Hotel restaurants are a hot topic within the hospitality industry. Long criticized for high prices, but underwhelming cuisine, owners and operators are putting lots of energy and money towards reinventing their on-site hotel restaurant. From sourcing food locally to designing inviting communal spaces, operators are hoping to stir up some excitement that will encourage guests to dine in-house, entice the local community, and, most importantly, stimulate the flow of profits to the bottom line.
We know the topic of food and beverage (F&B) may not grab the attention of some hoteliers simply because they don’t operate a restaurant. However, we believe that every independent hotel, even those without a restaurant, should develop and execute an F&B strategy. Even though a hotel may not serve food, operators can still think outside the box and influence their guests’ dining decisions, which will help enhance their overall hospitality experience.
For many hoteliers without restaurants, their F&B strategy begins and ends with their in-room directories. Though a listing of nearby dining options is useful, it’s really hard to get a sense of the food, service and atmosphere from a quarter page ad. So instead of allowing guests to guess where they can find a great meal, hoteliers should leverage this opportunity to engage with these hungry travelers.
A reoccurring theme on our blog is the importance of networking. In developing this unconventional F&B strategy, operators will need to engage their neighboring restauranteurs, so having established relationships will help the process run smoothly. The core concept hoteliers should present is the opportunity drive more traffic into their restaurant. Each hotel-restaurant relationship will vary slightly, but hoteliers should generally ask restauranteurs to supply them with incentives, like “50% off an appetizer” or “$5 off an entrée” coupons, copies of menus and eye-catching marketing materials, like full-color food images, that front desk team members can use to sell guests on a great dining experience. In exchange for referrals, hotel operators can ask restauranteurs for gift cards that can be used to reward team members who work the hardest at engaging guests and helping to enhance their dining experience.
In developing relationships with restaurants, hotel operators must treat this referral system as an extension of their on-property hospitality and only engage with eateries that they trust and would personally recommend. After coordinating the referral system with each restaurant, hoteliers can begin marketing to their guests internally. As guests check-in, have front desk agents briefly mention the great local dining options and ask them to stop by later in the day for more information. In each guest room, placing a table card or an insert within the directories, as well as including a message on the in-hotel TV channel, stating “Ask us about great local restaurants at the front desk.” is another way to let guests know the hotel team is ready to help with dining suggestions. And as managers interact with guests throughout the day, consistently recommending your trusted restaurant partners will help send traffic their way.
This type of partnership is fairly easy to put into action, but it takes teamwork and trust between the hotel and restaurants to sustain its success and ensure every guest has a great experience.