why you should make your coffee and tea menus more interesting and how to do it, plus, mixologist Tony Conigliaro shows us how to make the perfect mocktail in our exclusive video. 

Non-alcoholic drinks: Making money from mocktails with Tony Conigliaro

In the third part of our special feature on non-alcoholic drinks, BigHospitality sat down with leading mixologist and bar owner Tony Conigliaro for an exclusive video on how to make money from mocktails and to discover some current trends and practical tips and recipes for alcohol-free cocktails. 

Non-alcoholic drinks: Five hot beverage innovations in hospitality

Take five and catch up with the latest innovations in tea and coffee within the industry in the second installment of our focus on non-alcoholic drinks.

Non-alcoholic drinks: How to improve your restaurant's tea and coffee offering

With alcohol consumption going down and the Budget pushing prices up on wine, cider and spirits yet again, there is arguably no better time to push non-alcoholic drinks like tea and coffee. 

In our series of articles on technology, we look at how keeping your finger on the pulse and employing the latest systems at your hotel, restaurant or pub can not only streamline your business, but help improve the experience for your customers before, during and after they visit you. 

Hospitality technology: Behind the scenes of the hotels, restaurants and pubs of the future

In the final part of our series of special articles on technology in hospitality, BigHospitality paid a visit to three of the most high-tech restaurants, hotels and pubs to investigate the business benefits for a special video report.

Hospitality technology: Engaging the customer after departure

When a customer leaves your restaurant, hotel or pub your relationship doesn’t have to end there. Employ the right technology and you’ll not only have them returning, but potentially seeing an improvement to service when they do. 

Hospitality technology: Enhancing the customer’s experience during their visit

The world of technology is, by its very nature, driven by innovation and change. Ordering room service through smartphones, dining with on-table touchscreens and browsing drinks lists on iPads are not visions of the future, they are happening right now. 

Do you know your RevPAR from your EPoS or what you do with a Josper? Find out more about some of the current terms used in the hospitality industry by reading our A-Z guides of restaurants, hotels and pubs and impress your peers with your quick-found knowledge. 

The A-Z of Pubs and Bars

While publicans might not be faced with as baffling a list of acronyms as hoteliers or as driven by fashion as some restaurateurs, our handy A-Z glossary of key industry terms and trends is a must-read for those looking to make a few pounds from a few pints.

The A-Z of Hotels

The hotel sector is awash with acronyms and exclusive terms that can sometimes be confusing. If you don't know your RevPAR from your GDS or you just want a brief overview of the market today, read this handy A-Z guide. 

The A-Z of Restaurants

The restaurant sector is a busy place, full of operators large and small, formal and casual, corporate and independent, high-end and mainstream, which can make it hard to define. Here in our A-Z guide we summarise it in just 26 words, explaining some of the key terms, and exploring some of the current trends, events and issues shaking up the UK dining scene.

As we approach the end of the year we take a look-back at our most-read articles to find out what the hot topics were that got you clicking on and sharing in 2012. Find out what the most popular stories and topics were and read expert analysis of them from some of those responsible for helping make the news by clicking on the articles below. 

BigHospitality's 2012 look-back: Ping-pong and Hotel GB

The fifth and final part of our 2012 look-back featuring our top 10 most-read stories of the year investigates the impact the Channel 4 show Hotel GB had on the industry and asks why the opening of bars with table tennis tables in has seemingly grabbed the industry's attention.

Top 10 most-read BigHospitality stories of 2012

What were this year's hot topics in hospitality? Find out what made the BigHospitality top 10 most-read stories of 2012 in this photo gallery.

BigHospitality's 2012 look-back: The rise of Asian dining and the Michelin Guide 2013

As we move up our most-read list of stories on BigHospitality during 2012 to the top three and four articles of the year, we discuss the topics they approach, namely the rise of Asian dining in the UK and the Michelin Guide, in more detail. 

