Partner with Local Purveyors to Bring Guests a Local Experience

By Thomas McKeown Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | August 21, 2016

Faced with new, demanding guests, hotel restaurants are relying on local sourcing, quality ingredients and authentic experiences to return to the glory days of hotel dining. Not all that long ago, the best dining you could find in any city in America was in a hotel.

In cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, even in my city of Atlanta, grand hotels offered acclaimed restaurants known for their fine cuisine and memorable experiences. People got dressed up to enjoy steak and lobster, oysters and fine wine. For their discriminating guests, chefs served surprises like shrimp cocktail, baked Alaska and smart cocktails.

Hotels and their restaurants became recognized and beloved brands. Even their special recipes were famous – think Waldorf Salad. In those glory days of hotel dining, a large hotel like mine would have half a dozen restaurants of all types and price points, just to keep up with demand.

Unfortunately, things changed, and not for the better. And our industry is at fault.

In more recent decades, hotel dining earned a reputation – like airline food – for offering bland ( or worse ) meals at exorbitant prices. High quality, chef-driven restaurants increasingly became a thing of the past.

Not surprisingly, our customers reacted and new competitors emerged. The modern guest gravitated to freestanding boutique restaurants, which excelled at providing expert service and surprising, delightful cuisine, successfully mimicking the hotel experience of years past.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.