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IndiCater News Archive


Saturday, 13 Decemeber 2014

Luddite Or Technophile?

Technology has changed the hospitality labour landscape

‘You Luddite’. That’s what I overheard one guest calling another at an industry lunch I attended recently. It was jovial banter, the result of one guest dismissing the value of Twitter while the other continually posted photographs of the food served during the meal. But it started me thinking about the rapid pace of change, particularly the impact of technology on the hospitality industry, and whether it has added value.

In the 1800s the Luddites rebelled against the introduction of machinery, fearful of machines replacing skilled workers and removing their livelihoods. There is no doubt that in our modern hi-tech world, technology has replaced many labour-intensive tasks with an abundance of efficient and cost-effective solutions. You don’t have to look far to see the evolution of highly sophisticated technical kitchen equipment such industrial scale combi ovens contributing towards the deskilling of many practical tasks, reducing kitchen headcounts and associated labour costs.

But in many cases, the advent of technology in hospitality has enhanced traditional manual roles, improving the way in which a task is carried out, making it more efficient and delivering added value not just to the company but to the customer as well. The hotel sector provides an excellent example of this with the early introduction of dynamic reservation systems used by staff to help manage room bookings. Prior to the birth of the internet such systems were only available at local level of course, but their far-reaching use now extends to online customer reservations; complex customer relationship management systems and marketing applications; yield management tools, etc.

In a similar way, the introduction of the hand-held point-of-sale device for waiting staff has helped to speed up customer service while providing advanced management information to the operator.

In many aspects, technology has changed the hospitality labour landscape, with a shift in the nature of many of the traditional roles. Where once a waiter took a customer’s order using a simple pad and pen, modern hand-held devices facilitate access to marketing tools which prompt waiting staff to encourage customers to trade up and utilise special offers; provide waiting staff with detailed dish knowledge such as allergen data; offer direct communications with the kitchen; allow a customer to pay at the table and so forth. Waiters no longer simply take orders; their role has changed and they now have the tools that can increase sales and take customer satisfaction to a new level.

In a similar way, back office software systems like ours at IndiCater that manage and record sales and purchasing data, stock, recipe and menu data, e-procurement, employment data, etc, have changed the roles of office administrators and clerks from data inputters to those more akin to skilled auditors and data analysts.

In these new roles, staff are auditing and analysing the end operational results, with technology providing the means for data to be processed in an automated and immediate way, linking systems together such as EpOS, payroll and accounts packages with platforms like IndiCater.

Of course there are areas where it could be argued that some of the most recent technical innovations are eating into the true meaning of hospitality, potentially attempting to replace customer service skills with automated processes. Is it a sign of progress in a restaurant where the customer can order and pay from their table using a built-in electronic device? Is it a sign of progress that a pub can have automated beer taps built into the bar tables and activated by a credit card? What do customers seek to satisfy when they visit a hospitality operation; can technology replace the importance of interactive customer service skills?

In my view, technology has a dual purpose in the hospitality sector and should be used to support the customer experience and to help ensure that businesses remain profitable. This might certainly change the nature of some of the traditional roles in hospitality; I wonder what the Luddites would make of such progress?



Can finances excel beyond Excel?

First published in EP Magazine Issue 46 July 2013

Row, column, other? The ubiquitous Excel is no longer the only option for spreadsheets and information tracking

In its various forms, Excel has been the most widely used spreadsheet program for the best part of 30 years. Millions of users have come to rely on the software program to help keep both their businesses and personal lives organised and on track.

In the hospitality sector, Excel has been traditionally used by operators to record and analyse trading data, whether for single-site or multi-site operations. When I ran our contract catering company back in the 1990s, operating a multi-million pound company with over 70 contracts, I could not have imagined running the business end of things without the use of multiple Excel spreadsheets to capture and bring together site trading data.

The challenges associated with relying on Excel to support a business, especially a cash-generating business, haven’t really changed since the inception of the software. Its two main limitations are that Excel is primarily confined to use by a single user, although there are the beginnings of multi-user collaborative functionality; the data outputs (and inputs) are not in real time and, once data is copied into Excel and then manipulated, it is vulnerable to data integrity issues.

Today, there are much quicker and more advanced collaborative web-based business productivity tools available. They are simple for all levels of employee to work with, can accept and interrogate live data from multiple users and offer real-time analysis, together with the associated operational benefits that this brings. However, if you took ten finance professionals from the hospitality industry and asked them what software they used in their business, most would still likely say Excel.

