More than 70 percent of travelers say they never use hotel mini-bars according to a survey conducted jointly by GO Airport Express, and The GO Group, LLC, an international ground transportation service provider.
Just fewer than four percent said they always raid the mini-fridges, while 20 percent said they do so sometimes or occasionally.
Several of the more than 733 survey respondents had comments, noting they think the food and beverage offerings are too expensive, or they use the mini-fridges to store their snacks bought elsewhere.
Of those who did purchase from the hotel mini-bars, men were more likely to purchase alcoholic beverages, at 27 percent, compared with 14 percent of women. Women bought more bottled water (47 percent) compared with men (35 percent). Women also purchase healthier snacks such as nuts and granola bars, than men, at 14 percent and seven percent respectively.
“Today’s travelers are more savvy, health and budget conscious,” says John McCarthy, president of GO Airport Express. “Successful hotels are starting to respond by catering to the changing preferences of their guests.”
Conrad Hotels & Resorts announced the launch of Stay Inspired (www.stayinspired.com), a global, brand-wide initiative that marks a cultural shift and overhauls the way the brand trains its team members as storytellers of their destinations. At each one of its 24 global properties, Conrad now offers guests who seek out inspired experiences a more customized and curated collection of 1, 3, and 5 hour experiences available through Conrad Concierge mobile app and at StayInspired.com.
Spearheading the Stay Inspired initiative is Nilou Motamed, the luxury brand’s first ever Director of Inspiration, who is responsible for developing and implementing the Stay Inspired vision and what it means for travelers. Nilou joins Conrad having previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast’s digital food brand, Epicurious, and Features Director and Senior Correspondent for Travel + Leisure.
As Director of Inspiration, Nilou has traveled to Conrad properties worldwide to create the initial series of Stay Inspired experiences. Catering to the modern traveler’s desire to merge work, life, and pleasure, StayInspired.com now offers experiences in convenient 1, 3, and 5 hour increments, or what the brand is calling the Conrad 1/3/5. Each Conrad 1/3/5 recommendation reflects an inspired view into each destination covering food, shopping, art and design, culture, family, and adventure.
“Today’s luxury traveler wants to discover destinations where they can be truly inspired. So we are shifting how not only our concierges communicate and connect with our guests, but all of our team members,” said John T.A. Vanderslice, global head, Conrad Hotels & Resorts. “Through our partnership with Nilou, we have trained our team members and empowered them to make thoughtful recommendations within our destinations, stepping away from the standard transactional relationship between a concierge and a guest. We now have become more like storytellers.”
StayInspired.com, accessible via mobile device through the Conrad Concierge mobile app, offers a modern luxury traveler on any schedule the ability to browse activities in 1, 3, and 5 hour itineraries, or by interests. Using StayInspired.com, travelers can now save and share their Conrad 1/3/5 itineraries, access custom content in the form of photos, videos, and maps, or book a room and an experience through the hotel’s concierge. On property, concierges will be equipped with tablet devices to guide guests through the itineraries.
“Guests want to use whatever free time they have while traveling to discover something new. They want to find those hidden gems that are off the beaten path and that can’t be found in the pages of a guidebook,” said Nilou Motamed, Director of Inspiration, Conrad Hotels & Resorts. “This collection called the Conrad 1/3/5 curates content and experiences in a way that aligns with the way our guests live their lives.”
In past articles, PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) has labeled the period 2000 to 2010 as the “lost decade” for the U.S. lodging industry. During this volatile period, hotel revenues remained virtually flat through two major recessions and one extended period of prosperity. On the surface, it appears that hotel food and beverage (F&B) revenue followed a similar pattern.
To understand recent trends in hotel food and beverage departments, PKF-HR studied the financial performance of hotel restaurants, lounges, and catering departments for the period 2000 to 2010. The information came from a same-store sample of full-service hotel operating statements taken from PKF-HR’s Trends® in the Hotel Industry database. These hotels average 413 rooms in size, and offer multiple F&B outlets and extensive banquet facilities. Hotel data was estimated for 2010.