In recognition of its unprecedented National Restaurant Awards hat-trick, Restaurant magazine spent a day in Brett Graham’s cramped basement kitchen in an attempt to find out what makes The Ledbury the best restaurant in the UK. You can read the exclusive feature here where we have also listed all our articles on the Notting Hill restaurant and its chef-patron Brett Graham.

A day at The Ledbury: In the kitchen of the UK's best restaurant

What is it like working in a two Michelin star, multi award-winning restaurant? In recognition of its unprecedented National Restaurant Awards hat-trick , Restaurant magazine spends a day in Brett Graham's cramped basement kitchen and attempts to unpick what makes the Ledbury the best restaurant in the UK. 

As the saying goes 'Christmas comes but once a year'. This may be a relief to those responsible for catering for Christmas parties and festive events, but it also underlines how you only get one chance to get things right if you want your business to make a positive impression on customers during the festive season. Our four-part guide is designed to arm you with everything you need to succeed this Christmas - from ideas on how to spice up your offering and your food and drink menus to top tips from industry experts on executing the perfect (and stress-free) festive events.

Planning for Christmas 2012: Creating the perfect menu

It doesn't matter how much you've prepared, what events you’re running, or even if you’re thinking of doing something completely different this year, if you want to have yourself a profitable Christmas, the quality and variety of the food and drink you offer is paramount.

Planning for Christmas 2012: How to host the perfect event

As we’ve seen, preparing for the festive season early on is vital if you want it to go smoothly for your business, impress your customers and ultimately keep tills ringing. 

Planning for Christmas 2012: Something a bit different...

What do Elvis Presley, The Mad Hatter and a nautical sailor all have in common? Aside from all being popular choices at a fancy dress party, all three have formed the inspirations for some of the quirkier themes and events that hospitality businesses are running this festive season to make sure Christmas isn’t a turkey.

With hospitality business owners under more pressure to find ways to survive in today's tough economic climate, spending time and money on training could feel like a luxury, but as research shows, to achieve consistency and attract paying customers across a business it is necessary. Here we talk to experts about the importance of training staff and dig out some examples of restaurants, hotels and pubs with successful training schemes already in place. 

Training for consistency: pubs

As is the case with restaurants and hotels , the pub sector is made up of a range of varying sizes of business, from the individually-owned freehold pub employing a handful of staff members, to the multi-site operator with thousands of recruits. 

Training for consistency: hotels

With a hotel’s reputation increasingly made or broken in a single tweet or TripAdvisor review, increased guest expectations and the need to provide as good an F&B offer as any restaurant or bar, staff training is arguably more crucial in hotels than other hospitality businesses.

Training for consistency: restaurants

As those involved in training within hospitality have underlined in our previous article , developing staff can make a difference to consistency within a business, but if you don’t already have a training scheme in place it can be hard to know where to start. 

The current economic climate has made it harder than ever for UK businesses to find the cash to start-up or grow, but there are still ways for hoteliers to refurbish hotel rooms, chefs to buy new kitchen equipment or restaurateurs to build a successful chain. In this four-part feature BigHospitality examines some of the funding options available to the hospitality industry in an attempt to help you find the right type of finance to help you grow your business.

Funding hospitality: Private investment

In the final part of our special feature on securing investment for your hospitality business our focus turns to private investment: from love money courtesy of friends and family to equity houses and venture capital.

Hospitality funding: Specialist lenders

With restaurateurs, hoteliers and publicans finding it harder than ever to get funding from the high street banks to grow their businesses, many have been forced to look elsewhere for finance. 

Funding hospitality: The banks

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur with a bold idea for a new restaurant concept or a successful hotelier with plans to expand an already popular business, there’s one thing you’ll always have in common – a bank account.

We take a look at burgeoning food trends within the eating out sector and ask chefs and other industry experts to predict what they think will be on everyone's plates this year and into next.

Food Trends 2012: Top 10 restaurant predictions

In the fourth and final part of our feature on food trends in 2012 we asked 10 leading chefs, restaurateurs and food critics including Heston Blumenthal, Simon Rogan and Richard Vines for their top tips and predictions on the hot trends to hit restaurants in the next 12 months.