So why is it that the love affair with Excel is such a strong one? Are those who have made the lovers’ leap to other platforms satisfied with their decision?

Traditionally, change has always been slow in the hospitality sector, often lagging behind other industries when it comes to different ways of working and approaching new innovations. You don’t have to look far to see how the retail sector has led the way in both EPOS technology and online purchasing and, in many ways, hospitality is still playing catch-up in both of these areas. Then there is the generation gap. Where static software packages such as Excel were once the ‘go to’ management data option, the millennials (18-34 year olds) think differently.

As the millennials enter the workforce market and take on more responsible and senior roles within the industry, they bring with them new ways of thinking. Brought up with sophisticated technology as the norm, where everything is instant and readily accessible, their expectations of management business tools are different from older professionals. Millennials want and expect management information to be live and accessible from any number of mobile devices. They trust, and indeed expect, the technology they use to provide the information they require to support them in making informed business decisions.

“Millennials want and expect management information to be live”

Of course, there are those who have made the switch from relying on Excel to help them manage their business to those who are using web-based back office management systems which both capture and interrogatedata.

Trading information is entered into a secure system at site level, with immediate and live access available to anyone with authorisation within the business, helping to shape decision making. No longer do businesses have to wait for out of date Excel reports to tell them how their business is doing, or indeed if there is an operational problem or issue. Action can be taken immediately and businesses adopting this route have consistently reported improvements to their bottom line of between three percent and fifteen percent.

There can be no doubt that the digital age in which we live is forcing change and this change is having an impact on how we both live and work. In my opinion, the winners will be those who embrace the best of what’s available. Is there a place for Excel alongside online management software? Perhaps, but my money is on those who embrace new technology to help them run their businesses more efficiently and profitably, discovering new ways to excel.


TheEleven.jpgNew Business Development Director

March 2013

IndiCater is delighted to announce the addition of Lucy Horner to the IndiCater team.

Lucy joins the company as Business Development Director.  With extensive knowledge and experience of the hospitality sector, Lucy brings operational insights and expertise to her client facing role. 

Originally craft trained, she has worked extensively in senior roles across the catering arena, starting out in restaurants and moving across into contract catering. 

Lucy has worked with both small independents and larger corporates including ACMS, Rentokil Initial and ISS UK, performing operational roles and latterly developing her sales skills in the B&I, Education and FM marketplace.

In the past, Lucy has been a client of IndiCater’s and, as such, is ideally placed to share her first-hand experience of the opportunities and benefits that greater control can bring to businesses with the application of back office management systems.


TheEleven.jpgIndiCater Supports Lexington’s Chosen Charity

March 2013

IndiCater is delighted to donate the use of our back office management software to Paper & Cup, a new cafe initiative from the 'Spitalfield Crypt Trust', supported by Lexington - a long standing client of IndiCater’s.

The team from Lexington have been involved with helping to set up and run the 'Paper & Cup' project, offering intimate spaces in Shoreditch and Bow that offer a range of delectable coffee, books and treats, available throughout the day.

Paper & Cup is a not for profit social enterprise providing assistance for the homeless, those recovering from addiction and in poverty.

Named by The Sunday Times in 2011 as one of the ‘Best Companies to Work for’, Lexington support the project with their catering management expertise.   In turn, IndiCater provide Paper & Cup with the software required to manage the back of house processes involved in running a commercial retail enterprise.

For more information about Paper & Cup, click here


TheEleven.jpgGiving A Voice To The Artisan Baker

Thursday 14th March 2013

IndiCater were once again delighted to sponsor the latest in an on going series of Entrepreneurs Forums, in partnership with EP Magazine.  The speaker was Tom Molnar from Gails Bakery. Gail’s Bakery is one of a small number of businesses to have flourished despite the recent economic troubles in the UK.

As one of the co-founders of the company, Tom Molnar’s story is certainly an interesting one with a few twists & turns!

