Hotel guests today are eating in.
They’re dining in your rooms and in your restaurant. According to Statista, consumers spent over $38 billion dollars on hotel restaurants in 2016, and it’s predicted this number will continue to increase.
By applying a customer-centric mentality, industry leaders are designing meaningful hotel restaurants. Stay up-to-date with evolving expectations of your guests and you too can curate a memorable dining experience.
Tap into the locally-inspired future of hotel dining
Expert Andrew Taylor, restaurateur and owner of Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, predicts that in the near future, “hotels and their restaurants will become more seamless with the surrounding area.”
Taylor suggests there will soon be less of a distinction between a hotel restaurant and neighborhood hangout. As he puts it, “the hotel itself will become a community,” and there will likely be locals, and not just guests, dining at hotel restaurants.
As guests continue to look for hotels that are deeply-rooted in the local culture, landscape, and heritage, make sure your restaurant reflects this shift too.
Rethink traditional approaches to in-room dining
Young travelers define good service differently to older generations. The growth of food delivery apps like UberEATS, DoorDash, and Grubhub has allowed millennials to enjoy upscale meals in a more casual environment.
Modern-day guests are increasingly favoring a laidback approach to take-away, and the quality and source of ingredients has become more important than the lavish, and costly, presentation involved in traditional in-room dining.
Where possible, millennials also like the option of self-service. Unlike room service, the process of ordering online, and eating good food from anywhere, has given millennials the convenience and control they value in a dining experience.
Take-away tip: To-go style dining
Consider pairing your dine-in restaurant with an upscale food court or trendy to-go counter. While it might feel less luxurious, it’s an approachable way to meet the needs of time-conscious travelers who prefer self-service.
It’s also more affordable for guests. By eliminating overhead service costs, you’ll be able to better compete with meal prices found outside your property.
Create an exclusive experience
When it comes to hotel dining, guests are craving an experience they can’t find anywhere else.
To make your restaurant experience feel exclusive, showcase personal flair on your menu and give guests the opportunity to try house-made or artisanal dishes found only at your hotel restaurant.
Try leveraging the personal cooking style of your head chef to deliver an experience that pairs an expert hand with the unique qualities that guests value.
Take-away tip: “chef’s table”
Why not present your guests with an exclusive “chef’s table” experience? Offer a behind-the-scenes look as your chef prepares specialty dishes, and include the opportunity to dine, mingle, or meet your head chef.
Top off the experience with an autographed menu to take away, and make your guests feel as though they’re a part of something truly special.
Design an artisanal bar menu
It’s not just artisanal foods that guests value; the hotel industry has seen a growing demand for specialty cocktails, local liquors, and craft beers made in-house.
Guests are naturally gravitating towards the relaxed ambiance of a bar-style environment, and many even prefer it over traditional restaurant dining.
To cater to the rise in hotel bar culture, design a menu that taps into the local heritage of your property and its surroundings.
Industry example: Montpelier Plantation and Beach
Montpelier, situated in the West Indies, captures the spirit of locally-inspired bar experiences by encouraging guests to savor a flight of aged rums in what was once a 300-year-old sugar mill. The bar menu is derived from the rich history of rum in the Caribbean and pairs the tasting experience with home-made gourmet chocolates.
Guests are invited to soak up the heritage of the building while sipping on some of the finest rum in the region.
Connect guests to the source
With the farm-to-table movement, guests now want to know more about the quality and origin of their food.
Guests strive to feel connected to the food they eat and typically look for ingredients that are locally and ethically sourced.
To please the modern-day traveler, many restaurants have added an open-kitchen to their restaurant design and adopted consumer-friendly language on their menus, such as farm-to-table, farm-raised, grass-fed, certified organic, free-range and more.
Hotel chefs are also putting their own spin on local dishes, or using local ingredients to recreate classic meal choices.
Take-away tip: Tour the farm
To connect your guests more deeply with the food creation process, why not partner with a local farm where you source your ingredients to offer tours? Guests will value your transparency, and your restaurant menu will feel even more authentic. The ancillary revenue is just a bonus.
Engage guests in hands-on learning
Experiential travelers crave experiences, and constantly look for ways to create lasting memories on their trip.
According to research from Harris, 78% of millennial travelers would prefer to spend their money on experiences over material goods and other kinds of purchases.
Tap into the needs of your guests by offering hands-on opportunities to learn about or recreate the locally-sourced recipes and house-made beverages at your hotel restaurant.
Leverage the local culture and heritage surrounding your hotel to offer guests an experience they can’t find back home.
Drive loyalty through your restaurant
Your hotel restaurant brings together the guests on your property. Dining experiences are the heart of your hotel, and guests are naturally drawn to inviting ambience, speciality dishes, casual mingling, and locally-inspired drink creations.
Design a memorable hotel restaurant that taps into the values of your guests and expect to grow a loyal community of customers that continue to come back.