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One on One with Rohit Sachdev on Emerging F&B and Hospitality Trends

May 17, 2014 Corporate No Comments Email Email

aging Director Rohit Sachdev recently returned from Dubai where he was a speaker at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum.

Rohit Sachdev morderating the TURNING HOTELS INTO DINING DESTINATIONS panel disscussion

These are busy times for Rohit and Soho Hospitality as the company embarks on the opening of its second restaurant Charcoal, a new concept in Indian dining following the success of the Peruvian Japanese restaurant Above Eleven. At the same time, the interior design and F&B consulting services arm is making strides with recent acquisitions of F&B and hotel projects including the renovation of the D2 Dusit Phuket Resort and Spa by Dusit International. We sat down with Rohit on a hot, sunny day in April to discuss F&B trends and his aspirations for Soho Hospitality.

So you were recently a speaker at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum. What would you say is the single most important F&B trend? 
Well the biggest thing we are seeing is the emergence of a new breed of middle class consumers. With the proliferation of low cost airlines and the “now everyone can fly” proposition, we have savvy, well-traveled, design conscious, middle class consumers who are sophisticated and have a high expectation of what they seek in terms of F&B products. These consumers are not seeking places where they can see and be seen nor do they desire anything that is trendy or faddish. They want compelling yet unpretentious experiences. They want fun dining, not fine dining. They want to be in places where they feel good, not look good. Most importantly, they want to engage with products where there is strong emotional connectivity. Due to the sheer size of the middle class, it is a demographic that hotel operators and restaurant companies are seriously looking at and creating products for.

Panelists and delegates at the networking session at Qbara after the conference

What are some of the other emerging trends that interest you?
There are a few notable trends we are seeing including the growth of tea shops across the globe led by Teavana which has over 300 stores in the US, Canada and Mexico. Expect more tea lounges to open across the region as has been the trend with coffee shops and cafes. We are also seeing a movement towards ethnic inspired dining concepts which maintain the authenticity of a cuisine but with an experience that is more reflective of a global culture. Craft beer is also a huge trend with sales of US craft brewers in 2011 reaching a whopping US $8.7 Billion in 2011 as customers are seeking more choices, flavor and diversity in the category of beer brands that they buy. Last but not least is the ‘farm to table’ food movement where chefs want to support their local communities by having relationships with where their food comes from and with the individuals who are growing them: the farmers, the fishermen and the foragers.

How do these trends impact the work that you are doing at Soho Hospitality? 
The most important thing that we have learned is that the needs and wants of the demographics for who we create products for are constantly evolving. With that in mind, we need to stay current and nibble to how these changes impact the way we approach our work. At Soho Hospitality, one of the biggest values we try to build in our corporate culture is to keep our hands and feet on the ground so that we don’t lose touch with the people who we create products for. We also look very closely at consumer behavior and approach our work by studying how consumers engage, experience and interact with the F&B offerings in the market. We then seek creative, innovative ways to deliver products that emotionally connect with them in order to create the tipping effect. On one of our latest projects, our concept was partially driven by the Dhabba, a hole in the wall highway restaurant frequented by truck drivers in India. Now, that’s a lot of inspiration!

What are your future aspirations for Soho Hospitality in terms of F&B? 
Well, we have our new Indian restaurant opening soon so we’re quite excited about that. Above Eleven has been extremely successful but we need to grow our business beyond our flagship outlet. (We don’t want to be remembered as a one hit wonder!) We have 2 casual dining concepts we are looking very closely at and should open one by the end of the year. The plan is to open several branches of these outlets around Bangkok and perhaps franchise them overseas at a later stage. In term of our interior design and F&B consulting services, we are currently working on F&B projects with Taj Hotels, Mövenpick Hotels, Dusit International and Starwood to name a few. We expect some of these F&B outlets to open later this year.

Stay tuned!

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