Total hotel food and beverage revenue decreased slightly from 2000 to 2010 within the study sample. Measured on a compound annual basis (CAGR), F&B revenue declined 0.6 percent. This is comparable to the 0.5 decline in total hotel revenue experienced by these same properties. However, when analyzed on a dollar-per-occupied room basis, hotel F&B revenue increased 1.6 percent on a compound annual basis during the decade. This is significantly greater than the 0.1 percent rise in total hotel revenue per occupied room. During the study period, the number of occupied rooms declined 0.5 percent CAGR.
The relative stability of F&B revenue per occupied room can be partially explained by the ability of hotels to attract local patrons to their restaurants, lounges, and catering facilities. This is especially evident during the recessionary years of 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2009 when the declines in food and beverage revenue were less than the decreases observed in rooms revenue.
Conversely, during the prosperous years of 2004 through 2007, total hotel revenues grew stronger than F&B revenues. During these years, stout increases in both occupancy and average room rates boosted total hotel revenue. This implies that the ability of hotel managers to raise room rates is greater than their ability to increase F&B prices.
Sources of F&B Revenue
Averaging 413 rooms, it is not surprising that banquet related revenue was the greatest source of F&B revenue for study sample in 2010. The combination of catering revenue, public room rental income, audio visual fees, and banquet service charges accounted for an estimated 55.5 percent of total F&B department revenue. Other sources of F&B revenue included restaurants (30.2%), lounges (5.6%), and room service (4.4%). It is interesting to note that the combined beverage sales within the hotel restaurants were twice as great as the liquor revenue generated at the bars within these properties. Whole bottle wine sales in the restaurants partially explain this disparity.
Due to changes in the Uniform System of Accounts in the Lodging Industry(USALI) it is not possible to equitably compare changes in F&B revenue by source over the 2000 to 2010 period. However, changes in revenue can be estimated for 2009 to 2010.
From 2009 to 2010, total F&B revenue increased 8.6 percent. This compares favorably to the 6.5 percent increase in total hotel revenue for the study sample during the same period. The greatest increases were observed in beverage revenue (9.4%), followed by food revenue (9.1%) and other F&B revenue (6.2%). Other F&B revenue consists of public room rental, audio/visual, and service charge income. Of note is the fact that the majority of growth in beverage revenue came from catering events as opposed to the hotel bars.
Expenses and Profits
Food and beverage profitability is dictated by management’s ability to control the prime costs of labor and costs of goods sold. From 2000 to 2010, the prime costs of F&B departments in our sample averaged 64.3 percent of total department revenue. Labor costs during this period averaged 43.4 percent, while the cost of goods sold averaged 20.9 percent. This cost of goods sold number includes expenses associated with the other F&B revenue sources. If you examine the combined costs of goods sold for just food and beverage sales, the average ratio rises to 29.1 percent.
Hotel departmental profit margins averaged 26.4 percent from 2000 to 2010. In accordance with the USALI, this ratio is calculated before undistributed expenses such as marketing, maintenance, and utilities. Once again, the depth of the recession becomes evident. The lowest level of F&B departmental profitability was experienced in 2009 (21.6%), while the greatest profit margin was observed in 2000 (32.6%).
Haves and Have Nots
Food and beverage operations within the lodging industry have become a story of haves, and have nots. The vast majority of new properties and brands entering the U.S. lodging industry offer either limited, or no F&B service at all. On the other end of the spectrum are full-service hotels with multiple restaurants, lounges, and banquet facilities. For these full-service hotels, the offering of F&B is not just a source of revenue, but an amenity used to position the property within the marketplace.
Losses within the F&B department are no longer tolerated by owners. F&B managers struggle to contain costs and grow revenues. The ability of management to attract local patrons, boost catering revenue, and increase beverage sales within their restaurants are examples of successful tactics that have generated profitable revenue.
by in Rock Your Restaurant
18 Oct 2016
I’ve always believed the three most important attributes of any successful restaurant are food, service and ambiance. You naturally expect in any restaurant that the food will be good and that the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxing, appropriate to the menu and concept. Many in the business would argue that each of these three attributes are equally important, yet to me as a former operator, Service really should stand above.
What happens when a restaurant shines in food, ambiance or both at the expense of your customer’s overall experience?