After studying “Productive Ecology” at Dartmouth College, he went on to become, among other things, a fish farmer! After a while however he joined the agricultural company Cargill as a commodities trader before eventually going on to work for the management consultancy company McKinsey in London. To read more about Toms story click here


Mike Day announced as speaker at HSMAI Conference for Hoteliers in February

January 2013

The HSMAI Europe Annual Revenue Management Conference will take place on February 7th on the theme of Total Revenue Management and addresses the challenges in optimising revenues across all profit centres, including developing a cross departmental revenue management culture, sourcing the tools and technology available to support total revenue management programmes, and the implementation process. The conference will also cover the HSMAI Certified Revenue Management Training and qualification.

Thibaut Seillier – Corporate Revenue Manager Kempinski Hotels S.A., talks about his experience in rolling out a Total Revenue Management Programme with Kempinski.
Catherine Whittle – Managing Director Spa Partners talks about how revenue management is being applied to the Spa, the benefits and limitations
Stephen McManus – Former MD Sodexo Prestige, Food and Beverage Expert, walks us through Restaurant Revenue Management – A case study.

General Session speakers include:
Guy Barnes Senior Account Manager, IDeaS Revenue Solutions
Chris Cooper Group Revenue Director Rocco Forte Hotels
Dave Courteen Managing Director, Imagine Spa Management
Mike Day, CEO IndiCater Food and Beverage profitability management
AnneMarie Gubanski Taktikon
Paul King Regional Manager, Revenue Optimization EMEA at Sabre Hospitality Solutions
Heather Leisman, Managing Director EMEA HotelTonight
Paschal Nee, Co-Founder MTT, Mobile Travel Technology
Richard Oram, Product Manager, Micros Systems
Heiko Siebert, Vice President Distribution Moevenpick Hotels
Marta Varela, Global Director Revenue Management Meliá Hotels International

Educational sessions include the following speakers
Patricia Boo Senior Business Development Manager STR Global – Total Profitability benchmarking
Mario Bellinzona Vice President Global Sales Nor1 – The importance of a data-driven Upsell Strategy
Fredrik Önrup Managing Director Pingvinen – optimising menu profitability and menu engineering
Brian Reeves Managing Director Avvio – Increasing conversion rates through your web booking engine
TravelClick – optimising revenues through CRS Channel management and data solutions
RJ Friedlander CEO ReviewPro –Driving revenues from Guest reviews

Conference Moderators
Wilko Weber, Swiss Hospitality Solutions
Hieko Siebert Vice President Distribution Moevenpick Hotels
Warren Mandelbaum, Managing Director, Revenue Management Consultants


TheEleven.jpgDragons Den

Mike Day, CEO of IndiCater, was once again invited by Oxford Brookes University to take part in their annual Dragons’ Den event in December.
As part of an undergraduate module entitled Entrepreneurship and Creativity in Hospitality and Tourism, led by Senior Lecturer Roberto Daniele, students face the daunting task of pitching their business ideas to panels of successful entrepreneurs.

Sixteen entrepreneurs including Mike, participated in the latest Dragons' Den, held on 13th December at the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London.  Of 45 students on the module, Karen Hayes was the winner who picked up the Bespoke Hotels Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  Her prize includes a £500 voucher to spend at any property in the Bespoke Hotels portfolio and £500 cash.  Karen is determined to set up her business, entitled Reuniting Forces, which focuses on the reintegration of military personnel to their families and to society after challenging tours of duty.

Said Mike “This is such an excellent initiative, placing students in a realistic scenario where they have to share their passion and business rationale behind an innovative idea with those working in the industry.  I always enjoy taking part, in a small way supporting the University as they develop and nurture industry talent for the future”.


TheEleven.jpgIndiCater partners with Oxford Brookes University in Bacchus Mentoring Programme

October 2012


Over 135 senior figures from the hospitality and tourism industry now offer formal mentoring support to students in the Oxford School of Hospitality Management. Drawing on their professional experience, and supported by training and on-line resources, the mentors provide dedicated support to all final year undergraduates and all postgraduates.  IndiCater is delighted to support the programme, providing the software to facilitate undergraduates and mentors communicating with one another, and sharing resources.  Lou Willcock, Director of IndiCater, is a graduate and Visiting Fellow of the University.

The students receive face-to-face guidance, they visit mentors in their places of work and are introduced to networks of contacts across the sector. The programme helps students understand the realities of management and leadership, gives them insights into their own strengths, weaknesses and development needs, and assists them in bridging the gap between higher education and graduate employment.

