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What does it take to carve out a niche in the highly competitive world of contract catering? For starters, imaginative food, superb venues, enthusiasm, experience and flair. You also need outstanding management systems.

Convex Leisure provide quality hospitality and food service at exclusive venues and outdoor events around the UK. With the addition of the Royal Over-Seas League to their portfolio of venues, the company was able to continue its successful development programme, with much of the necessary enthusiasm coming from the Business Development Manager, Jacqui Waby.

Jacqui has a solid background in the world of catering and events, having previously worked at Liverpool John Moores University, the King’s Fund and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, before coming on board with Convex Leisure and moving to a new role at Head Office. “It was a big change from the front line of a venue to head office. You really get to see the big picture,” she said.

Considering that Convex Leisure is a relatively new company, established in March 2003, their client list is impressive. In addition to handling full catering and venue management for the Royal Over-Seas League, the company is the official caterer for the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) and Pavilion Theatre, Eastbourne Borough Council, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The Magic Circle and the Royal College of Pathologists. Sporting events include the Hastings Direct Ladies’ International Tennis Championships, where Convex Leisure handles retail catering and corporate hospitality, as well as retail catering at Henley Royal Regatta and the International Horse Trials held at historic Blenheim Palace.

As well as the fixed-site contracts, the Special Events division of the business also provides catering and event management services at a range of prestigious venues and events, including the London Transport Museum.

To manage client venue diaries, Convex Leisure selected Rendezvous SaaS, the browser-based catering, meeting room and conference management solution developed, hosted and supported by NFS Hospitality.

Rendezvous was installed in March and Kate is very pleased with the speed and information capture aspects of the system. “We are capturing more information on every client,” Kate says, “and that puts us in a stronger marketing position. We can determine what proportion of our business comes from government, charities, agencies or whatever.”

New Technology Required to Meet Catering and Venue Needs

Initially, there was no requirement for any specialist software packages. However, as the company began to win full catering and venue management contracts, such as that for the Royal Over-Seas League, the scope of these contracts made Jacqui and her colleagues realise that only an automated booking system could handle the workflow and diary management.

“We manage all operational and sales and marketing activities at this venue,” she said. “This is an enormous responsibility.” The Royal Over-Seas League, located in the heart of London’s West End, operates as a private members’ club with two restaurants and nine elegant function rooms.

Jacqui knew of NFS Hospitality’s excellent reputation from her work at the King’s Fund and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, both long-term NFS clients. Now, however, having decided to buy a system, she was determined to be objective and compare all available software. “I knew I wanted all the functionality without the headaches and heavy investment. I particularly liked NFS’ hosted option as it meant no investment in hardware or IT infrastructure,” she noted. “It’s very economical.”

Rendezvous was installed on a hosted basis (ASP) in May 2005 and Jacqui was delighted. “It is a superb solution for our needs at the Royal Over-Seas League, and in the future we will be able to use it in all venues where we have diary responsibility,” she explained. “I know that the system is secure and up to date. Best of all, if there is a glitch, I know that NFS’ support team can view the system remotely. This saves an enormous amount of time.”

Excellent systems contribute to continued growth

Convex Leisure is growing steadily, added Jacqui. “We are continuing to win new catering and venue management contracts. I believe that our attention to detail and our excellent systems contribute to our success.”

Going forward, Jacqui is confident that Convex Leisure will continue to build its client portfolio on the basis of its high-profile clients – and its reputation for efficient management. “We already have a solid portfolio of prestigious and unique venues, and have established excellent relationships with our clients. We want to continue to build on these and further develop the business as we move forward.”

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