Food and beverage is an increasingly important part of the puzzle for hotels in the US. In fact, a trends report from Avendra found the US lodging industry sees $200 billion dollars in annual revenue, with food and beverage making up 25% of those dollars. More importantly, those expenditures are increasing by 2% to 3% each year.
Today’s hotels and their foodservice counterparts are finding unique ways to keep up with ever-changing trends in an effort to keep their foodservice revenue growing. Curbing food waste, employing cutting-edge technology and creating one-of-a-kind experiences are among the recent trends helping them do just that.
Technology is the name of the game
Technology is transforming the way food and beverage purveyors do business, and hotel foodservice is increasingly benefitting from these advances both in the front and back of the house.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, for example, is using the power of messaging to get closer to its customers. Four Seasons Chat allows visitors to order room service or poolside drinks, and also ask for restaurant recommendations or reservations. Four Seasons recently expanded the service through a partnership with popular messaging service WhatsApp.
Similarly, Kallpod is being integrated at hotels across the country as a solution to facilitate better communication between guests and staff. The button-style communication device has been integrated at both Hilton and Marriott properties, and the company says it allows front of house staff to help with other hotel tasks instead of hovering around guests.
"As various technological advancements attempt to remove human interaction completely, we know that the future of technology is more about the customer being in control of the experience, rather than being the only party present,” said Kallpod CEO Gabriel Weisz in a press release. “With Kallpod, we're able to strengthen the interaction in hospitality settings while also providing efficiencies to improve our customers' bottom lines."
Turning on the experience
From high-end chefs to themed restaurants and over-the-top dining venues, hotels are creating unique food experiences for their customers in order to set themselves apart from the competition.
A bevy of hotels are adding new and exciting chefs to their restaurant repertoire, especially those considered quirky and interesting. “There’s been a trend away from the white tablecloth celebrity chef,” said Richard Moulds, director of Foodservice Consulting at JLL. “Less well-known but highly capable chefs who have worked below bigger names are now offering hotel operators the chance to revamp their dining – and perhaps at a comparatively lower cost.”
Taking dining venues to new heights is also trending, with hotels such as the Hotel Wailea in Maui encouraging guests to pick their own spot on the property to enjoy a chef-driven meal. Likewise, Minor Hotels’ Anantara chain began its “Dining by Design” program to give diners a say in their meals. In Oman, guests can enjoy a meal at a canyon’s edge, while those at the company’s property in Bangkok can dine on a restored rice barge.
Putting aside the waste
While curbing food waste is a pressing issue in many industries, it’s a particularly important one in the hotel foodservice realm. In fact, a report by executive coalition Champions 12.3 found that hotels that implemented a food waste reduction program saved $7 in operating costs for each $1 spent on the program. The report, which analyzed pre-consumer waste data from 42 hotels, also found that 95% of those hotel sites recouped their investment within two years.
Marriott International, which is committed to reducing food waste by 50% by 2025, is working to employ best practices, source reduction, technology, donation and landfill diversion as a means to combat food waste at its more than 6,500 properties worldwide.
“It was clear that the opportunity was there for us to really move the needle on this issue, and that culinary teams around the world could make an enormous impact,” said Marriott International’s Denise Naguib of the goal.
Hilton has also been involved in a pilot program to combat food waste, which saw several of its hotels donating thousands of pounds of leftover prepared food and diverting inedible food waste from the landfill. The company is rolling out these best practices to its 250 managed hotels throughout the Americas.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief for the Travel Professional or Restaurant Smartbrief to get news like this in your inbox, or check out all of SmartBrief’s food and travel newsletters as we offer more than 30 newsletters covering the food and travel industries from restaurants, food retail and food manufacturing to business travel, the airline and hotel industries and gaming.