This year's launch event was hosted by the Lancaster London hotel on Friday 5th October. Attended by 120 students and 90 of the mentors, it included a 'speed-networking' session, discussions on maximising the benefit of mentoring relationships and time for mentors and mentees to plan for the year ahead.

The Manager of the Lancaster London, Andrew Bachelor, commented, "It was an honour for us to host this year's launch of the Bacchus Mentoring Programme. As a graduate of Oxford Brookes University myself, it is so encouraging to see the support that is being provided for this current generation of hospitality and tourism management students. The mentors, all of them influential figures from our sector, are dedicated to nurturing those who aspire to lead hospitality organisations. Being part of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management clearly provides students with a strong base from which to progress their careers."

The finale event of the programme, scheduled for April 2013, will be hosted by the Dorchester on Park Lane.


EP Entrepreneurs Forum – Rolf Munding , ‘Serial Entrepreneur’

Sponsored by IndiCater
26 October 2012

Hosted at The Commonwealth Club last Friday morning, the latest instalment of the EP Entrepreneurs Forum featured Rolf Munding as the key note speaker. From the beginning Rolf held everyone’s attention with the story of his life in business and his experiences as an entrepreneur across a wide variety of sectors. Rolf is, by anyone’s standards, a “serial entrepreneur”. With his fingers in many pies including hotels, restaurants, breweries, television production, shoe making and distribution, Rolf has a breadth of experience few can compete with.



21 September 2012
Royal opening for Wivenhoe House and the Edge Hotel School

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG has officially opened the newly-restored Wivenhoe House hotel, home of the Edge Hotel School, in Colchester.

The UK’s first hotel school where degree students combine their studies with work in a commercial luxury hotel, the Edge Hotel School is where the future leaders of the hospitality industry will learn their profession.  IndiCater are delighted to be one of the founding sponsors at the School.

Describing it as “unique”, The Duke of Kent said: “I hope no-one underestimates the importance of vocational and professional training in this field.”

A partnership between the University of Essex, its academic partner Kaplan, and the Edge Foundation, the Edge Hotel School took its first students in June and July, allowing them to be involved in opening a new hotel.

Andrea Tye, 28, from Tiptree, Essex, who is studying for a BA in Culinary Management, said: “At the moment I am still really living the dream, everything I could have possibly have wanted in terms of a course and work experience is here.”

Andrea, who escorted the Royal visitor around the hotel, added: "It was really good to meet HRH The Duke of Kent. He seemed really interested in what we are doing." Martin Kilgariff, 20, from Folkestone, Kent, who also showed HRH around the public rooms and two of the bedrooms, said: “He found the whole idea of The Edge Hotel School extremely interesting. He was very keen to know of my experience in the hospitality industry.”

Students of the Edge Hotel School are working towards fast-track two year degrees, learning by doing through combining academic study with working in all areas of the hotel and restaurants, supervised by leading industry professionals. The hotel school curriculum has been developed in collaboration with employers and industry leaders and with industry needs in mind.

The eighteenth century Wivenhoe House, in Colchester, which was painted by John Constable, has undergone a £10 million-plus refurbishment, restoring it to its Georgian and Victorian grandeur.

The Duke of Kent met representatives of the three partners involved in establishing the Edge Hotel School, unveiled a plaque and signed the Visitors’ Book, before having lunch in the hotel’s Signatures Restaurant, prepared by Executive Chef Paul Boorman.

For more information about the Edge Hotel School click here


Why does London2012 matter?
August 2012

With a quick look around our IndiCater office, you can quickly see the important part that sport plays in the lives of our team. Between us, we have run four marathons, rowed, snowboarded, skied, cycled, played tennis; spectaåted at football games, F1, Tour de France, athletics meets, Wimbledon and horseracing events; and we even have a member of the MCC on the team.  Sport matters to us. As a Henley based company, not only have we have been absorbed in the outstanding success of our local rowers, but also in the success of the rest of TeamGB. So much so, that we have been reflecting on the synergy between sport and business, and the lessons that can be taken from London2012.

Eight key points that matter to the IndiCater Team:

  1. Team Work – nothing is achieved by one person alone. Team work is essential for success, combining the individual skills of those within the team to achieve a common aim.
  2. Be the best that you can be – set personal targets and be single minded in order to achieve them.
  3. Fair play – be honest and don’t compromise your values or integrity.  Cheats never win, and cutting corners never pays.
  4. Commitment – make your mind up and commit to the aim.
  5. Dignity – you won’t win everything but there is dignity in how failure is handled.  Learn the lessons and strive for success once again.
  6. Determination – adopt a focused approach. Visualise the finish line target and don’t get distracted. Go for it!
  7. Pride – be proud of the Team, be proud of the work the team has done, and be proud of the result whatever it might be.
  8. Respect – always respect the competition.  You are competing in the same arena so know your completion but be authentic.

