On 15 October 2018, METRO AG hosted, in cooperation with HOSPITALITY.digital and METRO Belgium, the first edition of its “POLICY TALK & NOCTURNE” bringing policy-makers, gastronomy and food services together. The evening was dedicated to a discussion about digitisation in the HoReCa sector: “What have chefs, good eating and the digital economy in common?”
A summary of the evening
When Vincent Nolf, CEO METRO Belgium, referred to the well-known waiter with paper and pen in his opening remarks, he made clear that restaurants, in particular, are still in the early stages of digitisation and stressed the immense potential that HoReCa entrepreneurs discover when digitizing their businesses.
Tim Kruppe, Director of Digital Projects at HOSPITALITY.digital, continued by explaining that today's hospitality sector is mainly working on an analogue basis whereas simple online tools can simplify complex tasks and save high amounts of time that Restaurateurs could spend doing what they like the most, such as taking care of their customers or staff. HOSPITALITY.digital has, therefore, set itself the task of digitising the gastronomic sector following the motto "Your success is our business". Currently, around 100 solutions sponsored by METRO are being tested in over 500 restaurants across Europe.
Digital tools help us get back to our main focus: good food and happy customers
Ludwig Horn and Charles Balloffet, restaurant owners from Berlin (A. Horn and B. Horn) and Paris (Brutus) respectively, are using some of these digital solutions and shared their experiences with the audience, mainly composed of independent restaurant owners.
They emphasised that digitisation is fundamental for business growth as it offers many time-saving opportunities, especially in the administrative area, which would open up the possibility of investing more time in employees and customers. Regarding the question of why many restaurant owners are still reluctant to adopt such tools, both replied that most digital changes are scary at the beginning. Yet, employees and customers would quickly discover the added value of such tools, , as they help entrepreneurs in the gastronomic sector to get back to their focus: good food and happy guests.
The digital revolution will allow us to focus on what we love to doVincent Nolf, CEO METRO Belgium
Society is evolving: people like to eat in trendy places with modern gadgets and cook increasingly less
During the panel discussion, Jasmin Battista, Head of Sector E-Commerce in the European Commission, said that it was not possible to separate the digital economy from other sectors anymore. She stressed that digitisation should be gradually phased "in" and that this would help to attract the attention of today's consumers. Despite the fact that data itself was key to any business, she underlined that a high level of data protection was very important.
As an answer to which trends are necessary in the HoReCa sector of the future, Isidro Laso Ballesteros, Lead of Startup Europe, European Commission, mentioned a decisive factor: "It's all about passion - passion for your own business, passion for good food and passion for hospitality".
After the panel, the discussion continued among the guests from the EU political world and the customers of METRO Belgium during the event "Nocturne", in which many chefs and suppliers presented seasonal food and regional specialties offered at the METRO Cash & Carry stores in Belgium.