Drawn from almost 250 entries, Marqette, which is part of the Michael JF Wright Hospitality Group, is in with a chance of winning in three categories: Airport Food Hall of the Year, Airport Bar of the Year and Airport Food on the Go.
Win or lose, the progressive food hall located in Terminal 1 goes into awards as the only Irish entry in any of the categories and the only European operator nominated in the Food Hall category, proving that it is already not only a leader within the Irish airport industry but internationally too.
Marqette received another honour when General Manager Michael Thornton was invited to be a guest speaker at the FAB conference in Toronto, which will be held in Toronto from 21st to 23rd June.
The awards, which are cornerstone of the FAB Conference, will be presented on 22nd June during a gala dinner .
Before he jets off to Toronto, we chatted to Michael about how he plans to use this platform to share Marqette’s success story, what makes them different, and how airport dining changed in recent years.
How did it feel to asked to speak as a guest speaker at the FAB conference?
I was a bit taken aback to be honest. This is a massive industry that is monopolised by a number of global players. Marqette is, in these terms, a small operator and we have only been open since September 2015, so it was great to be asked.
We are the only Irish entry in any of the categories and the only European operator nominated in the Food Hall category.
We must be doing something right to have come to the attention of the Moodie Davitt Report, they are the hosts of the Awards. The Moodie Davitt Report is the voice and the source of reliable and real-time business intelligence, news and features on the global travel retail sector. Getting acknowledged and being featured by them has been a great endorsement for Marqette.
Have you attended the conference before?
Yes, I attended the conference last year in Geneva, it was a real eye opener to the airport hospitality industry. It was great to see the competition and what we need to do to meet and exceed their levels of hospitality.
What will you use this platform to speak about?
I have been asked to speak about why airports need independent operators and not just the global operators. I will also speak about what makes Marqette different and why it works so well.
I will highlight that we cook fresh Irish food in house every single day, that our suppliers are all local and that despite operating in such a busy environment we offer superior levels of customer service through our hostess and floor staff.
Why do you think Marqette stands out against its competitors?
It is a combination of factors really. The quick service model suits today’s passenger. Seeing fresh Irish food cooked in front of you in an airport is new and we also have a working bakery making thousands of scones, croissants and cakes from scratch in full view of passengers.
The décor, music, uniforms are not what you would expect in an Airport either and they all combine to make you feel that you are not in an airport environment. Finally, the greeting from the hostess and then helpful friendly staff all make for an enjoyable experience in an otherwise stressful environment.
What else about the conference are you looking forward to?
Making new contacts and listening to the other speakers talking about what they do and what new trends we can expect.
I also have a meeting arranged with an agency that could help Marqette break into new markets. However, if we win any of the awards we are nominated for then that will top the lot.
How was airport dining changed in recent years?
There is more choice and variety in airports now. It has become an experience and a destination for passengers instead of a convenience. The whole feel of airport dining now is more like the ‘high street’ and we need to operate with that mindset and continually adjust and improve our offer to stay ahead of the competition.
Given its setting, do you feel Marqette has a responsibility to make a leave a good impression on visitors to Ireland?
Definitely. Marqette is the final stop for the overseas visitor and I think they need one final reminder as to how good Irish produce and hospitality really is.
Are there airports globally that you would look to for inspiration for Marqette?
There are lots of good offers and we have been travelling recently to see what is out there. No one airport really stood out, it is more to do with individual units within airports that catch the eye. We didn’t look at any other airports when we were setting up Marqette, so far so good for the design team!
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.