There will be many legacies left by London2012 when the Olympics reach their conclusion. For IndiCater our legacy will be to commit to growing the company FASTER through new contract success and excellence in client satisfaction; delivering a level of service that is HIGHER than our competitors; providing clients and customers with a back office software system that is STRONGER than the rest.


TheEleven.jpgEP Entrepreneurs Forum – Rob O’ Donovan, The Eleven
Sponsored by IndiCater
20 June 2012


“Social Media as an everyday tool for business”
Creating a digital platform for customer engagement is a question which affects almost every business in every sector. No longer the preserve of the young only, social media is rapidly becoming a must-have, must-do for everyone.  But how can companies best leverage the opportunities presented by social media while simultaneously avoiding the perceived pitfalls?
At the recent Entrepreneurs Forum, Rob O’ Donovan, founder/director of The Eleven, gave an insightful presentation on the use of social media in business today.

IndiCater are once again delighted to be sponsoring the latest Entrepreneurs Forum, in partnership with En Passant.

G4S Contract Extension
April 2012

G4S Integrated Services has signed a new 3 year contract extension with IndiCater,
which strongly emphasises the long term relationship and partnership between the two companies,
building on a raft of recent installations across the healthcare, education and
business & industry market sectors.

The new agreement will enable G4S to adopt IndiCater software on any future contract catering and soft FM site in a faster and more cost effective manner.


IndiCater Director invited to be a Shine Award 2012 judge
April 2012

Louedit.jpgIn 2011, Lou Willcock was presented with the Women’s 1st Shine Mentor of the Year Award, supported by People 1st. Click here for more. 

Lou was additionally ranked as one of the top 100 most influential women in the hospitality industry.
Now moving into the second year of the awards, Lou has been invited to join the judging panel for the Mentor of the Year 2012.  Said Lou ‘It was an honour to win such a prestigious award last year, and I am delighted to be invited back to help select this year’s recipient.  The awards are such a great initiative and I am extremely happy to be involved’.

Women 1st Shine Awards 2012 now open for entry - deadline for nominations 4 May 2012
The Women 1st Shine Awards are the only awards to celebrate the amazing achievements of women across the hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism industries, and those businesses and individuals that are leading the way in supporting female development and retention.

Click here for more information


EP Entrepreneurs Forum – Stephen Vaughan, Thomas Cook London 2012 Partnership
Sponsored by IndiCater
21 March 2012“Achieving Positive Results in Turbulent Times”
Stephen Vaughan has led the Thomas Cook London 2012 partnership since February 2010, which is the team responsible for delivering short-break packages to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It is the first project of its kind at a Games event and will also be the first time Thomas Cook, a Tier 2 sponsor of the Games, will have been involved this competition at such a level. Stephen comes from a background in the business which included time at Club 18-30 and Thomas Cook Sport and he is well versed in what it takes to run a successful specialist travel company. At this morning’s Entrepreneurs Forum hosted with IndiCater at The Commonwealth Club, Stephen delivered a compelling presentation on the progress Thomas Cook has made, and the lasting legacy he anticipates in the aftermath of both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games.

IndiCater are once again delighted to be sponsoring the latest Entrepreneurs Forum, in partnership with En Passant.


EP Entrepreneurs Forum – Bobby Hashemi, Risk Capital Partners LLP
Sponsored by IndiCater
28 February 2012 Hashemi, a private equity investor at Risk Capital Partners LLP, spoke yesterday in a very open and engaging manner about his story in founding Coffee Republic and how he views the market today.

IndiCater are delighted to be working in partnership with En Passant in sponsoring the latest series of Entrepreneurs Forums.






May 2011

Oxford Brookes University article on Lou Willcock and IndiCater.

Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Alumna Lou Willcock wins Shine Award

Co-founder and Director of Indicater, Lou Willcock, has won the Women 1st Shine 'Mentor of the Year' award for her work in developing and launching the Bacchus Mentoring programme for Brookes’ Hospitality Leisure and Tourism Management students. Lou was also shortlisted for Outstanding Entrepreneur for co-founding two companies.