Food trends 2012: Natural & subtle

The ‘Rene Redzepi factor’ is set to take the UK by storm, with an increasing number of chefs and restaurants taking a more natural approach to food, using less meat products and incorporating raw ingredients into dishes. 

Food trends 2012: Asian ascension

Asian food may already be a huge part of the UK restaurant scene, but the world’s largest continent has a lot more to offer. Restaurant magazine's Joe Lutrario looks at the rise in Asian food in the UK and at how some of the less familiar cuisines are set to become much bigger.

As London basks in the glory of the excitement cast by this year’s events, namely the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games, it may seem that the nation’s other cities are left in the shadows. 

However, recent research, along with the number of new hospitality businesses opening, indicates that over the last few years many cities outside the capital have not only started attracting more tourists, but have also seen changes and improvements in their hotel, restaurant and pub and bar offerings.   

In our latest feature we pick five thriving cities to put in the spotlight, picking out some facts and figures and highlighting the most recent hotel, restaurant and pub openings to show what has been happening to explain why we feel they are worthy of being dubbed a ‘hospitable city’.

Hospitable cities: Spotlight on Brighton

In the fifth and final part our hospitable cities feature we head to Brighton on the south coast to explore the hospitality market in this cosmopolitan seaside city.

Hospitable cities: Spotlight on Cardiff

In the fourth part of our UK hospitable cities feature, BigHospitality is turning attention to the only capital city on our list. Cardiff is a major European capital but does the Welsh city have a capital hospitality offering and what is driving growth in its restaurants, hotels and bars?

Hospitable cities: Spotlight on Birmingham

The third part of our hospitable cities feature sees BigHospitality head 80 miles south of Manchester to the thriving city of Birmingham. We take a look at all the facts and figures and explore some of the hospitality businesses which have helped the city stand out from the crowd in recent months.

Recruiting the right staff and then retaining them is notoriously difficult in the hospitality industry, but it isn't impossible. If you're having problems finding suitable talent for vacant positions or keeping hold of them when you do find them, read our three-part guide to recruiting and retaining staff. From where to post vacancies to what to ask in interviews as well as innovative ideas for training and developing people, we aim to provide all the information you need to find and keep a successful hospitality workforce. 

Recruiting and retaining staff: How to develop employees and cut turnover rates

Advertising in all the right places and whittling down prospective candidates for a job can seem wasted if you are forced to dig out the job description again after only a few months. So how can you ensure staff development supports the recruitment process in the hospitality sector with noted low levels of staff retention?

Recruiting and retaining staff: A guide to CVs and interviews

So you’ve advertised a role in your business and the applications are beginning to pour in. But how do you effectively search through stacks of CVs and what questions should you be asking in the interview stage to make sure you’re picking the best person for the job?

Recruiting and retaining staff: How and where to advertise hospitality jobs

What do Gumtree, Twitter, viral web videos and local newspapers have in common? The answer is they have all served as promotional mechanisms for advertisements for hospitality jobs recently.    

While food may be core to a restaurant, hotel and even many pubs’ business today, drink is potentially a greater profit driver.  Offering customers a strong choice and ensuring staff have the knowledge and training to sell it well are essential in successful drinks sales. But if you wish to take it further, why not look more closely at marrying your food and drink options?  In this four-part feature we take a look at the latest trends in liquid and how suggesting different drinks with dishes could not only enhance your customers’ experience but, with the right approach, maximise sales.

Food and drink matching trends: Soft drinks

Alcohol sales are of course an essential revenue generator for most hospitality businesses. But soft drinks, smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and non-alcoholic cocktails could in fact generate even higher margins for more diligent businesses, especially if they are effectively upsold.

Food and drink matching trends: Spirits/Cocktails

As we have seen in previous parts of this feature, food and drink can be a marriage made in heaven for restaurants and pubs. But cocktails, apéritifs and spirits are not products that tend to be associated with food and they are rarely even advertised or upsold.

