F&B doesn’t have to be a loss leader, but too many hoteliers treat it as such and let that revenue go to the local pizzeria instead.
The hospitality industry has traditionally looked at food and beverage as a loss leader, something provided as a convenience. This type of defeatist thinking results in potential revenue walking out the door.
Guests are people, and people love good food, drink and experiences.
Last year, Valor Hospitality Partners created an internal F&B company with Leigh Allan as the global F&B director and Matt Gray as the global culinary director. A team of experts supports them in training, design, ad agency support for naming and collateral design, positioning and a media team focused on social media and digital marketing. Our goal is simple: keeping our guests in-house, and if the property has an external entrance and street presence, attracting locals.
Trends in F&B have become more diverse, sophisticated and relevant, so our hotels must do the same. You can’t succeed with microwaved food, limited choice, brightly-lit dining rooms that feel like IKEA, canteens, poor service (or no service) and as much atmosphere as a vacuum. I teach my teams that these conditions are a recipe for an exodus. Your guests will leave your property and find a restaurant or bar to spend their money.
It might be a sports bar serving a great burger, wings and a selection of drafts. Why doesn’t your property have that offering? Trust me—your guests would rather stay in-house without the hassle of walking or taking a cab/Uber/Lyft elsewhere. But go they will, and you’ll see revenue going out the door.
We believe in always catering to guest needs––in accommodations, food and beverage and exemplary service. We work hard ensuring every stay is comfortable and enjoyable. That’s insurance for increased revenues and return visits.
If your hotel enjoys a high street retail location with street access and visibility, don’t think like a hotelier in creating your restaurant. Be like Valor Hospitality and think like a restaurant development and operations company. Develop a unique restaurant bar and lounge concept. Plan, design, develop, market and open it with a focus on outside guests. If your restaurant attracts locals, it will be an instant hit with your guests seeking a good restaurant recommendation.
Out of town visitors are inherently stressed when deciding dining choices. Making mistakes is easy. They will love a great dining experience without ever leaving the building.
And you’ll love it, too.
In all our restaurant designs, we strive to please business travelers, especially if they’re alone. Aside from breakfasts, traditional room service should be allowed to die. Unless you have a luxury resort where one can dine on the suite’s balcony overlooking Lake Como, room service needs to be simple, slick and convenient.
Why do so many guests get pizza delivery? Because it’s easy. And when they do, another business makes dough from your guest (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Design your kitchen with a pizza oven. Create a 10-item dinner menu sent in a delivery box or bag attached to an inexpensive hotel-branded cooler for any drinks ordered. When the guest answers the door, get a quick signature and—sans other charges—leave. You’ll be amazed how the power of suggestion and easy convenience will result in more guests eating in-room.
But we want all travelers, especially those by themselves who historically hid away in their rooms for fear of feeling self-conscious or out of place, to move away from room service and hang with us. To encourage that, we create multiple seating types and configurations, including lounge seats, sofas, quiet corners or communal powered-up tables. Guests have seating options. We make the environment welcoming and comfortable, and they love it.
No one ever really wants to stay in their room, but the old hotel model and way of thinking forced them into confinement. Four seats at a hard table make the guest feel like a loose impediment. It doesn’t matter if a guest is sitting in an empty restaurant or a busy one filled with unhappy diners. Don’t make guests confine to your rigid environmental order; give them options to sit as they please. They’ll stay longer and probably spend more.
We’ve had incredible success with our approach. On many midweek nights, we see scores of single travelers relaxed and working on their laptops, reading newspapers and sipping drinks, or knocking back bowls of tasty spaghetti. Each person is enjoying their own tranquil and comfortable space.
Unbelievably, we even see guests start to interact with each other and become social–– imagine that!
Our success in F&B excellence has resulted in receiving requests to develop and design standalone restaurants and bar concepts.
Trust me—if you can think like a restaurateur about creating and developing your F&B offerings, you'll serve yourself success.
It’s time the hospitality industry lost its thinking of F&B as a loss leader.
Euan McGlashan is co-founder and managing partner of Valor Hospitality Partners, a hotel development and management company based in Atlanta and London that owns and operates properties in the U.S., Europe, and Africa, with an additional 10 sites in various stages of negotiation, development, or construction. Additionally, a related company—PMR Hospitality Partners based in Cape Town—operates several hotels and resorts in Africa.
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