After studying at Brookes, Lou teamed up with Mike Day to launch Customised Contract Catering which employed over 300 staff and was ultimately acquired by Granada Foodservices. Inspired by the challenges they faced whilst managing 70 different sites on a manual system, Lou and Mike developed IndiCater Ltd, one of the leading back of house hospitality software specialists serving 1 in 4 contract caterers in the UK.

Lou was also instrumental in the development of Brookes' Bacchus Mentoring scheme which she co-pioneered with a select alumni group and which has grown from 50 mentors in the first year to over 100 mentors in its fourth year. The scheme allows students to choose their mentors from mentor profiles featured on a special intranet created and facilitated free of charge by IndiCater.

It is proving hugely successful as the mentoring process is beneficial for both mentor and mentee alike. As Lou says: “What do I like about mentoring? I love everything about it. I love engaging with the future of the sector, helping to shape their talent and potential and ensuring that they stay in the sector. And I learn as much from my mentees as they do from me.”



May 2011

Latest EP Entrepreneurs Forum - Masala World - Sponsored by IndiCater

Ranjit Mathrani, Chairman of Masala World, hosted the latest EP Entrepreneurs Forum to be held in London at The Commonwealth Club on 27th May. Using his experiences in industry, Ranjit gave a presentation on “The importance of good business management and client retention processes in hospitality today”

Ranjit, in partnership with his wife and sister-in-law, began Masala World in 1999. Together they have opened the hugely successful “Chutney Mary”, “Verraswamy”, “Amaya” and “Masala Zone”, all to critical acclaim. But there is more to the success of these restaurants than just great chefs, friendly staff and comfortable surroundings. To Ranjit the importance of having the right information and the appropriate customer profiling cannot be over rated, especially operating, as he does, in multi-units across a broad spectrum of markets.

To read the full article please click here.

IndiCater are delighted to be sponsoring this years series of Entrepreneurs Forums, working in partnership with En Passant for the second year running. Previous hosts have included Lucy Gemmell, founder of Rhubarb; Doug Tetley, Chief Executive of Searcy’s; and Des Gunewardena, Chairman & CEO of D&D London

Said Mike Day, Chief Executive of IndiCater “It is a privilege to be sponsoring this outstanding series of events.  All those attending the Forums have heard some incredible stories from some incredible entrepreneurs"



IndiCater support ground-breaking mentoring scheme
FSM Magazine Article
May 2011

FSM MagazineA ground-breaking mentoring scheme by Oxford Brookes University aims to encourage more students to develop long-term careers in the industry”, reports Jane Renton in FSM for Contract Caterers June 2011.

IndiCater are proud to support the scheme, providing the web based hub for over 200 and mentees and mentors to communicate and share information with one another.

Read the full article in FSM journal here.


April 2011

Lou Willcock awarded Shine 'Mentor of the Year'
IndiCater Special Report

Last night at a fantastic ceremony at The Savoy hotel in London, our very own Lou Willcock, co-founder and director of IndiCater received the Shine 'Mentor of the Year' award. We are all very proud of Lou, and know how passionately Lou feels about mentoring and how much she has done for mentoring over the years.

Lou is also named on the list of Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism.

Speaking of her achievement Lou said:

" I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded the Mentor of the Year award at last nights sparkly Women 1st & Shine Awards held at The Savoy in London. The citation that Gaby Roslin read out when I was presented with the mentors award left me speechless and I cannot tell you how moved I was just to have been nominated for something, especially this. Thanks so much for everyone’s support (and nominations!), it is truly appreciated."

Lou was also shortlisted for Outstanding Entrepreneur, co-founding Customised Contract Catering with Mike Day in the 1990’s, the company employed around 300 staff and ran 60+ contracts before being acquired by Granada Foodservices.  Lou and Mike then went on to co-found IndiCater Ltd, one of the leading back of house hospitality software specialists in the UK.

We are all incredibly proud of Lou and offer our congratulations to the other winners too.

