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The Hospitality Purchasing Managers Forum’s (HPMF) annual convention at Kochi leaves behind a blazing trail

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Over 250 delegates from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE attended the Kochi convention, which rose to the mantle of becoming the most talked about fiesta in the almanac of the Hospitality Procurement industry.

If you have ever been a part of the HPMF annual conventions and awards, you can say with conviction that a better impresario of organizational annual shindigs would be hard to come by. The Hospitality Purchasing Managers annual event has come to epitomise the symbiosis of business and pleasure. Since its inception nine years ago, each of its conventions has been a fantastic capstone worthy of the national project that the Forum has become with the mission to provide leadership development in procurement and help the purchase managers to focus on better procurement benchmarks for the hospitality industry.

The organization in a short span of time has been able to carve an industry identity and reputation that is nothing short of glowing. All thanks to its managing committee helmed by members who are a gigantic fire hose of spirited enthusiasm and cheerleaderish conviviality. Led by its chipper and livewire dynamo Nitin Shanker Nagrale as the General Secretary and Founder, the organization is known to keep stretching the goals for creative ingenuity at its annual convention. According to Jaideep Gupta of the HPMF managing committee, “In conducting our annual event, we always look for unique locations and this year we decided on Kochi. This is HPMF’s first convention in south India and is being supported by the tourism department of Kerala. Our region-themed event will showcase and celebrate Kerala’s culture through its food, dance, attire and colours. The menu for this convention was planned over three months with not a single dish being repeated.”

The three days of the power-packed HPMF convention were punctuated by interesting discussions, workshops, presentations and B2B meetings in the morning and afternoon with speakers rhapsodising from the high church of thought leadership on an eclectic menu of procurement and hospitality-related issues. One such presentation by Lebana Penkar, VP – HR, Adfactors PR, stood out for its full throated impassioned assertion for more women participation in the male-dominated procurement industry. In all, over 250 delegates from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE attended the Kochi convention, which rose to the mantle of becoming the most talked about fiesta in the almanac of the hospitality procurement industry.

On display were guts, gumption and loads of chutzpah with vivifying experiences at every turn. Like its past editions, this year convention in Kochi at the ethereally water-fronted Grand Hyatt had a passel of exciting itineraries and activities, all wrapped in a shimmy of novelty. And for three days on the trot, the easy-going placid backwaters of Kochi was set alight by a series of divertissements designed to send the pulse racing and the spirits soaring. Who would think of holding a rousing clambake at a derelict ghost of a railway station and pulling off the stunt with panache and pizzazz.

The inaugural evening of the event kicked off with a retro-chic fanfaronade at the 76-year-old Cochin Harbour Terminus, which was spruced up for the event by the HPMF team in collaboration with the railways. The Harbour Terminus station had been lying mothballed for many years but has now been given a fresh lease of life thanks to the HPMF selecting it as a venue for its Day One event. “It took us 12 days to clean up the railway station which was closed for 13 years but it’s a heritage place and we are proud to have pulled it off, thanks to our Kerala Chapter team,” said Nagrale. The station was decked up as a functioning platform with train announcements, food distribution on trolleys, book stalls and porters with high jinks song, music and dance entertainment as well as the giddy doo-dahs and gigs to titillate the senses and taste buds.

Day-out Kerala backwaters - HPMF 2019
Day-out Kerala backwaters – HPMF 2019

There were many other memorable signposts and star turns to tick through the three-day-long convention. The second day began with a visit to the famous Ayappah temple and a traditional south India communal morning repast in the temple’s kitchen. The afternoon saw a sumptuous ethnic platter laid out at the cavernous commissary of the convention hotel with many innovative riffs on the classic Kerala cuisine. The evenings were bookended by glittering ceremonies and carnivalesque extravaganzas, including the presentation of the Procurement Excellence Awards and a special felicitation of nine outstanding sportspersons in different fields who have brought laurels to the country.

The morning of the final day of Kochi convention saw a buoyant water spectacle with friendly boat races organized for the delegates. It was a fitting finale and a well-deserved parting shot to the magic of the Kochi backwaters. So, until next year, when the 10th edition of HPMF convention is teed up, in Dubai of all places, trust the team to bring to the table more helpings of inventiveness and novelty to their feted jamboree, and another master class in the procurement schmooze fest.

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