Susan Chappell, divisional director / executive committee at Mitchells & Butlers, is another new speaker for 2018.  Drawing on insights from over 26 years with the company (she now has responsibility for All Bar One, Browns, Nicholson’s and the Castle pub portfolio), she’ll be discussing the challenges of staying ahead and relevant to your guests when ‘Operating a range of brands and formats’

What do you see as key trends for the casual dining sector in the coming year? 

  • We need to take drink as seriously as food, as we are seeing a return to the drink occasion.  Guests want new experiences, and flavours that are on trend — give them difference in their drinks as well as their foods.
  • ‘Guest Experience’ is key for the future, as loyalty is obsolete in a market where guests have a wide repertoire of brands on their list.
  • Social media continues to prove a powerful channel for brand messaging and engaging with guests – finding new, exciting and innovative ways of reaching your guest base is key.
  • The rise of health, vegetarian/vegan and ‘free from’ foods is incredibly important and no menu will survive without a good dollop of all of them.

What do you feel is the key for operators, like you, to successfully compete against your competitors?

Keeping your brand relevant in this market is key.  Keeping up with trends and experiences, which are relevant to your guests, while giving good value for money is imperative.  People need to be your priority.  Attracting great people, investing in them and developing their potential is key – having an engaged team is essential.  Service experience is bought to life by your people – they will ultimately make the difference between your offer and that of your competition.

Who or what inspires you to be even better?

Our competitive marketplace inspires me — the evolution of many brands and concepts.  I am constantly inspired every day by new offers, food flavours, drink innovation, and the great work that some of our longer term brands do.  The innovation displayed across our industry in bringing such fantastic brands to the high street is incredible.

I am also inspired by our people – people in this sector are our greatest asset.  As a working mother on the Executive Committee at Mitchells & Butlers, I would also like to see more women in senior leadership / Exec positions – seeing more women take on challenging yet rewarding roles is extremely encouraging.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Do a job you love, as long as it gives you enough money to do the things you need to do.  Life is too short to do something you don’t love.

Describe the Casual Dining trade show in 3 words:

Informative, inspiring and innovative.

How important is the show to you and the sector?

Casual Dining show is an opportunity to mix with all sorts of brilliant people from across our sector, discuss real issues that impact our industry, as well as sharing stories that inspire and energise us to do something differently!

Can you tell us a bit about your much anticipated session at Casual Dining 2018?

In a challenging marketplace, such as hospitality, staying ahead and relevant to your guests is imperative.  In a world where offers are constantly evolving, and new concepts are being developed, if you fall behind you soon disappear.  I will talk about the additional challenges of running a range of brands and businesses in the City, how I drive my team to stay ahead of the competition, and my focus on making sure our iconic businesses remain the first choice for guests.

See Susan at Casual Dining 2018

Operating a range of brands and formats – the challenge to stay ahead: 2.45pm in the Keynote Theatre on Wednesday 21 February.  

To register for a free trade ticket, please click here.
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