Here’s a case in point. One of my favorite local restaurants has a great vibe and the consistently very good food and drinks. The aesthetic details of the interior seating and bar, as well as the outdoor deck are really comfortable and appealing, and the place is usually busy. I live in a mountain resort town where everyone is active outdoors, and this restaurant is somewhat of a shrine to this lifestyle. I can relate as I once owned a successful ski resort restaurant with a skiing theme.
Although I like visiting this place, the service often is a bit disorganized and lackluster. Granted, I may be quite biased about great restaurant service, but the customers here don’t seem to mind, as the restaurant has a loyal following. But what if this clientele really knew and cared about what they were missing and it changed their dining habits? No restaurant can ever afford to take any customer for granted, as the free market usually ensures numerous other choices all vying for a share of the diner’s dollar.
Every detail counts when you’re running restaurants, but in my book treating every customer like the most important customer and making every experience better than the last is how true success is won in this most demanding and fickle business.
It takes consistent and regular training to overdeliver on service, as well as excel at the other two important attributes. Every staff person should understand how their unique role in elevating every guest’s experience makes or breaks that restaurant.
Now the heavy lifting begins. A daily preshift meeting becomes standard operating procedure. Staffers are trained in basic hospitality and salesmanship. Teamwork and communication are choreographed between all front-of-house positions and coordinated with the expeditor and back of house. The service team is conditioned to recognize, thank and welcome (or welcome back) each guest.
Empowerment is the key to this powerful competitive advantage. Train your staff to think like an owner or manager and then to notice every detail, in the sea of 1,000 restaurant details that your customer ultimately sees. Impressions are either positive or negative and are lasting.
Going back to my example: With a new commitment to service to complement the great food and atmosphere, how much busier and more profitable would this place be? Can you see the domino effect that service can have on the entire operation… from lower staff turnover, to customers who now become your best marketers, not to mention an ever-growing bank account and pride in the staff and management?
Approach your business from a fresh perspective each new day, play your best game and always keep open to new ideas and opportunities. Achieve this pinnacle in your operation and your restaurant can elevate the industry and raise the bar in your market area. Believe me, your guests will notice and reward your restaurant with their business.
The Future of Tipping
In a quickly changing labor market, the old models of employee compensation are feeling outdated. With rising rents, changes in health care costs, and legislators across the country raising the minimum wage, many employers are re-examining how to pay their staff equitable wages – especially cooks. One of the first strategies many owners are experimenting with is to eliminate tipping. We talked with 3 business owners to learn more about how the bar and restaurant industry is adjusting to the new realities of employee compensation.
Kurt Huffman, the owner of Chefstable, has opened a number of bars and restaurants. When he began working on Loyal Legion, a beer hall in Portland, Oregon, he decided to open it with a gratuity-free model. Instead of using tips to compensate his bartenders and servers, he raised the price of beer and offered his Front of House staff $18/hour.
Unfortunately, Huffman’s idea ran into some problems. “Essentially what we got was a lot of awesome people that had very little bartending or server experience” he said. “Most of those employees have stayed with us, and in the 6-8 months they’ve been with us, now they know the job. But at the beginning, they didn’t have bartender radar.”
His new recruits were eager, but needed training. Huffman ended up dedicating a lot more training and management resources to the bar than he had anticipated – costing him a “a fortune.” After a few months of testing, he returned to a tipping model. “I told my staff, ‘I think I put in place a system here that costs me more to pay you guys less.’” Servers at Loyal Legion now make $10/hour with tips, earning an average of $32/hour.
After going back to tipping, Huffman also raised his kitchen staff to $18/hour. This “was a big win” as line cooks are hard to attract and retain. “For the kitchen $18/hour is a wonderful wage. If we can get everyone to $18/hour, that’s the formula for keeping kitchen talent.”
Aaron Adams, owner and Head Chef at Farm Spirit, runs a totally different business model. His chef-counter style restaurant offers a prepaid ticket for a 12-course tasting meal with an 18% gratuity added automatically. Fed up with the wage disparity between the Front of House and the Back of House, Adams decided to do away with those roles completely.