Food and drink matching trends: Wine

Of all the drinks categories, wine is the most traditional match to food. Wine lists are given out readily with food menus in the vast majority of restaurants and most diners will expect to see one at least integrated into the food menu if not given to them separately. 

A kitchen is at the heart of any business that wants to make food its main focus, so to be able to deliver the best to your customers, it needs to be working efficiently for you and your staff. Here we look at what you can do if your kitchen isn’t performing to its best abilities and present the best options for you depending on your budget. We’ll look at the pros and cons of a total refurbishment versus replacement of one or two key items. Plus, chefs tell us about their favourite pieces of kit in an exclusive video and we round up the latest gadgets for the kitchen in our product guide gallery.

Kitchen Equipment: The latest products in pictures

For the final part of our Kitchen Equipment feature we've found the latest and hottest new products available and rounded them up in this interactive picture guide. 

Kitchen Equipment: Top chefs reveal their must-have kitchen kit

In the latest instalment of our Kitchen Equipment Special Feature we asked chefs working in pub, restaurant and hotel kitchens to tell us the one bit of kit they couldn't live without and we filmed three of them showing us exactly what made the equipment special.

Kitchen Equipment: When its time to replace or invest in key items

Installing a completely new kitchen is great if you have the funds and the time to do it, but for many, a dream kitchen can remain just that.

With the emergence of websites like TripAdvisor and Toptable giving anyone the chance to post reviews of restaurants, hotels and pubs, together with the growth in social networks like Twitter and Facebook, owners of hospitality businesses are finding themselves written about and scrutinised in a way they've never known before. The results aren't always positive, so how can you monitor and deal with negative publicity? Read our five-part feature to find out.

How to manage your hospitality business's online reputation: Your website

In the consumer-led world of hospitality, it is easy to underestimate the power of the internet. But with well over a million Google searches for ‘London hotels’ being made every month in the UK, and an ever-increasing number of restaurant bookings made online, an effective website can be crucial to a business’s success.

How to manage your hospitality business's online reputation: Social media

Social media, like it or not, now plays an integral part in the marketing plans for the majority of restaurants, hotels and pubs , so we’ll presume, if you’re reading this, that you have at least set up a Twitter account and/or a Facebook page to promote your company.

How to manage your hospitality business’s online reputation: Review websites

Review websites can be double-edged sword for businesses. When used successfully, they can turn you into an overnight success. But they can just as easily destroy your reputation, with negative reviews able to spread like wildfire if left unchecked.

PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Organised by Callebaut, Caco Barry and Carma, the World Chocolate Masters saw the best chocolatiers in the world redraw the boundaries of working with chocolate.

The World Chocolate Masters 2011: The competition

The World Chocolate Masters is, by a considerable margin, the world’s most important competition for chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Organised for the fourth time by Cacao Barry, Callebaut and Carma, the competition sees 20 or so contestants work unaided for three days to produce a huge array of chocolate products under the constant scrutiny of a highly qualified judging panel.

The World Chocolate Masters 2011: James Petrie

James Petrie, UK judge and head of creative development at The Fat Duck Group, shares his thoughts on the competition.

The World Chocolate Masters 2011: UK contestant John Costello

The UK’s contestant talks technique, authentic flavours and offers advice on how others can get into advanced chocolate work.

The term 'gastropub' - once a useful descriptor for a serious food pub - has become a catch-all for all manner of places. Now, BigHospitality's sister publication Restaurant magazine has set out to reclaim the term and restore its meaning. In this series of features, read why the term has become so confusing and see which kind of food pub your business really is as Restaurant narrows the sector down to four key categories.

Redefining the gastropub: Definition 4 - the craft pub

The fifth and final part of our feature series, first published in Restaurant magazine, looks at whether a pub serving restaurant-quality food alongside a vast selection of beers would be better described as a 'craft pub' rather than 'food-led' or 'gastropub'.