The Winners:

  • Outstanding Entrepreneur Award Winner: Jillian MacLean, managing director, Drake & Morgan

  • Rising Star Award Winner: Xoe Donovan, general manager, The Longford House Beefeater and Cannock South Premier Inn
  • Mentor of the Year Award Winner: Lou Willcock, founding director, IndiCater
  • Woman of the Year Award Winner: Victoria Sanders, managing director, Teletext Holidays
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Robyn Jones OBE, chief executive, CH&Co
  • Small Business Award Winner: ABode Hotels
  • Large Business Award Winner: Sodexo UK & Ireland



February 2011

Not so Secret Service - Lou Willcock meets Michel Roux's 'Service' Trainees

It was both a privilege and a treat to be a guest at last week’s private screening of the final episode of Michel Roux’s Service.  Rubbing shoulders with some of the great names in hospitality, such as Roy Ackerman and Fred Sirieix, engendered a feeling in the room of being part of something very special.

Throughout the eight-part series on BBC2, it was interesting to see just how deeply the service message touches ALL areas of the hospitality industry.  Excellence in service is not just about 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants - it’s everywhere, whether you operate in a fast-food environment, event catering, a local cafe, or indeed a hospitality software business such as ours.  Wherever there are customers to interact with and satisfy, there will be service expectations to meet and excel.  I spent the evening alongside representatives from Lexington and CH&Co, two contract caterers who have certainly understood how to put into effective practice the values of service excellence, and they have both grown rapidly as a result.  It pays to understand just what an important message this is.

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the evening itself felt like a call to action from the Academy of Food & Wine Service (which initiated the Service series).  The trainees had done their bit - they had undergone weeks of training, often in somewhat unrealistic circumstances (would you really run the front of house of a busy restaurant after just one morning of induction?) - and here they were, waiting to show the world the outcome of their endeavours.  Three scholarships were awarded, but in reality all seven trainees were winners, each of them bursting with anticipation and excitement about the next part of their journey.  I chatted to Brook, Ashley, Tom and most of the trainees from the series, all of them with sparkles in their eyes as they discussed their futures and where they might end up.

At IndiCater we get it.  We get the message that there is talent out there, but it needs nurturing if we are going to attract, train and then maintain the highest levels of service standards that our industry demands.  IndiCater is doing its best to help, working closely with Oxford Brookes University on its hospitality student mentoring programme and providing the IT structure needed for the 250+ students and mentors to communicate with one another across the programme.  

Through initiatives like Michel Roux’s Service series, and the Oxford Brookes University mentoring programme, the future is looking promising.  But everyone in the industry needs to embrace the message.  Mary Portas, in her current TV series Secret Shopper (Channel 4)  - which focuses on the high street - used LEON’S as an example to the retail sector of how customer service should be.  With this kind of recognition, let’s keep the momentum going across all sectors of the hospitality industry. Fred Sirieix started the evening off by showing guests and trainees a video of how to start a movement.  Take a look at it now, and let’s keep the hospitality service movement going.


February 2011

Tim West from Lexington talks about IndiCater

If you are thinking about back of house hospitality management software then check out what positive things Lexington have to say about us.



January 2011

IndiCater help Mentoring programme makes it mark

Dr Judie Gannon is the programme co-ordinator for the Bacchus Mentoring programme in the Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism at Oxford Brookes University. IndiCater have been supporting this programme and in particular Lou Willcock, one of the founders and a Director of IndiCater has been very involved in the Bacchus Alumni Committee, along with Tim West of Lexington and Peter Chapman of The Chefs Net.

In a recent article Judie explains how it all started, and reveals how the much-lauded programme helps final year undergraduates ease into their future careers. She says "I’m delighted that the Bacchus Mentoring Scheme in 2010 has grown to include ninety-six mentors. The Lancaster London was the perfect setting for the 2010 launch and provided wonderful surroundings for bringing mentors, all senior figures from the international hospitality and tourism industry, and their mentees together for the first time."

To read more - click here.



January 2011

IndiCater and Bennett Hay prepare for take off.....

What does a new company need from the start?  Efficient back office systems.  And integrated hotel services start-up Bennett Hay has just that in the form of IndiCater’s web based software.

Robin Hay, Director at Bennett Hay explained, “We know from experience that if the back office systems aren’t there from the start, the task of sorting this out gets increasingly onerous as the company grows.  IndiCater has a track record of working with fledgling companies and helping them put in place efficient operating systems that facilitate faster growth from the word go, and that made a lot of sense to us.

