Food Trends at Hotels

by: Elise Krentzel

Back in the 90’s, The Paramount in NYC recommended its guests buy breakfast at an upmarket style take-away adjacent to the property. People have always been on the go, especially in metropolis’ yet now the speed at which customers want service seems to 100x faster than before. Thanks to smart phone apps and the millennial generation who grew up with the internet, most hotels are now transforming their food service offerings.

Globally, many hotels are playing catch up to one of the biggest industry disrupters: food delivery brought quickly to consumers. From uberEats, Amazon Prime, DoorDash, BiteSquad, GrubHub, Yelp owned Eat24, Lish, Munchery and many others – local and national. Hotel restaurant dining and food service will never look the same. Room service carts are on their way out.

Customers now use their phones to locate, order, pay, get loyalty points, communicate within a group, review and receive delivery from thousands of options. These customers demand the same service while staying at a hotel.

Baum & Whiteman, International Food & Restaurant Consultants, predicts “complete “ecosystems” are emerging that will give consumers one-stop stay-at-home opportunities for food shopping.” Michael Whiteman, President of the firm adds, “A boutique hotels’ location might be predicated on its F&B potential, and so the two form a potent marketing combination. A large hotel hopes that profits from banquet spaces offset the losses in their restaurants. Boutique hotels generally don’t posses large banquet rooms so their restaurants have to be profitable.”
He adds, “I’d structure a millennial menu around farming, body-enhancing ingredients, trendy and premium drink ingredients, and this year’s gastro-buzzwords; while a boomer menu would talk about fiber, whole grains, heart and gut health, and premium wines.”

Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global, said “there will be a lot of roadkill” among older brands, as Millennials are driven less by brand loyalty and more by the search for novelty. He adds, “instead of thinking about what services are in the building, maybe they should shift their thinking to what the neighborhood has to offer.”
That supports the trend of eating on the go, outside the hotel property entirely or at adjacent restaurants run perhaps by non-hotel operators. As community grows more horizontal, hotel guests will become hotel drivers, (I call it “reverse marketing”) through the demand economy where information is free although maybe not as consolidated as guests would like.
Travel Market Report sums up the F&B trends of 2016 based on an amalgam of panelists who spoke at a recent Hotel Experience F&B Trends session.

– Old Rule 1: Hotels are restaurant-centric
– New Rule 1: Hotels are bar-centric, places where consumers can network and enjoy creative cocktails and craft beers
– Old Rule 2: The restaurant and bar are in separate rooms
– New Rule 2: There are no boundaries as to where any public space ends. The lobby might flow into a bar or a restaurant
– Old Rule 3: Hotels are late adopters of F&B trends
– New Rule 3: Hotels are becoming early adopters, although they have to be careful because it’s harder to change the culture of a hotel brand than that of a restaurant
– Old Rule 4: Food is brought to the room or to a restaurant table
– New Rule 4: Guests are mobile, hitting the grab-and-go to get food for the room or for the plane ride
– Old Rule 5: Meals are about menus
– New Rule 5: It’s all about snacking, grazing, and sampling – social dining that caters to specific diets

This writer thinks Old Rule 3 is still very much in effect for the big chain brands. Most hotels play catch up to consumer trends in dining and drinking by a couple of years. So while New Rule 3 claims hotels are becoming early adopters I have yet to see that becoming the “norm”, even with boutique properties.

Some exceptions might include, The Off hotel which is a floating oasis on the Seine in Paris. Offering a swimming pool and well stocked buffet breakfast, it is a must-see destination and open to non-hotel guests. http://offparisseine.com . What makes it so unforgettable is that it is the first floating hotel ever in France, probably in Europe and the world. Because it’s open to non-guests and has a swag, visitors have been clambering to meet here. The hotel puts up an enclosed window structure in winter to keep people from freezing. Cocktails are a mainstay for after work gatherings and tapas are served till 1am. They will soon serve brunch on the weekend to increase traffic.

About the author

eliseElise Krentzel
CEO, ek Consulting LLC
As a business architect, Elise Krentzel lays the foundation by identifying what your brand is. On the 1st floor she spots opportunity others miss by developing a sound corporate strategic market-ing plan. The 2nd floor leads to implementing operational, GTM and product concepts with just enough of a rebel spirit to stay ahead of the curve. Lastly, the roof consists of engagement com-munications: experiential events, PR & promo. Elise sits on the Board of Art Alliance Austin. She is an avid traveler having lived in 5 countries and author of the UK Explorer Travel Guide series and European Bopp Guides to city travel.

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