Hotel Consumers Value the Convenience of Limited-Service Options

By Jodie Tristano Business Development Manager, Technomic, Inc | November 20, 2011

While menu trends at hotel-based restaurants lean toward fine New American cuisine, gastropub specialties and tapas-style offerings in the bar and lobby, when it comes to quick meals and snacks, customers turn to limited-service concepts.

They do so for the same reasons customers visit quick-service restaurants like McDonald's and Subway and fast-casual concepts such as Chipotle and Panera Bread: They know they can get a meal or snack without waiting or needing to pay a tip; the food is portable and easy to eat elsewhere; they are comfortable for families; meals are easily customizable yet inexpensive; and the options are increasing healthful.

Technomic's extensive study of hotel customers, summarized in The Hotel Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report, included an analysis of their patronage of onsite limited-service options.

More than a third of consumers say they dine at a limited-service restaurant, or LSR, located in a hotel at least once per hotel stay. An equal percentage reports that they visit one occasionally. While consumers visit hotel-based full-service restaurants more often when staying overnight, this is likely due to the higher prevalence of full-service options at hotels.

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At hotels, consumers visit limited-service restaurants most often for lunch. Nearly half of consumers (46%) report that they are likely to purchase lunch from an LSR located inside the hotel. Additionally, more than two in five consumers (42%) say they are likely to purchase breakfast from an onsite limited-service restaurant.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.