“We know there’s a lot of scope in the hotel services/soft FM sector for a boutique operator, in the same way there are a number of boutique operators specifically within the contract catering sector.  Currently within managed services, most companies have no choice but to go with one of the larger operators but that’s not always the best fit for them, so the Bennett Hay offer is targeting this market segment.  The deal we’ve signed with IndiCater helps us ensure that from an operational perspective, we’re using technology to maximise efficiency, be responsive, and run the business with minimal central overheads from day one.”

Initially Bennett Hay will use IndiCater’s financial reporting, communications and intranet, and employment/HR modules.  

Mike Day, Chief Executive of IndiCater commented, “Our web-based systems cut out the need for major IT investment and offer clients great flexibility; especially important to start-up companies like Bennett Hay.  We’ve worked with a number of fledgling companies, some even from their inception, and the feedback we’ve received is that our systems have been an instrumental factor in helping them achieve their growth – in fact, we can say that over the past 10 years that IndiCater has been in existence, we’ve grown alongside many of these companies, adjusting and developing our packages to meet both they and their clients ever-changing needs.”

Robin Hay and Anthony Bennett both have an exemplary background in hotels, contract catering and facilities management working with some of the largest FM companies. They have worked together for the last 15 years where they have built a reputation for building successful, high quality client centric businesses.  After holding senior Director roles at Compass Group they both moved to MITIE Group where they established a national catering and soft services business growing it to a turnover of £50 million in the UK. They have now turned their attention to creating a niche boutique FM business, namely Bennett Hay, which brings together hotel style support services within the workplace. 


December 2010

A letter to Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine from Charles Mobbs - Chairman of Indicater.

"The BBC carried a story this week "Cloud computing could give EU a 763 billion euro boost". Personally, I have no idea how such a number gets calculated, but hopefully it was done on some remote server by a company offering "Software as a Service" (SaaS), which is the modern way of computing. For the layman, cloud computing and SaaS are one and the same, but much less of a recent innovation than the story implies – certainly in the hospitality sector.

IndiCater has been offering (and only offering!) SaaS for over a decade now, and the impact it has on our hospitality clients - contract caterers, retail operators, hotel groups, theme parks etc - is significant, as they can adopt and use software modules which they want when they need them. SaaS is scalable, you only pay for what you select, you don’t need internal IT resource, specialist equipment or expensive personnel, and IT investment becomes a continuing operating expenditure that rises and falls with demand. Very handy in today’s world!

Moving to the Cloud is indeed a cultural shift for some organisations, but credit where credit is due please - the hospitality industry is a trail blazer in business and technology terms after all."


November 2010

IndiCater wins major deal in healthcare and education sectors

IndiCater has secured a major deal with G4S, which specialises in facilities management in government, healthcare and education sectors.

IndiCater's software packages are forming the backbone of G4S's management control and administration systems at four sites initially – Northwick Park Hospital in North London and three North Wiltshire Schools.

Charles Mobbs, chairman of IndiCater said: "We're very excited by these developments. There is huge scope to grow the business with this important client. "The beauty of our system is that with minimal adjustments and set up time, we can deliver a bespoke solution to every outlet for a very low cost and with our systems being web-based, there is no need for costly new hardware expenditure."


October 2010

Lucy Gemmell: Telling the story of Rhubarb, expanding the business in troubled times.
Entrepreneurs Forum Special Report

Once again IndiCater was proud to sponsor the October Entrepreneurs forum with speaker Lucy Gemmell.

In a very open and humble manner, Lucy Gemmell spoke to a captivated audience yesterday morning on the trials and tribulations of expanding a business known for its creativity and personal touch into new markets and sectors. Having recently won the catering contract at the Royal Albert Hall and being a veteran advisor of 7 Summer and Winter Olympics, Lucy is uniquely placed to discuss the highs and lows of running a small company.

Read more here...........


June 2010

"You have to be prepared to change to be successful"
Entrepreneurs Forum Special Report.

IndiCater were delighted to sponsor the latest in a series of Entrepreneurs Forums held in partnership with EP magazine in London this month.

Attended by many of the leading entrepreneurs from the hospitality industry, the forum heard from Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London who has been involved with two of the great entrepreneurs of our time - Gerald Ronson and Sir Terence Conran.

In a fascinating discussion, Des shares his views on gut versus corporate planning; joint ventures; overseas growth and other topics with an entrepreneurial focus.

Click here to read more........