Redefining the gastropub: Definition 3 - the food-led pub

The fourth part of our feature series, first published in Restaurant magazine, continues to define the term 'gastropub' by looking at whether a pub serving great food would be better describing itself as 'food-led' than 'gastropub'.

Redefining the gastropub: Definition 2 - the bona-fide gastropub

The third part of our feature series, first published in Restaurant magazine, looks at what kind of pub really makes the grade as a 'bona-fide gastropub'.

With just over a year to go before the Olympic Games come to London, it's time to start planning your involvement if you want to make next summer's big event profitable for your business. Our practical four-part Planning for the 2012 Olympics guide aims to provide you with everything you need to make your hospitality business a winner during London 2012 .

Planning for the 2012 Olympics: Staff and training

As McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said ‘You’re only as good as the people you hire’ so if you believe his mantra and want to make sure your business is a winner during next year’s Olympic Games, make sure you read our fourth and final instalment of our feature series which looks at the best ways of training, motivating and getting the best out of your workforce.

Planning for the 2012 Olympics: Transport and deliveries

Hospitality businesses will be amongst the most affected by the transport and logistics changes during the Olympics next year. This article includes a simple break-down of what you should be thinking about to ensure business continuity, together with links to key information to keep your business running.

Planning for the 2012 Olympics: Marketing

Once you’ve made yourself aware of what’s happening during the 2012 London Olympic Games (by reading our first feature in this series) you need to decide how you’re going to use the event to boost your business’s profile.

The British hospitality industry has been through a tumultuous period, as have similar markets across the globe, forcing operators the world over to dream up innovative ways of drawing in customers and operating more efficiently. In this sense there’s much British hospitality operators can learn from their peers both at home and abroad.

Learning from abroad: The industry's observations

In the final part of our inspirational feature series hotel, restaurant and pub and bar experts share some of their observations from hospitality outside of the UK.

Learning from abroad: Pubs and bars

As pubs and bars struggle to cope with alcohol tax rises and red tape, operators who want to do more than simply survive need to come up with new ideas to boost their business. In the third part of this month's feature we take a look at some of the bar and drink trends that are happening outside of the UK to bring some fresh thinking to the sector.

Learning from abroad: Hotels

Many major hotel trends reach our shores after first taking a hold in international markets. In the second part of this month’s feature, BigHospitality takes a look at the latest concepts that have been emerging in hotels abroad.

 

If April’s glorious weather is anything to go by, publicans can expect a fruitful summer this year as drinkers emerge from their living rooms and embrace the long-forgotten pub beer garden. But to make the most of the season, operators should be tapping into what summer drinks consumers may be demanding if they want to maximise their profit margins.

Summer drinks trends: Beer

Local and premium beers will continue to be a priority for consumers this summer, but in order to make the most of sales and appeal to a range of consumer groups, publicans must promote beer as a respectable drink with a diverse history.

Summer drinks trends: Wine

While there are no real new trends emerging this summer in the wine category, there are several areas of growth that restaurant and pub operators need to be aware of.

Summer drinks trends: Spirits

In the second part of our feature on summer drinks trends, BigHospitality takes a look at which spirits will be in the spotlight this summer season, and why.

Pop-up restaurants and bars are not a new concept but have continued to remain a popular stalwart of modern drinking and dining culture.In our special feature this month, we take a look at how it’s done, what costs and overheads are involved and what location you should choose from those that have been there and done it.

How to run a pop-up restaurant: Street Kitchen

Last October Mark Jankel and Jun Tanaka took to the streets of London in an Airstream van to serve fresh, British food inspired by Jankel’s project The Food Initiative over the course of two weeks. Street Kitchen was run as part of the London Restaurant Festival, but is set to return this June after a successful first run. Jankel explains how the concept was executed.

How to run a pop-up restaurant: Jason Atherton

In 2010, former Maze executive chef Jason Atherton decided to run a pop-up in a disused Caffé Uno in Mayfair, to raise funds for homelessness charity Street Smart. The venue, which ran for just two days, was entirely funded by donations, and raised over £20k.

