Independent hotels should rely on crafting food-and-beverage experiences that will make guests and locals remember their dining experience.
The issue that many independent hotels face is creating a defining personality.
They can be well-appointed, in a great locale and have lots of interesting upgrades, but in the end, it’s the personality and charm of your food-and-beverage operations that will set you apart, determine your reputation, and help develop loyal and passionate customers.
Let’s look at who stays at an independent hotel and why. An independent hotel is typically smaller, with fewer than 250 rooms; and its guests are looking for a unique experience that they cannot get from the big brands, such as a different style—maybe local indigenous décor—and individualized service.
Guests love and will remember the experience of a unique and different property where each restaurant has its own personality. This goes against the grain when compared to the consistency and dependability of the big-brand hotels. For an independent hotel, it is vital that the experience be memorable.
Why is food and beverage so important? There are many reasons, but let’s start with the obvious. First, each meal should be an important part of any stay—and not just “eating,” but “dining.” Eating is a necessary function, whereas dining is experiential and should be an enjoyable and memorable event. This encounter can be touted, shared and photographed, or simply just enjoyed as a relaxing moment with the family.
Secondly, let’s talk about guest engagement. An average visit to the front desk takes fewer than five minutes. The average time spent in a restaurant engaging with your staff can be an hour or more, several times per day. The average person spends 32,098 hours of their life eating, so there is no better way to get to know your guests and retain their loyalty than in this kind of environment.
Lastly, great F&B will attract more dollars to your property. In this day and age, successful restaurant revenue can overtake the rooms revenue. The downside is that it is much less profitable than guestroom revenue, which is probably why owners and operators have shied away from it.
Over the past 20 years, hotel restaurants have gotten a bad rap due to short-sighted operators who simply want to save money and are not interested in doing things properly. Full-service hotels are now realizing that F&B is an important factor and is slowly becoming a focus once again. Without a great restaurant, your hotel is basically a select-service hotel with guestrooms just like many others.
Consider the additional F&B revenue that you’re bringing in, as well as the increase in rooms occupancy, which allows you to demand an increased rate as a result of your reputation. If you’re doing it correctly, this is marketing that you can’t buy and a win-win for everyone.
A great restaurant will bring any hotel an improved reputation and demand by word of mouth, which increases hotel occupancy and gives you the ability to demand higher rates.
To sum it all up, here are the top 10 reasons to support having great F&B venues:
1. Charisma: It gives your hotel personality, and is the face of your hotel.
2. Revenue: F&B can add substantial revenue to your hotel.
3. Guest satisfaction: Your guests need—and want—to eat!
4. Guest comfort and security: Guests want to be in an environment where they know the staff; it makes them feel at home and safe, especially in a new city.
5. Free marketing: Your restaurant should be newsworthy and social-media worthy.
6. Engagement: It's a great way to connect with your customers. The service staff can easily engage with guests and make memories.
7. Return guests: It's a great way to bring them back. When a guest feels connected, warm and welcome, it brings repeat business.
8. Being a part of the local community: A great restaurant is a place to frequent, has a strong link to its community and is a topic of discussion.
9. Nostalgia: If you are like me, you grew up in a time when eating out at a hotel was special. Let’s bring back those times.
10. Job satisfaction: For us F&B geeks, it creates a fun, vibrant and happy place to work with all of the glitz and glamour.
So, don't be short-sighted and look only at the big picture.
Understand that it is going to cost a little more, but it will bring in more revenue to the bottom line—in the rooms division and in F&B. Realize, however, that better guest satisfaction results in more guests. That results in more revenue, more occupied guestrooms, and all of that results in happy guests, happy owners and happy staff.
Russ Blakeborough, Managing Director, Focus F&B, has 30+ years of experience in this field and specializes in helping restaurants increase quality and profitability. Put his experience to work for you today. Contact him at www.focus-fb.com.
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