Storytelling Through F&B: How to Marvel your Guests?

EHL Students - Bachelor | 22 Aug, 2016

We have often been told that, compared to the Rooms Division, F&B venues in a hotel are an insignificant contribution to the total revenue.

According to the F&B Vice President of Kimpton Hotels: restaurants and bars are commonly treated as mediocre additions to a larger enterprise. Alternately, when these are built as unique bodies, they can become a very profitable stream. The reason: immersive cultural experiences appeal to savvy consumers, and these are hungrier than ever.

During the last decade, there has been an obsession with food and cooking, even from the “non-industry” community. Eating and drinking reveals fashions and lifestyles. Today, when we say trendy, we often mean drinking a fresh fruit smoothie, preparing a quinoa-kale salad or instagramming a wagyu beef burger paired with a craft beer.

Knowing that food is in vogue and many of the hotel competitors underestimate it, why not prepare a full day menu that will transform your F&B into a differentiating factor?

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Gone are the days in which we chowed down on a croissant and a juice before embarking into an adventure. Travelers know they need to fuel up because breakfast is the most essential meal throughout the day. Thereupon, a raging popularity has grown around this morning food-ritual. People are willing to sacrifice long-hour-waits in the most acclaimed joints rather than grabbing a traditional hotel buffet. But some places are starting to change the game.

Forget about the scrambled eggs and crispy bacon to dive into a farm-to-table concept in Otahuna Lodge in New Zealand, be challenge with authentic Chinese delicacies in the Upper House Hong Kong, or be a barista in the Virgin Hotel Chicago choosing a signature blend to do your own artisanal pour-over coffee. Hoteliers can exploit this trend to marvel their guests with unique choices, to propose a sophisticated ambience for business meetings and even to offer a refugee for local foodies craving to find a pristinely made espresso.

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It is commonly assumed that hotels are late adopters of F&B trends. For many years, several hotels options were limited to never-ending multi-course meals in stuffy settings. Holding preconceived notions as being true, it seems irrelevant to go inside a hotel for an overpriced and boring lunch. However, some places have defied the odds and built their success upon superb, yet humble, food concept creations.

While time is precious during lunch, we still lust for fresh flavors and we appreciate smartly designed ambiences. Luckily we can rush through a freshly-baked grab & go affair at the CitizenM canteen. Occasionally, we need to impress a potential client with a quickly delightful ‘CHF 45/ 45 min’ business lunch in Kempinski Geneva Italian terrace. Some other times, we can unwind for laid-back social food and drinks at the YOTEL rooftop in New York. Regardless of the timing and conditions, we definitely want an uncomplicated experience that keeps us immersed in the local culture. Four Seasons' F&B Vice President pointed out that they are 100% targeting the locals. Inevitably, a layout that gets them will guarantee your hotel with more tourists, and also a local clientele as a buffer for the off-season.

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Great food is strongly associated with dining at fancy Michelin-starred restaurants. However, great food does not have to be expensive. Without a doubt, having a “signature” gastronomic restaurant or a world-class cocktail bar will earn you a reputation, especially in the top culinary destinations. The NoMad in New YorkEpicure at Bristol in Paris, and the Artesian bar at the Langham London: all emerging as glorious institutions. Partnering with a celebrity chef or a skilled mixologist has proved to be a key to success. However, hoteliers must be aware that most guests are not willing to empty their pockets every night. There also has to be more inclusive venues designed by restauranteurs who understand the latest trends and needs. Both the Four Season and Fairmont F&B directors have witnessed how a switch from a fine dining concept to more informal choices (lobby bars, lounges and casual restaurants) resulted in more customers and higher profits.

It is around food and drinks that we build some of our best memories, so marvel your customers and give them a story to tell.

Author: Ana Sofía Acuña - EHL Bachelor Student
Photo credit: mentioned hotels and restaurants

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