How to run a pop-up restaurant: Goodfellows at Glastonbury

Adam Fellows, chef/proprietor of Goodfellows restaurant in Wells, Somerset, launched Glastonbury’s first ever fine dining pop-up restaurant in 2007. He explains how his experience hasn’t put him off running a business in a muddy field just yet.

The UK’s hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector is one of the nation’s largest employers and contributes around 8 per cent to GDP, but while Britain is considered to be the fourth most admired country by global tourists, it is only ranked 13th for its hospitality. We take a look at how and why Britain needs to improve its service standards.

Service Standards: How to give great hospitality service

Improving your own service skills, as well as those of your staff, can make a noticeable difference in your business and the satisfaction of your customers.

How to best measure customer service

Jules Murray, of sales and customer service consultants Spider on the Wall tells BigHospitality how restaurants, pubs and hotels can measure customer service in the most cost-effective and beneficial way.

Service standards: How to raise the profile of front-of-house

Michel Roux’s Service TV programme has put front-of-house on the map, but how can the hospitality sector sustain this momentum? BigHospitality takes a look at steps that can be taken to help raise the profile of a career in service.

Every week this month we’ll be bringing you ideas on how you can use breakfast to drive extra revenue in your business, as well as tips on getting customers through the door during the early hours.

Breakfast: Is your hotel getting it right?

Breakfast in hotels is often one of the most under-rated and overlooked meals, but if it’s done right it becomes a key driver for business and extra revenue. BigHospitality takes a look at how you can make the most of breakfast in your hotel.

Breakfast: Is it right for your restaurant?

Some restaurant operators have been serving breakfast successfully for years, while others are only just beginning to understand the potential revenue stream afforded by the early morning mealtime.

Breakfast: Expanding your offering in pubs

With some of the biggest high street pub brands moving into the breakfast market, BigHospitality takes a look at why early morning trade makes sense – for some pubs.

Armed with fact and opinion from leading industry experts, we predict and identify what cuisines will take off this year, which flavours and food pairings will become popular, plus we’ll have an exclusive insight into what ingredients the UK’s top chefs will be using in 2011.

Food Trends 2011: Dining Trends

Vouchers and discounts have meant big business for restaurants over the last year, but with consumers increasingly looking for value in more than just their wallets, and with warnings that vouchers could permanently damage brands, restaurants will need to pay attention to other dining trends in order to fulfil their customers’ desires.

Food trends 2011: Top ingredients

BigHospitality brings you an exclusive insight into which ingredients will be top of the agenda for some of the UK’s top chefs this year.

Food trends 2011: Popular flavours and food pairings

In the second week of BigHospitality’s food trend feature, some of the country’s top chefs tell us which popular flavours and food pairings they think will be big in 2011.

The past 12 months have thrown a mixture of fortunes in the paths of restaurant, pub and hotel operators. From ash clouds and snow to Michelin stars and royal weddings, we take a look at what has defined 2010 for the hospitality industry.

Review of the Year 2010: The future

With 2010 almost over its time to look ahead to what the future brings. We’ve spoken to some of the industry’s key players to find out what they believe 2011 has in store for them and the industry, and look forward to the major openings hitting the UK.

Review of the Year 2010: Hotels

As 2010 draws to a close, we take a look back at how the hotel sector has evolved in the past 12 months.

Review of the Year 2010: Pubs

As 2010 draws to a close, we take a look back at how the pub sector has evolved in the past 12 months.

Often the personal skills required to work in our industry can’t be cultivated through traditional training programmes. Here, you'll find some quirky but effective training techniques that could help develop your staff's skills, attitude and drive.

Alternative staff training: How Pizza Express uses flirting and dialogue

Often the personal skills required to work in our industry can't be cultivated using traditional training techniques, which is why Pizza Express chose to hire a dialogue coach to encourage its staff to flirt and converse more with its diners.

