Posts Tagged ‘ Hotel Guest Trends; Hotel To-Go

Are Your Guests Snacking While You’re Offering “Lunch” & “Dinner”?

Here’s a question for hotel F&B’s: am I offering services today that are significantly different from the standard hotel offerings on the day I was born? A restaurant with table service? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, maybe Sunday Brunch? A bar with bartender? Room service? A “gift” shop? No, these were around.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with these venerable services. And you’ve seen innovations like minibars, coffee kiosks, delis and mini-QSR’s in some hotels, especially larger hotels. But what if consumer habits have changed, and your services haven’t?

Listen up: according to a recent NPD study, as reported by Fern Glazer in Nation’s Restaurant News, the line between dayparts is beginning to blur, snack related visits now account for nearly 25% of QSR traffic, and this “discretionary meal occasion is not one operators can afford to ignore”.

Perhaps you’ll think of this as QSR data that doesn’t apply to hotel F&B, but really it’s about consumer behavior – consumers snacking when and where they can – in this case where snacking is encouraged. And by “snacks” I don’t mean peanuts or chips. In our hotel world, we know this as the growing popularity of tapas or “small plates”. And sliders. Skewers. Personal Pizza.

Listen up, Part II: this isn’t about dollar meals; in fact, in this same study “value” ranked fifth or sixth among the many reasons consumers snack.

Let’s face it – the traditional hotel restaurant approach is anti-snack. The lunch buffet is a primary anti-snacker weapon, followed closely by a menu which often promotes the same salad-entrée meals from our dinner menu, for a reduced price. Then, to reinforce the strategy, should any snackers try to get past our standard snacking barriers, we close the restaurant during prime snack time – the afternoon. At dinner, we close as early as possible, in case late-night snackers have infiltrated our guest rooms.

Does this mean that our restaurants, menus and hours of operation should become snack oriented? Not necessarily. Here are some other approaches:

  1. Your bar should be snackers central. Test this 4-pronged strategy: a) open the bar during lunch and dinner and during snacking hours (between lunch and dinner, after dinner). b) Ensure that decent snack options abound c) implement systems and procedures that make it easy for the bar team to sell food, and d) provide easy-to-spot visual cues for the customer: posters and table-top menus, for example. E-marketing if you cater to local customers.
  2. Re-evaluate your gift shop. Who runs it? Can you take it back? Consider, if its yours, or could be – what if it were an F&B  operation specializing in snacks (you can still sell gifts and other retail)?
  3. No gift shop? Test the waters with a strategically placed kiosk.
  4. Is your room service menu “snack-friendly”? Perhaps you’d rather not risk cannibalizing entrees, losing that $32 steak sale. Or maybe a prominent, dedicated “snacks” page (not buried in the “All Day Dining” section) would promote more sales? Print a new page and test it.

Don’t forget to measure any test carefully. Now, go enjoy a snack.

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