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HPMF 9th Convention & Awards - A Well-Curated Show!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 17:11 Hrs  [IST]

Although one of the youngest and the smallest trade associations in the hospitality industry, Hospitality Purchasing Managers' Forum (HPMF), an association of Purchase professionals in the hospitality industry, has been noticed for its close-knit character and strong leadership. The annual conferences of HPMF are most sought-after and muchawaited event in the industry today for their out-of-the-box thinking and unique conceptualisation. P Krishna Kumar who attended the ninth HPMF Convention & Awards in Kochi between October 10 and 13 recounts the event

While most of the travel trade and hospitality industry associations scout around for sponsors for major part of the year before fixing the destination and venue for their annual conferences, HPMF generally announces their conference destinations a year in advance, before one annual conference ends. Kochi conference was announced at 2018 Varanasi conference, and Varanasi was announced at the conference at Jodhpur a year before that. Continuing the pattern, Dubai was announced as the destination for the 2020 conference when the Forum will celebrate its 10th anniversary. With target fixed in advance, they plan assiduously to execute the event impeccably.

HPMF has proved beyond doubt through the last at least five years its capabilities in organising its annual conferences absolutely flawlessly. HPMF annual forums are in that sense are giving run for their money for many trade associations in the travel and tourism industry for the precision with which they showcase the destination they travel to and introducing the varied hues of the destination to the delegates attending these conferences.

While Nitin Nagrale, Founder & General Secretary of HPMF in his pre-conference interaction to Hospitality Biz observed that Kochi was one of the "most challenging destinations" for the forum so far, those who attended the three-day convention in Kochi couldn't find even a minor flaw in the whole organisation of the event, except for some lag in time management.

A complete showcase of Kochi:
The venue of the HPMF convention, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, a relatively new hospitality address in the city, itself played a perfect host for the annual conference on the lap of the Arabian Sea with its huge convention infrastructure in LuLu International Convention Centre. The core committee didn't leave any stone unturned to make the event memorable to over 250 delegates drawn from across India and few delegates from outside the country representing HPMF chapters in Sri Lanka, Dubai, etc. While Kochi has hosted many national and international conferences of stature in the past, HPMF convention hogged the limelight for piloting novel concepts into the city. When Southern Railway decided to monetize its old Cochin Harbour Railway Station, which is not in regular use for many years, by renting out for events, HPMF committee seized the opportunity and hosted its opening event on the platform of the Station. Although untimely rain played the spoilsport midway, being the debut event at a railway station it became a talk of the town instantly.

HPMF Kochi conference was a complete package of what Kerala today stands for in the tourism landscape of the country. The key aspects for which Kerala is known are not only touched but showcased in its full vigour, during the three-day conference. The temple festivals, the traditional Onam feast, the Snake Boat Race, the Village life…the delegates had the opportunity to savour taste of all these during their stay in Kochi. To delegates delight, a temple festival with caparisoned elephants and traditional percussion was recreated in a local temple and a 'Kerala Sadya' (feast) was served with over 26-course meal. An evening at Kumbalangi village, the first eco-tourism village in India, also gave the delegates a broad perspective of Kerala life and culture. When the fair ended on the third day over a Snake-boat race in the backwaters in front of the Grand Hyatt Kochi, the delegates gave full marks to the organisers.

Call to strive for Excellence:
In his inaugural address, Jose Dominic, Founder Chairman of CGH Group urged purchase managers to strive for excellence for enterprises, destinations and for the local community. He said that it is time purchase managers looked beyond lowest pricing and best quality and strive to create excellence for enterprises, destinations and the local community. He cited the example of how the hospitality industry helped floods ravaged local communities in Kerala to resurrect their life and livelihood quickly as possible after floods destroyed their livelihood. The Weavers of Chennamangalam, and farmers of Wayanad were able to revive their livelihood by the support of focused purchasing of stakeholding industries including tourism.

'The old mantra of winning through competition is over, the time is to collaborate to win. In the changing scenario the purpose of the tourism industry is not just to serve tourists but also to deliver benefits to local communities', he said.

There were presentations by sponsors and partners of the HPMF Conference. Ajay J Mariwala, MD, VKL Seasoning made a presentation on the emerging food trends in the world. He spoke about Vegan food, green and clean labels and the importance of traceability in food. He said that HoReCa segment is yet to take cognizance of these emerging trends. He said that the consumers are going back to heritage food and the original ingredients. Wellness menus, superfoods, food with low sugar, low salt, etc. are in demand today and HoReCa has to address these demands, he said.

Angelo George, Chief Executive Officer, Bisleri in his presentation tried to convince that the PET bottles are the most convenient and most hygienic for food packaging and alternative packaging materials that are being proposed do not address the core issue of contamination, hygiene, etc. He said that Bisleri does 140 tests before water being packed and delivered. He said that the company has set up the first vertical manufacturing plant in Mumbai and has started commercial production last month. The answer to plastic is in educating the consumers about the importance of recycling. He said that producers are getting together to address the issue through consumer education now.

Ankush Agarwal, Director – Business Development for HARMAN, said that technological changes are happening at a fast pace and hotel industry has the challenge of remaining 'smart' from a customer experience perspective.

Pledge for Sustainable Procurement:
Underscoring the HPMF's commitment to sustainable and responsible procurement, the Forum has announced the launch of Global Sustainability Council under the Chairpersonship of Mala Singh. The Forum has also issued a Sustainability Pledge for its members. The pledge resolves to "inspire and encourage the hospitality industry" to contribute to preserve and conserve Environment and its precious natural resources. "HPMF is committed to contribute to the Nation's Mission of reducing the impact of Global Warming & Climate Change to save the planet …..HPMF will consistently educate its members about the eco-friendly procurement practices and also will provide the required know-how to the vendors."

Dubai – next Destination:
After holding their 9 conventions in India, HPMF will travel to Dubai next year for the 10th Anniversary convention and awards. "It was our decision to go to an international destination for the 10th anniversary. If we could pull out a great convention in Kochi where we have less than 30 members, we are quite confident that we will be able to organise a much better conference in Dubai where we have over 120 members," said Nitin Nagrale.

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