Partner with Local Purveyors to Bring Guests a Local Experience

By Thomas McKeown Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | August 21, 2016

Faced with new, demanding guests, hotel restaurants are relying on local sourcing, quality ingredients and authentic experiences to return to the glory days of hotel dining. Not all that long ago, the best dining you could find in any city in America was in a hotel.

In cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, even in my city of Atlanta, grand hotels offered acclaimed restaurants known for their fine cuisine and memorable experiences. People got dressed up to enjoy steak and lobster, oysters and fine wine. For their discriminating guests, chefs served surprises like shrimp cocktail, baked Alaska and smart cocktails.

Hotels and their restaurants became recognized and beloved brands. Even their special recipes were famous – think Waldorf Salad. In those glory days of hotel dining, a large hotel like mine would have half a dozen restaurants of all types and price points, just to keep up with demand.

Unfortunately, things changed, and not for the better. And our industry is at fault.

In more recent decades, hotel dining earned a reputation – like airline food – for offering bland (or worse) meals at exorbitant prices. High quality, chef-driven restaurants increasingly became a thing of the past.

Not surprisingly, our customers reacted and new competitors emerged. The modern guest gravitated to freestanding boutique restaurants, which excelled at providing expert service and surprising, delightful cuisine, successfully mimicking the hotel experience of years past.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.