Alternative staff training: Make everyone a salesman

Personnel who are well trained in their discipline are key to the success of any hospitality venue. But if they also understand how to sell, the immediate results of successful business could start to shine through in your bottom line.

Alternative staff training: Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) won’t equip you with the skills to become the next Derren Brown, but it may help provide your management team with the tools they need to motivate and communicate with their staff more effectively.

To help you have the most profitable Christmas you can, we've compiled this guide full of hints and advice on getting your offer right, marketing it, making your operation efficient and cutting costs, plus a few festive ideas to get you started.

Profitable Christmas: Attract spend-wary customers

Although the hospitality sector is recovering well after the recession, and despite consumers’ traditional increase in spend during December, the Government’s £80bn spending cuts may mean that restaurants, pubs and hotels will need to work just as hard as last year to attract trade.

Profitable Christmas: Cut seasonal costs

With consumer spend expected to drop this Christmas, the last thing you’d want is for your business expenses to eat away at your potential profits, but there are several small, low cost initiatives you can implement now to tackle your growing outflow.

Profitable Christmas: Adding value to hospitality

Tightened consumer belts over the Christmas period need not be as damaging to the hospitality industry as you might fear. Despite the expected slowdown, here are some simple measures that can keep people coming through your doors.

As your employees, suppliers, customers, the local community and the environment are all directly affected by how your business is operated, it’s important to adopt a responsible attitude and find out how Corporate Social Responsibility not only works for those around you, but improves your profits too.

Corporate Responsibility: How to get started

With the hospitality industry still reeling from the effects of the recession, concentrating on how responsible your business is may not be at the top of your ‘to do’ list.

Corporate Responsibility: Sam's Brasserie

Being a responsible business isn’t just an extra, it’s an essential, says restaurateur Sam Harrison, owner of Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison’s in Balham.

Corporate Responsibility: South Sands Hotel

Hotelier Jeff Gillard, who has recently reopened South Sands Hotel in Salcombe, Devon, believes there is no excuse for shying away from your commitment to the local community, no matter what size of business you have.

 

As consumers look to cut back on their restaurant and bar bills, we take a look at the ways you can help your drinks offering boost your bottom line.

How to maximise your drink sales: the perfect serve

Money made from drinks in food-led operations should account for 30-50 per cent of your total revenue, but even though consumers are now seeking cheaper options, there are a few tricks you can use to help your drinks offering fight back.

How to maximise your drinks sales: soft drinks

Alcohol sales in the on-trade are on the slide, but the soft drinks category continues to go from strength-to-strength. So whether you’re running a bar, restaurant or hotel you need to make sure your soft drink offer has plenty of fizz.

VIDEO: How to serve the perfect pot of tea

As the most widely-drunk beverage in the world, its important you know exactly how to serve the perfect cup of tea to your guests.

BigHospitality looks at how you can get the best out of your team and drive them on to new heights, be they front of house, in the kitchen, or behind the bar, to ensure your business prospers thanks to a focused and motivated workforce.

Inspiring your team to deliver a great business performance

Why take time to inspire your team? Well a motivated team is a hard working one that will deliver the attention to detail and customer service hospitality businesses live or die by.

Inspiring your front of house team

Good service is unobtrusive. Whether it’s the warm welcome you receive, or the relaxed but attentive care provided as you enjoy your meal and it's paramount to your business's success.

How to lead and inspire a team

There's no doubt there are some great leaders in our industry, but what makes a good leader? This was the topic of discussion in the latest Restaurant magazine Roundtable.

As Restaurant magazine launches the R200 list of the UK's largest food-led pub and restaurant operators , we take a look at the steps you should take to expand your business and brand across two or more sites.

How to turn a single outlet into a chain: Finance

With many a bank notoriously reluctant to lend to the hospitality sector in the past, how do you pay for expansion and who is likely to lend and help you build your restaurant, pub or hotel empire?

How to turn a single outlet into a chain: Property

If you have funding in place to grow your single restaurant, pub or hotel into a chain, the current economic uncertainty presents an opportunity to gain a foothold in the property market and start along the road to building your empire.

