There is a growing need for hotels to become a centre for the community and at the same time bring in more event business and increase room sales. By providing guests and non-residents more options, such as good quality F&B operations run by experts, they can engage their audience and bring in more business.
In the past there has been a popular and successful trend of hotels outsourcing their F&B to celebrity chefs, restaurateurs and contract caterers. However, the trend has waned because hotels want to either take back their ownership and management or try newer models. It is a competitive market and there is now a demand for attracting an audience in a different way.
It is already changing and there are success stories – Brasserie Blanc, Soho House and D&D to a name a few. Whether via partnerships, outsourcing or internal, there needs to be evolving F&B strategies as it has grown in day-to-day importance and it is natural to look towards restaurant specialists as they can bring a different dimension.
Some argue against outsourcing as a hotel will be trusting its brand in the hands of another and so a partnership of any kind must have a mutual bond to ensure success. Others have viewed F&B services in a hotel as an industry custom rather than a strong contributor to the bottom line.
“In the past there has been a popular trend of hotels outsourcing their F&B to celebrity chefs, restaurateurs and contract caterers”
There is an argument that hoteliers outsource their restaurant because they lack food and beverage skills and the hope is they can collect the rent from the restaurant operator. However, issues can pop up with the lack of control over service levels and standards. Whatever the past reasons, it is always a decision that needs long consideration, especially because it is the outsourcing of an element of the brand.
At the same time technology is becoming increasingly important and the needs and desires of guests are changing how they approach food and drinks within a hotel. The trend for eating in-room is growing and guests now want to be able to text or digitally send an order via a smartphone or similar device.
People are working and eating at the same time and tight travelling schedules require a quick turnaround time. It is challenging and hotels have to be prepared to act and have the right systems in place.
Food tastes and styles are also rapidly evolving in line with lifestyle and work changes. Healthier options are being chosen alongside classic old favourites. This refreshing momentum is intertwined with food becoming central to a hotel’s appeal alongside service and environment.
In the past the relationship between a hotel and their F&B operator has become frustrated because of a lack of effective communication. The quality of work may become affected and in the worst cases the understanding and focus on the customer is lost. Value may also be lost in the process when selecting the right outsourcing partner because of the competition during the pitching. It may also be argued that hotels may abuse this process by using it as a way of gathering ideas without intending to commission work. The question sometimes raised is, are hotels guilty of letting briefs become progressively less focused throughout an outsourced relationship?
So a hotel’s F&B has historically been viewed as a poorly managed afterthought for some hotels because they believe the operation won’t generate any revenue, are more focussed on selling rooms or are under the assumption that guests do not eat in hotels. However the belief now is that F&B is becoming increasingly important to both event and room sales as customer expectations today are continuously rising. Outsourcing, researching the local market and surroundings, adjusting the offering for the guests and creating the right space and ambience can all help improve the food and beverage – all the way from the customer experience to the bottom line.