3 Keys to Enhancing Your Independent Hotels’ Food and Beverage Program

At a glance, independent hotels and restaurants complement each other extremely well.  When travelers are away from home, restaurants provide a place for dining and entertainment.  However, as many hoteliers have experienced, operating in-hotel restaurants presents challenges that differ from standalone eateries.  Hotel guests have long griped that in-hotel restaurants are overpriced, lacking in food quality and underwhelming in service.  True or not, in-hotel food and beverage (F&B) programs have long-suffered from this stigma, so independent hotels are now making strides toward changing this perception.

Independent hotels are partnering with foodservice providers to rebrand their on-site restaurants and manage F&B operations.  These partnerships are allowing independent hotels to focus on booking rooms and taking care of guests while their foodservice providers elevate food quality and service, capture revenue from guests and attract members of the local community.
If it’s time to enhance your independent hotels’ on-site restaurant and F&B program, here are three keys to selecting the best foodservice partner:

First and foremost, there must be a great fit between independent hotels and their foodservice providers.  Rebranded, newly managed in-hotel restaurants cannot afford to be labeled as “just another hotel restaurant,” so both partners must have the ability to work together and strive toward achieving the same goals.  Secondly, the new F&B program must seamlessly blend with existing hotel operations.  From branding and level of service to cuisine selection and menu pricing, the F&B concept has to appeal to the type of guests who stay at the hotel and the flavor of local community.

Handing over operations is challenging for many hotel operators, so a great deal of flexibility is needed to ensure the relationship with their foodservice partner is mutually beneficial and sustainable.  Independent hotels and foodservice providers will need to agree on a wide range of terms and conditions, including management fees, operations structure, food costs, vendor selection, budget oversight, hiring and repairs & maintenance.  The more flexibility allowed in negotiations by independent hotels and foodservice providers, the more opportunities both parties have for success.

As mentioned above, the ability of an independent hotel’s restaurant to appeal to guests and the surrounding community is vital.  A major factor in achieving this is providing variety in food and service offerings.  Independent hotels must ask their foodservice partners to create an operations plan that details scheduled menu changes, pricing adjustments, seasonal and holiday menu offerings, local vendor sourcing, service enhancements, etc.  This will help independent hotels keep their partners accountable and ensure their F&B program remains fresh and vibrant.

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