How to successfully grow your business

As we look this week at the ways restaurants, pubs and hotels should expand their business across two or more sites, we asked a handful of operators for their own experiences of growing a brand.

The FIFA World Cup 2010 kicks off on 11 June in South Africa with 32 teams battling for football’s greatest accolade. The competition presents a huge opportunity to drive sales and BigHospitality's series of articles will help you make the most of it.

FIFA World Cup 2010: The World Cup opportunity

The FIFA World Cup 2010 kicks off on 11 June in South Africa with 32 teams battling for football’s greatest accolade. BigHospitality takes a look at the opportunties it presents.

FIFA World Cup 2010: Boost venue appeal by utilising space

It may be all too tempting to turn your business into a World Cup party zone, but the true winners from the competition will be those who can successfully separate their original business concept from the football.

FIFA Word Cup 2010: Technology

The FIFA World Cup 2010 will command a global TV audience of millions, and although many will watch it at home, restaurants and pubs can create a carnival atmosphere with the right equipment in place to show the games.

Staying on top of hygeine can play a part in the success of your hotel, restaurant or pub. Here, we look at why it's important to make hygiene a top priority for your business, what you can do if you haven't already pushed it to the top of your list.

Make hospitality hygiene a priority

At the start of a week-long hygiene feature on BigHospitality, we take a look at why making hygiene practices a top priority for your hotel, restaurant or pub could be the secret to business success.

Food hygiene, the law

If you work in the hospitality industry, you will be in no doubt that it is one of the most heavily regulated business sectors. But do you know what the consequences are for your business and its employees if there is a breach of food safety rules?

Hygiene: Inspirational cleaning ideas

Cleaning, while essential, may not be the most exciting aspect of a job in the hospitality industry, but maybe you'll feel inspired with some of these different ideas for keeping things clean.

As the world moves online, so too must the hospitality industry. But how do you ensure you use the web to your advantage? From the use of external websites, to social networking, e-newsletters and mobile phone applications, we examine the different options for promoting your company online.

Guide to online marketing: Using external websites

As the online world grows in size, how can you ensure your restaurant, hotel or pub doesn't get lost in that increasing community?

Guide to online marketing: Make newsletters work for you

One of the most effective ways of getting bums on seats and bodies in beds is through the use of email marketing, but how can you ensure your newsletter is even opened?

Guide to online marketing: Social media

In the third part of our four-day feature we look at how restaurants, hotels and pubs can use social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to target customers.

 

Like a lot of gadgets these days, Electronic Point of Sales (EPoS) systems can do some pretty amazing things. In this series of articles, BigHospitality looks at all the latest systems and how using them can help you streamline your business and make it more efficient.

What is EPoS?

Like a lot of gadgets these days, Electronic Point of Sales (EPoS) systems can do some pretty amazing things. In fact, the installation of a decent EPoS system in a restaurant, pub or hotel business will not only help operators manage staffing, stock control and reservations, but ensure guests appreciate the speedy and accurate service that it helps deliver.

How EPoS is working in restaurants, hotels and pubs

Ideal matches: Pizza Express, New Forest Hotels and The Glow lounge tell us about their perfect EPoS systems.

Which EPoS system is right for your business?

With so many EpoS systems claiming to perform amazing tricks to boost your profits and quality of customer service, it can be hard to know which system is the right one for your business

Being sustainable needn't be expensive, tedious, time-consuming or tricky. In this series of articles, BigHospitality looks at what restaurants, pubs and hotels can do to improve their sustainability status, and gives you a peak at a selection of products that can help along the way.

BigHospitality's Sustainability Week: What is sustainability?

BigHospitality's Sustainability Week: What is sustainability, why should your business support it and how can you be sustainable?

BigHospitality's Sustainability Week: Restaurants

Being a sustainable business isn’t an ideal achievable only by those with wads of cash to spare.

BigHospitality's Sustainability Week: Hotels

We find three hotels who have taken the sustainability message to the core of their business.

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