At Farm Spirit, your cook is your sommelier and your chef is your waiter. You sit and watch as they prepare your meal, serve it to you with pride and if you have questions about it, you get to listen to Adams and his co-workers nerd out about food.
So far, Adams’ chef-counter model has been successful and he’s able to pay his employees a consistent living wage with ample room to grow. “I’m trying to eliminate the wage slavery we’re all a part of,” Adams said. “My goal is for everyone [I employ] to make 50k a year and have benefits and have two weeks off a year — and I’m already getting there.”
Scott Dolich, owner of The Bent Brick and Park Kitchen, is experimenting with what he calls the “one house” model. Much like the Farm Spirit model, Dolich plans to cross-trains cooks and servers, eliminating house roles and the wage disparity that traditionally come with them. In order to ensure consistency and quality, however, central roles like head chef and bar manger will not cross-train.
“After we go gratuity-free in July, all of my cooks/servers will get paid somewhere between $14 and $15/hour,” said Dolich. To make ends meet, Dolich will raise his menu prices by 18%. While customers will see an increase in price, it’s not more than they would’ve paid previously with tip.
Dolich isn’t a fan of tipping as a management tool. “Tipping is a very passive-aggressive way to leave feedback,” he said. “And tipping is not the only way to get good service; you have to have competent managers in place to maintain service quality.”
Dolich plans to roll out his tip-free model over the next few months, giving him time to make adjustments as he goes.
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Whether you run a small place with counter service or a restaurant with a full bar and front-of-house staff, the bottom line is that restaurants and bars are going to continue to experiment with compensation. It’s a challenge to equalize staff pay without raising prices so much that customers are scared away, while still providing a quality menu and stellar customer service.
Owners and managers – What kind of creative compensation strategies have you tried? How have you addressed raising wages, and the real wage disparities between the FOH and BOH? What has worked and what hasn’t? Leave us a comment and let us know about your experiences.
Restaurants in hotels have traditionally been a service reserved primarily just for guests, however, over the past few years we’ve seen a huge shift in both the design and operation of F&B components, as hoteliers realise that additional revenue can be driven from creating public areas which also entice external users.
There is also growing acknowledgement that the F&B element is most successful if run as a separate business entity to the main hotel.
Certainly the luxury hotel scene has been driving this trend through the partnering of high profile chefs. In many of these cases the restaurant’s décor, menu, branding and staffing are managed separately from the hotel itself. This does not mean to say that a disjointed relationship is established, rather quite the opposite.
One of the stand-out UK openings of recent times, the London Edition Hotel features the Berners Tavern Restaurant, a symbiotic partnership between the hotel and the restaurant’s chef Jason Atherton, to great success.
And of course the recent opening of Chiltern Fire House in Marylebone by hotelier André Balazs with renowned chef Nuno Mendes, is proving to be the ideal pairing, creating quite a stir in celebrity circles.
Looking back, one of the first hotels to influence this trend was the Mandarin Oriental, which in 2001, co-branded with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to create the standalone restaurant Dinner. This partnership enabled Heston to secure a restaurant in a prime London location and helped to boost Mandarin Oriental’s status as a must visit destination.
But it’s not just luxury hotels that are leading the way. Brands like Ace, 25 Hours and numerous boutique hoteliers have all tapped into the art of creating a dining experience for guests. Everything from point of entry to the presentation of menus and interior design are all carefully considered to create a much sought-after and authentic experience.
Customers today are more design savvy than ever before and as such are more aware of and interested in the heritage, culture and values of the restaurant they’re eating in. The Apero Bar & Restaurant (winner of the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards 2013) nestled in the vaulted cellars of The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington serves Mediterranean food by chef Chris Golding and has intentionally been designed with a very different aesthetic from the main hotel.
What about the larger international hotel chains? Well they’re also tapping into this trend. IHG’s Hotel Indigo in Kensington is an example of a client with whom were working to completely rethink their F&B space.
Currently under construction, the concept provides a “local deli” culminating in a multi-functional space, giving residents of the area a place to meet and shop for locally sourced artisan produce while allowing guests of the hotel to feel more connected to the neighbourhood. It also includes the key ingredient of a separate street entrance and will be operated by a third party.
The Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo is another example of how the role of hotel F&B design is changing. It has partnered with celebrated chef Cyrus Todiwala to run the Assado restaurant. Again the design and branding is very much set apart from the hotel.
However, in order to accommodate breakfast for a hotel of 297 rooms, the doors between the hotel and restaurant slide open, enabling the entire space to be used for breakfast. Outside of breakfast no-one would know that the Hampton breakfast offer lies concealed behind a sliding door.
There’s no denying it – operating a business in Australia’s foodservice industry is a tough gig. Costs are high, competition is fierce, and diners are fickle. Those brave enough to buy and run their own restaurant, café, hotel or QSR outlet need to not only be on top of industry trends – ensuring they provide patrons with exactly what they’re after – they also need to closely manage their costs.
This is especially true when we’re talking about breakfast – the first meal of the day and the one where diners are most critical of a lacklustre offering.
In 2013, John Hart, CEO of Restaurant & Catering Australia, said breakfast represented a significant opportunity to foodservice operators, making up 15 percent of the dining trade in Sydney alone.
“In the past five years there’s been a 50 percent increase in the number of restaurants open for breakfast,” Hart said. ”Restaurants are now opening for three meals, which is great for the industry and for consumers.
“[But] there is also stiff competition around breakfast prices,” he said.
With staffing, rent and food costs representing significant burdens to the bottomline these days, operators need to make savings where they can. One of the most effective ways to do this is to turn to suppliers like Tip Top Foodservice, which provides high quality, affordable baked goods for cafes, restaurants, hotels and QSR chains around Australia.
Products like the Speedibake rustic stonebaked sourdoughs, Turkish pide, ciabatta and Pane di Casa loaves, Tip Top thick cut raisin toast, English muffins and the iconic Golden pancakes provide chefs and restaurateurs with the flexibility to quickly prepare meals during the breakfast rush, while at the same time having faith that the finished product is worth a return trip.
Incorporating products like these into menus means foodservice professionals have more time to focus on other aspects of their business, whether it be creating new and innovative menu items, training and upskilling staff members, or having quality interactions with diners – the people that pay your bills at the end of the day!
It’s also important for foodservice businesses to create menus that offer a balance between the classic breakfast meals and the trends of the day. Products like pancakes and raisin toast are always strong sellers, and while bread is of course a staple for the morning trade, diners now expect cafés and restaurants to have an extensive range on offer, including white and brown breads, sourdough, Turkish breads and pide and ciabatta.
There’s no two ways about it: to stay ahead of the game and ensure the livelihood of their operation, foodservice professionals need to get the balance right. High quality ingredients that are reasonable in price yet attract significant returns are a must. When combined with innovation in the kitchen and professional front of house service, you’ll be onto a winner.
As a restaurant manager anything that makes your life easier has to be taken seriously, especially if it can all be stored in a device you probably carry around in your pocket anyway.
Apps for restaurants are now as diverse as cuisines and, of course, some are better than others. Here are a few worth considering.
Would you like to create a customised loyalty program for each and every one of your guests quickly and easily? The AppSuite app allows you to set up individual rewards based on each customer’s order history and purchasing habits. What a great way to turn occasional visitors into long term regulars?
Why make your customers wait until they’re seated at a table before thrusting a menu in front of them. With the eZee eMenu app you can publish your entire menu with high quality photo resolution and enticing descriptions so customers can devour it from anywhere.
How do you make your food and restaurant images sizzle? Simply use the inexpensive Photoshop alternative Skitch to play with photos and add text and shapes. It’s easy and adds value to every image.
Here’s a nice nuts and bolts one, an app that makes it easy to track your restaurant inventory, sales and revenue on a daily basis. The Inventory Tracker app also allows you to create reports and transfer them a spreadsheet format.
Do you like to keep right up to date with the latest flavour trends, as well as new ingredients and techniques from leading restaurateurs? Well, why pour through endless magazines and websites when you can have it all in your hip pocket on the Plate Magazine app.
