I was criticized for writing a novel so I beg your forgiveness as I strive to be more brief but meaningful. This is hard because quite frankly, having a successful, popular, and long term restaurant operation is terribly difficult. Why is that?
Let’s start with the premise that everyone has a kitchen at home, so on the surface, we are all familiar with the equipment and somewhat the process of how a kitchen operates and some basic cooking skills. Who is ever as critical of the food they prepare as they are of the food others prepare for them? By default, we become restaurant critics. Now we are seasoned travelers and live active lifestyles which lead us to eat frequently outside the home, resulting in lots of experiences, most average, some bad and some memorable.
So now we have a hotel with a restaurant. We must believe that it is necessary to sell rooms or catering because we are exhausted with the grind of daily restaurant operations and their fleeting bottom lines. “For all the work and risk, it just doesn’t seem worth it” and we now begin down the path of creating a food program that focuses more on cost containment than building a brand and volume. After all, does the customer really expect that much in a hotel restaurant?
This is your moment of opportunity. You have two options – you can maintain the same “it just doesn’t seem worth it” mentality as many of your competitors or create a very sensory, memorable experience at your property where quality and service come first. Is there that much difference in one guest room to the next? The answer is no. People remember a good meal and sincere hospitality much longer than they recall the inside of the four walls of their hotel room. This may be the amount of time between their visits to your location. Quality food and drink and hospitable service for all meal periods can become a significant point of difference and differentiate you from your competitors.
Look around the country and you will find iconic hotels, resorts and inns that have very successful food and beverage programs that are not only desired by their guests but also the local community. In some markets, the difference between these hotel properties becomes the food and beverage reputation. With a notable hotel restaurant, you will soon have other hotel vans dropping off their guests at your place! What a testimony to success. If I have a great meal here for dinner tonight, just imagine how great our annual sales meeting or my sister’s wedding will be.
“Oh, and the next time I come to town I am staying here!” These are the words you want to hear. Next week I will share some techniques to build a successful brand that grabs your lodging customer and excites your local neighbors.