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Celebrating the art of procurement in God’s Own Country

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The ninth edition of the annual convention of Hospitality Purchasing Managers’ Forum (HPMF) was held recently at Grand Hyatt Bolgatty in Kochi, its first convention in south India. The well scripted convention in Kerala was definitely a precursor to what to expect at the Forum’s 10th anniversary convention next year in Dubai. By Steena Joy

The Hospitality Purchasing Managers’ Forum (HPMF) converged as one Family in Kochi this October for the ninth edition of its annual convention. The four-day event was attended by more than 250 delegates from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE. The theme of the convention was Vasudeva Kutumbakam, which means ‘The World is One Family’. Previous editions of the convention were held in Varanasi, Jodhpur and Bhubaneswar.
The convention saw various knowledge sessions and presentations by industry experts on the latest trends in hospitality procurement. There were also B2B meets with over 40 vendor partners attending the event including Bisleri, Harman Technologies, Oriental Lotus, VKL, Eagle Forgings, Roca Bathroom Products, Kwality Dryfruits, Paradigm Techsolutions among others.
With support from the tourism department of Kerala, the convention showcased the culture of the state through food, dance, attire and colours of Kerala. “We planned the menu for this convention over the last three months. Not even a single dish was repeated.,” said Dr Nitin Nagrale, founder and general secretary, HPMF. In keeping with HPMF’s convention history of showcasing the culture of the host destination, the first day saw guided tours for delegates to Fort Kochi and its attractions like St Francis Church, the Naval Museum and Greenix Cultural Village with shows on the martial and puppetry arts of Kerala. A visit to Kumbalangi, India’s first eco tourism village was also part of the attractions.

Unique MICE ‘platform’
A gala dinner was arranged at a unique MICE venue, the old Cochin Harbour Terminal which the Government of Kerala is now renting out for events. The arrangements were all done in keeping with the theme of a railway station including entry with platform tickets and a purchase manager posing as a station master!
The convention opened officially on October 11 with the auspicious visit to the Shri Ayappa Temple for pooja and havan. The organisers recreated a temple festival atmosphere complete with caparisoned elephants and percussionists playing on the traditional drums or melams.
The opening ceremony saw lighting of the lamp by chief guest Jose Dominic, founder of Casino Group of Hotels (CGH); other guests of honour included Padmashree Dr Rajanikant, Lion Pankaj Mehta, Jay Raman, MD, Oriental Lotus and Mohan Deshpande, chairman, HPMF. In his opening address, Deshpande said, “When we set up HPMF in 2012, we could never have imagined that it would grow to be such a huge movement. In a short phase of nine years, we have grown to over 2600 members with Chapters in both India and overseas. Since last three years we have endeavoured to take our conventions outside Mumbai and to offer new destinations as experiences so that they are eagerly awaited events. Kerala is set to surpass that expectation.”

Special initiatives
Addressing the audience Dr Nagrale said, “This Kochi edition is very special on many counts. We will be honouring nine sports personalities or Navratnas for representing India and shining internationally. We are also launching the Global Sustainability Council and the chairperson will be Mala Singh. In another unique initiative, we have made a representation to the Govt of India to encourage the hospitality industry to buy only local arts and crafts. We will sign a pledge that from now onwards that we will not import such arts from any other country but promote India’s own arts and crafts. Another first for the convention is the app we have developed for the event so that all delegates remain connected. We are also launching our
interactive website.”
He admitted that Kochi was by far the most difficult convention mainly because of the communication challenge and also to find a unique historical venue for the gala dinner. “It took us 12 days to clean up the railway station which was closed for 13 years but it’s an heritage place and we are proud to have pulled it off, thanks to our Kerala Chapter team,” he applauded.
Dominic congratulated HPMF for rediscovering a new venue – the Cochin Harbour Terminus. “I am sure it will soon be the most sought after wedding destination or convention destination of Kochi all thanks to the efforts of HPMF in doing the unusual and taking a leadership role which purchase management is all about.”
He added, “Procurement is also serious business. Purchase managers look for best quality at the lowest price but there is more to it than buying at low prices. The fraternity must strive to create excellence for enterprises, destinations and communities. Purchase managers can help in benefitting the community through their purchase function.” He cited the example of Chendamangalam, a handloom weavers’ town in Kerala which was badly affected by floods last year but in 12 months the weavers regained their feet and livelihood because the cotton mundus (dhotis) made there were procured by the hospitality industry in the state as a measure of bringing relief to such people. “So now the mundus and sarees from there are achieving record sales. The purchase forum thus has an important role in creating excellence and giving back to the community,” he said.
The inaugural ceremony was followed by the Sadya, the traditional Kerala feast. Specially curated using ingredients from specific vendors, the spread had over 26 food items eaten on banana leaves.

A fitting finale
The second session had B2B meetings interspersed with presentations and panel discussions. The discussion on ‘Is HPMF doing enough for the hospitality procurement fraternity’ was conducted in an out-of-the-box courtroom style where the panelists/purchase managers were summoned one by one to the witness stand for cross examination and the audience was the jury. Brigadier Sushil Bhasin, author of the bestseller The Million Dollar Second, gave a timely presentation on Importance of Time in SCM while motivational speaker Amit Pandey spoke about Sustainable Happiness in an interactive session.
The evening ended with the much awaited Procurement Excellence Awards which was a black tie event followed by a sit down dinner. Nine famous sportspersons were also honoured for their outstanding contribution to Team India. The next day’s highlights included a session by Jaspal Sabherwal on Understanding the History and Future of Networks and a presentation by Lebana Penkar, On My Own Terms. The last day saw the HPMF members participating in Kerala’s famous Snake Boat racing on the backwaters that had the adrenaline pumping and provided a fitting finale to another successful convention.


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