Why stop at your food menu when you can spice up your drinks as well? With the Mixology app you have thousands of exotic drink recipes right there in your mobile phone. Best of all you can search the drinks database for drinks only containing the ingredients you have on hand.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get all those juicy compliments recorded for the world to see right when your guests are at their most enthused? Load the Suggestion Box app onto your restaurant iPad and they can sing your praises while you total up their bill. The app allows them to rate your overall performance, as well as leave detailed comments and suggestions.
The State’s liquor regulator will be boosted with extra compliance officers and the community given access to a new merit-based appeal of licensing decisions, to support stronger liquor laws in NSW, Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant announced on 10 October 2015.
The reforms are designed to better support the Government’s existing liquor policy by increasing compliance capacity, clearing bottlenecks, removing inefficiencies and resolving community confusion in the current system.
A new regulator, Liquor and Gaming NSW, will replace the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing and have its numbers boosted to allow for stronger compliance operations.
Liquor and Gaming NSW will assume a majority of routine liquor and gaming compliance, disciplinary and licensing functions.
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) will remain independent and be refocussed on high-risk licence applications such as new bottle shops or nightclubs. All casino licensing and gaming machine entitlement decisions will also remain with ILGA.
Grant said the reforms are needed to allow greater compliance and enforcement capacity after the NSW Government introduced a range of tough restrictions on licensed venues including lockout laws, 10pm bottle shop closures and stronger penalties for serving minors.
“Liquor laws in NSW have never been tougher, and we need a regulator that is equipped to effectively enforce these laws,” Grant said. “The new Liquor and Gaming NSW will be given a 20 per cent boost in compliance capacity and have a surge force of up to 100 inspectors when required.”
Community members affected by liquor licence decisions will have a far greater say with a new ability to lodge a low-cost appeal. Community members will be able to appeal Liquor and Gaming NSW decisions to ILGA and ILGA’s decisions to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This will be supported by a new community access team who will be dedicated to providing information and education to the general public.
“Previously a decision made by ILGA was final, unless you had the financial capacity for a Supreme Court appeal, making it almost impossible for the community’s voice to be properly heard,” Grant said.
“Also under the new arrangements, the ILGA board will be directed to meet more frequently allowing them to make decisions much quicker, improving certainty for the community.” Under the reforms, racing governance will be made a standalone function within the Justice Department and will continue to be overseen by the Minister for Racing. Stakeholders and staff have been briefed about the changes and they will be implemented over the next six months.
“That’s a nice drop,” is a saying you want relating to your wine choices, not your profits.
So choosing the right wines to complement your menu, decor and theme is a critical component in your planning. Here are a few tips to help get it right.
Become a matchmaker
It’s all very well choosing a fabulous selection of wines, but if they’re about as compatible with your menu as beer and ice cream you’re in trouble. Your menu should be the basis of your wine selections. For example light white wines go well with fish; reds tend to go well with duck, and so on. Do your research and match wines to dishes or you’ll end up with more vintage wine than you planned for.
Cater for everything from connoisseurs to unashamed cask drinkers
Make sure you include something for every taste. Yes, if you run an upmarket establishment you want a wine list to reflect that. But not everyone who dines in your restaurant will be a wine buff. So make sure your range includes a suitable cross section from cheap and cheerful to vintage. Keep it short and sharp. A long, complicated wine list might seem impressive, but it merely confuses most and creates an unwieldy inventory.
Keep your theme corked
Your wine list needs to reflect the theme and personality of your restaurant. Make it relevant and appropriate to avoid confusion and mixed messages as to exactly what atmosphere you’re trying to create. If you’re an Australiana burger bar, you probably don’t want to be showcasing French wines. Ask what wines are intrinsically linked to your core theme. Is there a regional slant you can buy into? Or a bias to a particular type of wine – red, white, champagne?
Be on the case with your initial order
Depending on the size of your restaurant you’re going to have to face up to an initial bulk wine order that can leave a bad taste if not managed right. If you’re cashed up this may not be an issue, but if you’re not, you need to be prepared for an initial hit to your profit and loss. And it’s not just the wine purchase you need to budget for; you may well need to outlay for shelving and cool storage – bar refrigerators and maybe even a walk-in cooler. And let’s not forget wine glasses.