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  • Danielle Hess

How F&B’s role in hotels is changing

This roundup of content takes a look at how hoteliers are changing and adapting their F&B offerings to meet the wants and needs of guests.

Food and beverage is a large part of the hotel experience, and hoteliers do their best to provide guests with unique options and dining experiences, starting with breakfast and extending into the night.

Here’s a roundup of F&B-related stories featured on Hotel News Now within the last six months:

Guests staying at select-service and extended-stay hotels have become accustomed to having the most important meal of the day as part of their stay, and trends in free hotel breakfasts continue to evolve.

“It’s two extremes in what guests want,” said Peter Marino, SVP of operations for Paramount Hotel Group. “The trends are either going toward items like bacon or to Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. There isn’t much demand anymore for sweet breads, such as donuts and Danish, and guests aren’t eating as much cereal. It’s either the artery-clogging bacon or the good-for-you-fruit.”

Brands want their properties to stick to script when it comes to brand standards, but that’s not always the case when it comes to breakfast offerings and pleasing the customer.

“For us, it’s mostly special event-driven,” Marino said. “During reunion weekend at Princeton University, we serve special omelets to guests at our Residence Inn. These folks are there for three nights paying $500 a night, so it’s important to provide them with a great breakfast. We only do it for a very special event like this.”

Guests might be willing to stick around for free breakfast, but they might not be as inclined to stay at the hotel for lunch, which is why some hoteliers have found ways to bring in a lunch crowd made up of guests outside of the hotel.

The Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport underwent a $75-million renovation in 2016, which included revamping the hotel’s previously closed-off dining area to a more open space, which has drawn people in for lunch, said Jeff Rostek, regional VP of full-service franchise operations at Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

“Wherever you are, if you’re at the front-desk pod checking in, you can see the lounge, you can see the market and you can see the dining room,” he said. “So you get that great buzz and kind of energizing feeling when you walk into the hotel.”

Roomservice was a necessity for hotels in the past, but some hotels are changing with the times to offer alternatives such as grab-and-go options and dropping roomservice altogether.

“People are looking for something a little faster,” said Joseph Rael, director of financial performance, consulting & analytics at STR. “If you order roomservice, you’re waiting 30 to 40 minutes for your meal, whereas with grab-and-go, you can pick up on your way out and you’re good to go.”

Chris Green, principal and COO of Chesapeake Hospitality, said his company put an emphasis on grab-and-go a few years ago and has seen “huge returns.”

“I’ve got a full-service, 275-room hotel where over the past four years revenues have gone from 50/50 (between roomservice and grab-and-go sales), to now, where roomservice is about 10% of our grab-and-go sales. Our grab-and-go sales have quadrupled over the past four years.”

Hoteliers are also extending their F&B options to people outside the hotels by outside food delivery services such as Grubhub, UberEATS and DoorDash.

This is a fairly new practice for many hotels, but sources said these relationships could become more and more profitable as guests move away from roomservice and more toward on-demand online ordering.

“There are hotels who’ve done a great job of letting the guest order from a smart device, so you can have the food delivered to you on the property. That’s an excellent industry response, but that does take investment and foresight,” said F&B consultant Aaron Allen, head of Aaron Allen & Associates.

“There’s a tremendous amount more variety available through delivery than a hotel could possibly hope to match or offer. Any time there’s a disruptive technology, a certain segment of the industry will try to cling to the way it was before, but you can’t stop change. There’s a way of embracing it.”

F&B is a large source of revenue for many luxury hotels, which is why it’s important for these hotels to maintain fine-dining standards and create repeat guests, inside and outside of the hotel.

The Upper House in Hong Kong’s Café Gray Deluxe draws most of its business from an outside crowd and has a strong local following, said Yvonne Cheung, director of restaurants at the hotel.

“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.”

F&B makes up 40% of total revenue at Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, which is why the company prides itself on being a leader in the luxury F&B segment, said Puneet Chhatwal, CEO and managing director for Taj.

“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.”

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