Independent hoteliers can boost F&B and meetings bookings and encourage guests to stay on-property by offering a variety of complimentary games in public spaces.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Independent hotels are boosting food and beverage revenue and enticing guests to spend more time on-property by offering complimentary games in public spaces.
Heart of America Group is one company using gaming to their advantage, said brand manager Michelle Sparkman. Hotel Renovo in Urbandale, Iowa, which opened in August 2015, has a bocce court and a ping pong table outside the property that guests can use free of charge.
“We’ve had the bocce ball court since we opened,” she said. “The bocce ball court is actually right outside of our bar, so you know, people grab a couple of drinks and head out to the bocce ball court to just kind of relax and unwind.”
Sparkman said the court is next to a fire pit and can be used by guests during the day and at night. The ping pong table is located in the property’s apple orchard, and Sparkman said families usually use it because it is close to the pool.
Boosts in F&B, guests staying on-property
Some guests don’t initially know there is a bocce court at Hotel Renovo until they arrive, but once they realize it’s close to the bar and fire pit, Sparkman said many guests spend a good amount of time in that area.
“(Guests) may already have plans the first night (of their stay,) but then they may choose to stay (on-property) because at one time, four people can play bocce ball,” she said. “But we’ve also got plenty of seating around it, and like I said, the fire pit and the bar seating. I’d say it’s definitely raised our F&B, because it’s a reason for people to stay and not go elsewhere.”
The Cloister at Sea Island* in Sea Island, Georgia, offers bingo, board games, bocce and over-sized outdoor chess, said Merry Tipton, director of marketing communications at Sea Island. While all types of guests enjoy the games, families in particular tend to make use of them while enjoying the hotel’s F&B options.
“Guests tend to enjoy snacking and drinking while they participate in games, particularly in the evenings when music is playing in the lobby and we have the bars set up,” she said via email.
She said bingo is the most popular game at Sea Island, and it’s been played at the resort for more than 50 years.
Work and play
Groups come to hotels to host meetings and often look for activities to provide an element of fun for attendees, which is where games can come in handy, sources said.
“We have a lot of groups that come in, and they’ll try to tie (bocce) into their meetings so that they have some sort of activity for everybody to do rather than everybody just standing around all night,” Sparkman said.
At Hotel Zephyr in the Fisherman’s Warf district of San Francisco groups use games such as giant Connect Four and ping pong played on a spherical table as team building activities, Jill Plemons, director of sales and marketing at Hotel Zephyr, said. The hotel also has a table-sized labyrinth, board games, billiards and shuffle board, all of which were added last year when the hotel underwent a $32 million renovation, she said.
“(Having games) really sets us apart from the other chain properties in Fisherman’s Warf,” she said. “There are only nine properties (in Fisherman’s Warf,) and a lot of the other properties are bigger boxes that are more your standard hotel.”
*Correction, 8 August 2016: A previous version of this story named the incorrect Sea Island property.