Using F&B to Establish a Unique Character for Your Hotel

By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | November 25, 2018

A hotel's restaurants and bars offer one of the best opportunities for the hotel to express its unique character. Food and beverage (F&B) is nothing less than hospitality in motion, on display and interactive in a way that everyone can see. It only makes sense to use F&B to help differentiate hotel properties, now more than ever.

F&B is unique in that guests spend their time in these spaces mostly sitting still and enjoying themselves. Most, if not all, hotel guests will visit the on-site restaurants and bars during their stay, and what's more, they will stay for an hour or more, sometimes multiple times a day. The quality of the food, service and environment plays an enormous role in the level of satisfaction and creates lasting memories, good or bad.

Furthermore, with food tourism on the rise, a hotel's F&B venues can become destinations in themselves. Nationally and internationally recognized chefs, renowned local foods, beers and wines, or even the spaces themselves-for example, a hip, exclusive rooftop bar-can be reason enough for guests to make a trip.

Many hoteliers are reporting upwards of 40% of revenue from F&B. With proper planning, F&B can increase bottom-line returns as well. Together with the draw power and potential improved guest satisfaction, it is clear now is the time to invest in food and drink offerings.

A well-conceived, attractive F&B program can also increase both bookings and profitability of group sales. Event coordinators list F&B as one of the top three most important factors in selecting a venue. Attendees are drawn to events and group activities that are based on local foods and chef-driven experiences.

Of course, simply operating a restaurant or bar is not enough. Neighborhood competition in secondary and even tertiary markets has intensified, and hoteliers need to respond like restaurateurs. More and more travelers check with online review sites before choosing a place, and with so many choices available, a hotel restaurant or bar needs to shine. It needs to compete with the best in the local market and offer a superlative experience, in food quality, service, setting-preferably all three.

A stunning collection of early 20th-century paintings adorns the Atlas restaurant at St. Regis Atlanta
A separate entrance to the restaurant is key to creating a new experience for guests. Kimpton Tryon Park, Charlotte, NC.
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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.