Few industries have been as hard hit by the pandemic as hospitality. So when the doors reopened on Alles für den Gast (Everything for the Guest) in Salzburg in November, the emotion in the halls was palpable.
After a year of enforced absence, Austria’s leading gastronomy and hospitality hub was back, under strict hygiene measures, doing what it does best: bringing the industry together to meet and greet, try out the latest product innovations, learn from the best - and do serious business.
Over 540 exhibitors and 21,897 trade visitors demonstrated their confidence in their industry by supporting the show. And many exhibitors commented on the high quality of professional trade visitors and sales enquiries they experienced over the five days.
“The fact that there were fewer trade fair tourists is not a disadvantage” said Christoph Haiböck, Country Manager Austria for Melitta Group. “We had very positive and highly qualified discussions and were also able to make some nice sales. We can therefore draw a very positive conclusion under the current circumstances. "
Reinhold Schärf from coffee specialists Schärf & Sons was another exhibitor happy to be back: “The industry needs the guest fair, especially in times of crisis, and so that it can continue to exist, we all need to work together. In my 43 years of service, I never experienced such a pleasant trade fair as this 2021 edition, and there has never been such a high quality of visitors. It has been extremely satisfactory.”
Markus Ferrigato from WMF summed his feelings up on Instagram saying: “First day of Alles für den Gast in Salzburg: high quality contacts and finally the chance to meet with our customers again!”
The energy and positivity in the halls was clear right from the start, when Benedikt Binder-Krieglstein, CEO of RX Austria & Germany, welcomed the Governor of Salzburg Wilfried Haslauer and Tourism Minister Elisabeth Kostinger to the official opening. This was followed by a keynote from entrepreneur, founder, motivator and storyteller Ali Mayhodji entitled ‘Start, Fail, Innovate and Kick Ass: Why mistakes are our best companions.’
To assist industry renewal and growth, trends, know-how and business insights were top priorities this year, with over 30 presentations across three stages. Topical themes included employee recruitment and retention, plant-based gastronomy and flexitarianism, and sustainable hospitality. Speakers ranged from star chefs such as Roland Trettl and Heinz Reitbauer, to hoteliers like Sacher boss Matthias Winkler and business experts and opinion leaders like Jan Smeets, concept developer for the industry.
Meanwhile, over on the Barista Stage, Alles für den Gast was hosting the Austrian Coffee Championships for the first time, on behalf of the Speciality Coffee Association of Austria. Junior Vargas claimed the coveted tile of ‘Barista Champion’, while Martin Wölfl won the Brewers Cup and Bojan Pasic took the well-deserved victory in the Cup Tasting. All three will go on to represent their country in the World Coffee Championships in 2022.
A taste of the future
For the past 50 years, Alles für den Gast has always been fully booked. However, with some long-standing exhibitors unable to participate due to travel restrictions and company Covid-19 policy, it had the positive effect of enabling the team to mix things up in the show halls.
“Waiting lists were and still are long” says Event Manager and Head of Operations Andreas Ott. “However, this year, in the rarest of cases, there was room for first time exhibitors who have not previously had the opportunity to present themselves and their products in front of thousands of trade visitors.”
In particular, there was a special focus on innovation, resulting in a significantly enlarged Start-up Area. “There are few industries as dynamic as gastronomy” said Andreas. “Almost every day, we see new product innovations in response to changing customer needs and trends. We want to help young companies lay the foundation for their future success by building a bridge between them and the established economy.”
Some 30 young entrepreneurs showcased their innovations in everything from new foods to ingenious IT solutions, including Unifai, who caused amazement with their AI operations management software.
And after 24 hours and very little sleep, the teams at this year's GastroHackathon presented their creative concepts on the Gastro Circle stage. The winner of the challenge was ‘Gleap’, an automated solution which enables small restaurant and hotel owners to quickly and economically build a web presence. In addition to significant publicity, the three-person team took home a prize pot of € 2,000.
Health and safety – a top priority
Hygiene management has always been critical to the hospitality industry, but this year, of course, it took on an entirely new meaning. A strict safety and hygiene concept was a prerequisite for the implementation of Alles für den Gast. All those involved in the fair had to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative pcr test result, and were subjected to seamless verification checks. There were also numerous options for hand disinfection, high-frequency cleaning of surfaces and a constant exchange of fresh air throughout the area.
Reflecting on the success of the event, Barbara Leithner, COO of RX Austria and Germany said: “Alles für den Gast has shown once again that, despite the current circumstances, it is Austria's largest trade fair. This shows how important tourism, the hotel industry and gastronomy are in our country. But what I'm particularly happy about is the solidarity in the industry in these difficult times. I would like to thank all our participants very much for that.”
Alles für den Gast returns to the Salzburg Exhibition Centre from November 5th to 9th 2022.