Colin Neill MBE is Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, the Northern Ireland trade body representing the NI Hospitality Industry. Colin’s focus is primarily on helping members and the wider industry rebuild after Covid, with a particular focus on staffing and skills.

Hospitality Ulster recently developed a NEW Hospitality Employers Charter, to demonstrate businesses committed to staff training and development as the sector rebuilds post pandemic.

In addition to his day-to-day operations of Hospitality Ulster, Colin is also responsible for the industries’ strategic lobby and spends a significant amount of time engaging with senior politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster.

In January 2022, Colin was awarded an MBE for Services to Hospitality in Northern Ireland.

  • What is the best thing about your current job?

The people - the hospitality industry is all about people and the people that work in it are simply amazing.

  • What was your first job in the hospitality/foodservice industry?

I was a waiter (age 13) in the Kings Arms Hotel in Larne – It is the closest I came to properly working in the industry. Whilst I talk a lot about hospitality in my current job, I couldn’t run a pub or restaurant to save my life.

  • Who has been your biggest influence during your career?

I think it’s enjoyment. I honestly have enjoyed every job I’ve had and that keeps me motivated.

  • What key piece of advice would you give the future generation of hospitality professionals?

Working in hospitality can be hard work but it can also be rewarding, it’s one of the few industries that you can start anywhere and work your way to the top.

  • What is your favourite restaurant or type of food?

I love good traditional food as long as it’s from local sources. But I’m not going to say my favourite venue, other than every member of Hospitality Ulster is my favourite!

  • What is your favourite dish?

I’ve a sweet tooth so it must be ‘white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake’.

  • What is your favourite drink?

Anything cold and refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.

  • What or who are you looking forward most to see or meet at IFEX 22?

That’s easy, the people. It’s the biggest networking event in the industry and you get a real buzz meeting so many people and finding out what’s going on in the industry.