F&B experts from luxury hotel operators across the globe shared tips for creating and maintaining distinct experiences to keep revenue flowing.
GLOBAL REPORT—Food-and-beverage operations can be a cost center for some hotels, but for luxury hotel operators such as Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, The Peninsula Hotels and The Upper House, fine-dining operations contribute a good amount to overall revenue.
At Taj Hotels, which has more than 300 restaurants across its portfolio, F&B makes up approximately 40% of total revenue, said Puneet Chhatwal, CEO and managing director.
The company is known for “pioneering global and regional cuisines and concepts in India,” and prides itself on being a leader in the luxury F&B segment.
“For over a century, (Taj) has introduced many firsts and notable (options), amongst which were Sichuan, contemporary Japanese, Mediterranean, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine,” he said. “Golden Dragon was India’s first Sichuan restaurant at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. Incidentally the iconic hotel also houses Mumbai’s first licensed bar—Harbour Bar—and India’s first 24-hour coffee shop, Shamiana.”
Maintaining quality F&B offerings
To keep revenues flowing in from F&B, it’s important for luxury hotels to make sure their offerings are up to par for guests, which includes the overall dining experience, sources said.
James Overbaugh, director of global F&B operations at The Peninsula Hotels, said F&B options do well across his company’s portfolio because they cater to “the luxury global traveler.”
“At Peninsula Hotels, we begin by looking at the experiential aspect of dining, knowing that the right experience results in an emotional connection with the guest, solidifying a memory they will carry with them for years,” he said. “We then pay very close attention to every detail that goes into planning of the restaurant, with all facets designed to support the overall guest experience.”
Yvonne Cheung, director of restaurants at The Upper House in Hong Kong, said creating and maintaining a quality F&B operation means being willing to evolve and adapt to the wants and needs of customers.
“Our team members must ask ourselves each day how we can be better and where we can fine true tune,” she said. “In this business, much of what we do internally is part of a daily grind. Reminding ourselves that we have the ability to offer something new and special to others is a joy, but also a fight against entropy.”
She added that a love for hospitality, celebrating the staff and striving for perfection is part of keeping luxury F&B programs up to standards.
Bringing in local guests
Pleasing guests of the hotel is one part of the luxury F&B job, but attracting locals and other non-guests is another way luxury hotels drive revenue.
Taj properties encourage guests from outside the hotel to come in for a meal by offering promotions at the corporate and local level, Chhatwal said.
“Our global reward program Epicure is exclusively designed for diners,” he said. “It is a global program to give our guests a chance to earn rewards at our restaurants around the world.”
Peninsula Hotels opens its restaurants and bars to the public, Overbaugh said, adding that the hotels attract outside guests by staying on top of F&B trends and providing “ever-changing menus.”
“Some of our properties occasionally participate in local programs, such as New York Restaurant Week at The Peninsula New York and Dine LA at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, because they are fantastic opportunities to attract a wider customer base in those locations who might not have eaten at the restaurant yet,” he said.
Overbaugh added that Peninsula properties also offer special promotions tied to holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve for guests and non-guests to enjoy.
The Upper House Hong Kong’s Café Gray Deluxe has a strong local following, Cheung said, and the majority of its customers are non-guests.
“We are in our ninth year of operation at the Café Gray Deluxe, and we are so grateful for the amazing loyalty of so many of our regulars,” she said. “Loyalty goes both ways, so we are mindful that word of mouth is always powerful. While we may not recognize first-time visitors, we want them to feel as special as our guests who have come one hundred times.”