We caught up with John Evans, Regional Operations Director at Restaurant Associates
Background to contract
Hinxton Hall Conference Centre began a new partnership with Restaurant Associates in January 2023, providing catering, cleaning and housekeeping services.
What does Hinxton Hall do?
Located in South Cambridgeshire, Hinxton Hall resides within a one-hundred-acre estate bordering the River Cam, which is part of the Wellcome Genome Campus - home to some of the world's leading institutes and organisations in genomics research. It is part of the Wellcome Connecting Science programme, hosting training and engagement activities, in addition to a range of external events. Combining traditional architecture with state-of-the-art facilities, Hinxton Hall offers exceptional heritage rooms and contemporary spaces designed for collaboration and learning.
Tell us a bit about how we worked with the onsite team
People are imperative in delivering exceptional experiences. At Hinxton Hall we transferred across nearly 50 employees from the incumbent caterer through the TUPE process. Starting in November 2022 we created a six-month transition plan to ensure the process was as smooth as possible. We spent time understanding the team and created bespoke development plans to ensure all employees were engaged in the process and could discuss concerns and ideas.
In terms of training and development how are you looking to develop the team on the ground to progress and what new opportunities are created through training and development.
All employees go through our SHINE training programme within the first two months. SHINE Academy is the place where our front of house teams can go to learn new skills with over 18 modules that are all focused on service excellence. From service style workshops all the way to wine list training and Wine and Spirit Education Trust professional qualifications.
SHINE Academy is available to our front of house team members of all levels with the aim of upskilling and inspiring our teams. The SHINE Academy team can also bespoke modules and courses for individual units to really get to know the culture and needs of each team.
By creating bespoke Standard Operating Procedures, we have ensured high standards are delivered across all areas. Not only does this allow employees to understand the requirements of delivering our offer but allows them to identify areas where innovation or new initiatives can be implemented.
To be successful how does Restaurant Associates demonstrate to the client at Hinxton Hall the support we offer throughout the partnership.
The client has been really impressed with our central function support. The marketing available to support the service is next level.
The sustainability initiatives we have in the business have been received well. Highlighting seasonal and local ingredients supported by engaging marketing allows consumers to make healthier choices should they desire. Implementing the latest food trends particularly around plant-based are another highlight and all together it creates a real sense that they have been treated to the very best food and drink, with the very best service, in a world-class venue.
We are working in partnership to support the onsite team on their net zero journey by sharing best practice and engaging with all stakeholders.
How do you see the partnership developing and can you share plans for the future?
We will continue to cement the progress we have made to date and embed our standards across all areas.
There is huge opportunity to drive external conference business further. The UK Conference industry is expected to grow by 1.5% annually through 2025. People want to interact face to face again after the pandemic and conferences are a fantastic way to unite groups.
We need to look for new business opportunities: what can we offer that they haven’t previously done. The first that comes to mind are weddings. The location is stunning with great accessibility. Coupled with excellent service and amazing food it really is an exciting time at Hinxton Hall.
Quote from Head of Wellcome Connecting Science Programme Operations, Katrina Robinson, said “We are delighted to be working with Restaurant Associates to develop and deliver an outstanding offer for Hinxton Hall Conference Centre delegates and visitors. We are confident that this partnership, with a shared ethos and values, will result in excellent outcomes for both our organisations.”