Four Keys to Installing a New Hotel Restaurant

By Jonathan Wilson VP Product Innovation & Brand Services, Hilton Worldwide | August 06, 2017

As hospitality professionals with nearly 5, 000 hotels worldwide, we are always looking for ways to be more efficient, effective and cutting edge. It’s what our guests expect from us, and it’s what gives each hotel a competitive advantage. For us at Hilton, that means making traveling easier and frankly, more enjoyable, with our smart design, authentic hospitality, and innovative restaurant concepts. We know food and drink is an important part of any visit, so we set about imagining how we could help owners deliver creative restaurants efficiently and effectively and drive loyalty and repeat guests.

Last year, the team launched Hilton’s Food & Beverage ( F&B ) Portfolio, an online platform that highlights restaurant concepts to current or potential owners. It started with the realization that we have exceptional concepts, but we could do more to ensure our owners and operators have the right concept for their hotels and the right tools to bring the ideas to market. We created the portfolio to house our concepts and be a comprehensive free tool for both the decision and implementation stage. We’re proud of how valuable it is for everyone involved, especially owners. It allows them to get the look and feel for a design narrative before committing, as well as access everything from training materials to owner guides, kitchen designs and menus, all in one place. There’s even a financial modeling tool that helps developers assess scaling options and ROI of various concepts over different time periods. With building the portfolio, there were some challenges and, more importantly, many lessons learned that will help any hospitality professional enhance their F&B offering, improve guest experience and drive revenue.

Here are our top four lessons:

1. Make it Digital, Make it Easy

We’ve been creating great restaurant concepts at Hilton for years, but the wealth of information lived on people’s computers and in slideshows, making it hard to update and stay current. Historically, each and every restaurant concept was bespoke, meaning that every time a hotel was built or redeveloped, we created concepts from scratch. The intent was good, but the strategy was not sustainable. Not only does starting from scratch take substantially more time, it also makes it harder for any hospitality brand, Hilton included, to define who they are and consistently and credibly make their mark.

We knew we needed to modernize our concept process. What is the best way to optimize and streamline the process? Make it digital. Now, our online tool brings the food and beverage prototype concepts that we expect to be successful across a number of properties to owners in an innovative way. By creating a portfolio that is free and accessible anywhere, anytime, there is much greater ease of access and communications between internal concept teams and the owners that they work with. This upgraded technology benefits in-person interactions, as teams can look through the digital library together to see the restaurant prototypes that have already been vetted and developed through extensive market research and trendspotting. Training materials, owner guides, kitchen designs, menus and even Team Member uniforms are all built into every concept.

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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.