Take the time to go beyond customer expectations. Hotels CAN offer much more than great room service.
On the list of reasons to stay at your hotel, your restaurant is likely ranked pretty low. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hotels are expected to have restaurants even if most guests think they only need them for breakfast and room service. The rooms division of a hotel will always be the leader in profitability but other revenue streams can make the difference between scraping by and looking to expand. Taking the time to make your hotel’s restaurant stand out can mean not only keeping more guest dollars in house, but representing your local community.
One Building, Two Businesses
Guests rarely suffer from a lack of dining options near most hotel hubs. Many travelers want to taste the unique and local cuisines your city has to offer. It’s up to you to fight the notion that your hotel restaurant is overpriced and generic. Breakfast may be the most popular choice for hotel guests, but your restaurant should be there to lure them back for lunch and dinner. For room service, don’t be afraid to run specials that cater to your guests’ needs. If you’ve got a convention in town, offer up pizzas or other competitive deals that will seem attractive to people having room parties or all night events.
An in-house restaurant should highlight the flavor of your location. Your restaurant can be seen as a gateway for your clients to explore the city. Take the opportunity to partner with local businesses to provide locally sourced ingredients, or even breweries to provide craft brews. These partnerships encourage clients to spend more money with you but also turn your staff into local experts and guides to your area. If your staff sends guests to local businesses, those businesses will recommend your hotel when they have people coming in from out of town.
Take the time to think like a restaurant owner. Restaurants have concepts, and yours should be no different. Serving your guests is the top priority but what about other nearby businesses? If you have a strong concept, you’ll start bringing in customers outside of people staying at your hotel. Concept is often misunderstood as something only haute cuisine does. Is your restaurant a sit-down place? A fast casual place? Does it specialize in specific dishes? Consider the strengths of offering a wide versus a deep menu. A wide menu will lure in more customers but a deep menu will get customers to spend more on your best dishes.
A Business Plan Within A Business Plan
A profitable in-house restaurant often feels like running a second business connected to your first. Getting your restaurant started as a revenue stream usually begins at the reception desk. Make sure your staff mentions the restaurant during check-in procedures. They should be knowledgeable about the type of food your restaurant provides and, while they don’t necessarily have to have the menu memorized, should be aware of the most popular dishes or have one to recommend as their favorite. The restaurant should be talked up as a feature of your hotel like any spa services or your swimming pool.
Guests expect to eat at the restaurant during breakfast, but including a one-time promotion as part of their welcome package for a different meal is a great way to get them to sample your kitchen outside of a cup of coffee in the morning. Coupons can be simple percentages or dollar amounts off the bill – or add a bit of gamification buy allowing the customer to select an envelope and open it to reveal the discount. The coupon can also serve as a driver to other services within the hotel, such as signing up for a rewards program or as a way to offer free wi-fi to guests in their hotel room as thanks for trying out your restaurant.
Like any business, advertising and marketing is the main method of increasing awareness of your restaurant. Proper signage within the building is a good start as well as up to date menus and special information located in every room. If your hotel is near a convention center or other big public space, consider a food truck as a way to get the word out about the restaurant. Social media is also a great way to get the restaurant’s name out there.
Your in-house restaurant may not be a priority but it can bring in extra money if given proper consideration. Take the time to go beyond customer expectations. Turn your restaurant into the first step on a path to local businesses. Think about how a restaurant owner would do things. Make sure your staff is trained to talk about your restaurant like it’s an asset, not a utility. Encourage sampling through promotion. Get the word out through advertising and marketing. Soon enough, your restaurant will become an important part of your hotel’s identity.
Featured image “Protea Knysna Quays” courtesy of Flickr user John Hickey-Fry licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Flambe” courtesy of Flickr user Roman Boed licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Restaurant” courtesy of Flickr user Iqbal Osman licensed under CC by 2.0.