No other sector has condensed such an epochal revolution in such a short time space as the world of hospitality, due to the effects of the pandemic and related social changes. The appointment with HostMilano, from 22 to 26 October 2021, bears witness to a great spirit of adaptation, but also a quick, effective rebound. Armed with numbers, Simona Greco, Group Owned Exhibitions Director at FieraMilano, tells us what’s going on.
Let’s start with the data showing a fast rebound for the sector, prompting high hopes. Which segments have benefited most?
The numbers confirm the trend. The furnishings sector, in the first half of 2021, has seen growth in total sales of 51.7% over the same period in 2020, and what is more interesting is that this figure is up by 14.3% with respect to the first half of 2019 (data source: FederlegnoArredo). This is on a par with the restaurant industry, which according to reports by ExportPlanning has already gone through a ‘boom’ in global sales in the first quarter of 2021, up +22.8% with respect to the first quarter of 2020, and +23% over the same period in 2019. In general, we can say that the sectors represented in HostMilano, with turnover of 3.6 billion euros, rank third for export value derived from fairs, and from 2021 to 2023 we should see more growth, of +3.2%.
What are the figures of this edition of HostMilano, to date, in the area of Italian and foreign exhibitors and visitors?
We have over 1200 confirmed exhibitors, including 435 foreigners from 43 countries. The international markets considered most promising include Germany, France, Spain, the USA, Portugal, Holland, Greece, the UK and Turkey. As for the merchandise sectors, the largest quotas in the fair are for the Professional Restaurant and the Bar and Café Machinery sectors. As for visitors, we already know that thanks to the support of ICE/ITA Agenzia there will be 500 buyers from 41 countries in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Russia. Others will arrive in Milan through the partnerships between the event and about 30 of the most important Italian and international associations.
What are the main new needs dictated by the pandemic that have revolutionized the hospitality sector, and how has the sector been able to react?
Sustainability, connectivity, automation, engineering, artificial intelligence and contactless methods of operation and payment, as well as food delivery and extraordinary growth in the area of dark kitchens: over the last year, HoReCa had been forced to revolutionize its approach, with a strong focus on digitalization. This trend will continue, even in a context of in-person consumption. Companies have helped professionals, creating new products that facilitate the entry into the New Normal. Therefore this 2021 edition is particularly important, for those who want to understand and to literally touch the solutions for the future.
As a result, what are the new parameters of the event?
The fact of physical presence is already almost unique on the international fair scene of the hospitality industry, and it creates great expectations. Over the last two years the machinery of HostMilano has never stopped working, because our idea has always been to continue to act as partners of the participating companies, the buyers and the stakeholders. We have organized webinars on the most timely themes, publishing a newsletter and sending press releases, while working on a restyling of the fair’s sites. On what has become the indispensable digital front, the possibilities of networking at the fair have been amplified by the Expo Plaza platform, which presents an online catalogue of all the exhibitors, and open agendas for appointments with selected exhibitors.
What is the advantage of holding HostMilano at the same time as TUTTOFOOD?
Host2021 can rely on the simultaneous scheduling of not one but two other appointments: TUTTOFOOD, the leading event of the agriculture-food ecosystem, an ideal opportunity to exploit synergies with the world of hospitality; and MEAT-TECH, the event on technologies for meat processing and preparation of convenience food offerings. The advantage is that we can offer professionals a truly complete overview, covering equipment and semi-finished goods, as well as retail solutions.
SMARTLabel – Host Innovation Award is the competition open to all innovative companies. Above all, technological innovation is the trend that has made the most progress, with rapid digitalization. What are the outstanding developments in innovation you have seen this year?
Energy savings, the use of green materials and solutions, the focus on hygiene and user-friend tech solutions, customization and personalization, and flexible use of products. If we observe the characteristics of the 25 products that have been winners this year in the three categories of the prize (Innovation SMART Label, Green SMART Label, SMART Label), we can see that these are the most fertile areas, which offer a preview of what hospitality will mean in the future.
Will there be developments for the winners, given the fact that the competition is organized by Fiera Milano and HostMilano in collaboration with POLI.Design, with the support of ADI?
SmartLabel – Host Innovation Award is a coveted prize, now recognized on an international level, at its fourth edition. This year there were 79 entries, with over half hailing from the Food Service Equipment and Bar-Coffee Machines-Vending segments. We expect that such a high-profile initiative will attract the attention of sector professionals, and that the 2021 edition will be the most visionary thus far, since it is positioned in the midst of a restart for the entire sector of professional hospitality.