THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024 exceeds expectations, unveiling the future of HORECALegacy

Surpassing all expectations, the future of HORECA emerged at THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024. The innovations shaping the sector, and those with excellence set to elevate standards in hospitality, were showcased at the show.

In emphasising innovation, sustainability, and excellence, THAIFEX – HOREC Asia thrilled participants last week, attracting higher than anticipated attendance. Co-organised by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), and Koelnmesse, this landmark event offered an immersive exploration of the future of the hotels, restaurants, and catering (HORECA) sectors in Southeast Asia. THAIFEX – HOREC Asia caters to a surge in the hospitality sector12 and aims to bring new investments and opportunities to the HORECA industry.

THAIFEX – HOREC Asia, which took place 6 to 8 March 2024 at IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok, attracted 359 exhibitors, and 15,851 unique trade attendees from 68 countries over the 3 days, making it one of the largest HORECA gatherings in the region. Distinguishing itself further, the show hosted 391 handpicked buyers who participated in 1,636 meetings. Projections indicated that trade receipts generated from the show will amount to some 91 million USD in the upcoming year. On-the-spot orders placed at the show amounted to over 10 million USD.

Image courtesy of THAIFEX – HOREC Asia

The theme, “Shaping The Future of HORECA,” underscored the event’s commitment to pioneer change and foster industry growth through innovative solutions. Stakeholders from across the spectrum (and region) who attended the event expressed their delight that a trade show was now taking place for their specific needs.

“More than a trade show, THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024 has surpassed our expectations and become a catalyst for industry evolution,” states Mathias Kuepper, Managing Director and Vice President of Koelnesse Asia Pacific. “By bringing together the brightest minds and the latest innovations, the show is helping to shape the future of HORECA in the Asia Pacific region.”

Southeast Asia’s tourism sector experienced remarkable expansion and a robust post-pandemic recovery, driven by a surge in tourist arrivals. Thailand led the ASEAN region with 28 million international visitors3 in 2023. This surge has played a pivotal role in driving the national economy, contributing over 2.3 trillion baht in economic value and providing income for over one-third of Thailand’s population. A considerable portion of this economic surge is attributed to the growth of the HORECA sector. Thus, THAIFEX – HOREC Asia was established to help local and regional businesses in Southeast Asia to capitalise on this burgeoning opportunity.

Image courtesy of THAIFEX – HOREC Asia

Event Highlights:

Exhibition: The THAIFEX – HOREC Asia exhibition featured nine categories of products and showcased six current trends in the sector. Vanda Dechasmity Managing Director of VJ Supply, distributor of Thermomix in Thailand, was extremely happy with the event. Not only did she sell several units at the show but met new buyers from hotels and franchises to discuss bulk purchase deals.

“This show for us has been very, very good. We are meeting the right kind of buyers – ones we’ve never met before – and we are making a lot of appointments as we have a lot of potential deals to work on immediately after the event,” said Kuah Soo Shang, Regional Manager for UNOX.

Nuttasak Sopajaroen, the Senior Strategic Marketing Manager for Brand and Marketing Communications for Boncafe Thailand said they had attracted at least 100 leads per day for their B2B sales. “I’m really serious that this show is beyond my expectations. The number of people is a lot more than I was expecting and we’ve met so many potential customers. We already have 60 to 70% of conversions. We are happy that the show has split from THAIFEX – Anuga Asia because the HORECA buyers are far more focused to our business needs.”

Innovative Culinary Solutions: Leading brands like UNOX, Merrychef, Cimbali Group, and HOBART, showcased advanced technologies for efficient and sustainable food preparation and storage. Several brands took the opportunity to launch new products at THAIFEX – HOREC Asia, like the world debut of HOBART’s FX and FP series ‘cutlery premium’ feature for dishwashers, or Australian startup Scentible, which has created a range of scents designed to teach baristas how to identify coffee bean aromas or defects in coffee. Italian company Elmeco Srl debuted the Elmeco Matrix, a new self-service slushie machine that has an easy interface for consumers, portion control, and connectivity. All three of these solutions were awarded in the THAIFEX – HOREC Innovation Awards.

Image courtesy of THAIFEX – HOREC Asia

Scentible’s co-founder Alec Maroush was delighted: “From day one, we’ve had a lot of great people come through, especially a lot of B2B and corporate companies coming with the right interest… It’s been really good.”

THAIFEX – HOREC Innovation Awards: The inaugural awards recognised exhibitors that are pioneers and trendsetters who are improving HORECA operations with their innovations. The submissions culimated in 9 winners and 27 finalists emerging from a pool of 350+ entries.

THAIFEX – HOREC Xperiential Zone: A unique aspect of the trade show was a compelling showcase of 60 of the current most innovative products available on the market today. It included the featured products of the Innovation Awards which are poised to revolutionise the HORECA industry.

“This was an excellent experience, first because it was the first time we’ve ever received an innovation award, and because we’ve had the opportunity to meet very professional people. The show is also very well organised,” said Umberto Cortese, CEO of Elmeco Srl. He added that the company, despite showcasing one of only 20 prototypes, had sold three machines at the show and had generated very promising leads with buyers for multinational chain stores.

Knowledge Sharing at THAIFEX – HOREC Academy: With approximately 800 participants in attendance, THAIFEX – HOREC Academy featured a comprehensive programme delivered by 69 industry experts. Over the course of 3 days programme, they conducted 36 live sessions and 13 live demos, offering a treasure trove of insights. The primary goal of the Academy was to highlight the sectors trends and best practices, making it a valuable resource for attendees.

Competitive Platforms: For the inaugural edition, the ASEAN Coffee Federation hosted the ASEAN Barista Tea Championship, along with an intense competition for housekeepers, the Thailand Ultimate Housekeeping Challenge, which highlighted talent and innovation. Substantial prizes and industry recognition were on the line at both competitions.

Trends and Insights:

Sustainability Focus: Nearly 40% of exhibitors presented sustainable solutions, from energy efficient appliances to innovative applications or management systems for food waste, reflecting the sector’s commitment to minimising environmental impact.

Dish Washer Machine
Image courtesy of THAIFEX – HOREC Asia

“We are a very small business and didn’t expect such interest from hotels and resorts in our products,” said Suwattana Nanchai of S&P Bioenergy, the company behind SUPP branded cleaning products. “I didn’t expect anything like this and now we need to find a way to scale.”

Digital and Contactless Innovations: Featuring digital guest experience and contactless services, THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024 showcased technologies that enhance operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Plant-Based and Wellness Trends: With the rise of health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers, exhibitors displayed the latest products and solutions for plant-based menus and wellness solutions, like alternative milks for use by baristas, or tools and equipment to measure and enhance fitness and body composition.

Global and Local Participation: The event boasted significant international and local company participation, with 359 exhibitors from 23 countries and a 27,000 sqm exhibition space, a note-worthy start for a first time trade show.

Exclusive Hosted Buyer Programme: 391 trade buyers were handpicked and hosted to attend THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024. Key industry players such as the Cambodia Hotel Association, Vietnam Hotel Association, the Restaurant Association of Vietnam, Vietnam Executive Housekeepers Association (VEHA), Danang Hotel Associations and notable organisations like AWC, Dusit International, and the Minor Group, participated in the programme designed to foster strategic partnerships and sourcing opportunities.

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