A Tale of Two Cultures: How a different mindset will lift food & beverage

By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | August 19, 2012

Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems

** This is the first article in a series on improving revenue and profits from F&B

Hotel Food and Beverage is unquestionably a sales-based business. But can it really claim to have a sales-based culture?

In the summer of 1998 the Gillette Company was preparing to hit the button on the most expensive new product launch in FMCG history to that time. It was a product shrouded in secrecy. Through the years of its conception, design and production, what was to be the revolutionary Mach 3 razor went by the code name ER-226. It’s said that even Warren Buffett, a major Gillette shareholder, was kept in the dark.

We were consulting to the company’s sales divisions at the time and were given the task of translating consumer benefits – the product characteristics that had driven the four year design – into retailer benefits. These would provide the sales ammunition the account and category managers needed for their presentations to retailers on launch. There were clearly established strategies for Mach 3, and other supporting products in the Men’s Grooming category, aimed at ensuring immediate market penetration and brand take-off. This was orchestrated to happen in multiple ways via impulse sales, add-on sales, trade-up sales, and solution selling. Each had their own sales messages for consumers – and for retailers. Despite plenty of skepticism in the press and the market generally about the price and product complexity of Mach 3, the launch exceeded even Gillette’s optimistic expectations. Inside six months it was market leader in both North America and Europe.

The meticulous approach taken by Gillette on Mach 3 is typical of major fast moving consumer goods companies in most regions of the world. These are sales-based organizations with a strong sales culture. They recognize the need to adopt a scientific approach to the sales process. And while such sales classifications as impulse, and add-on, and trade-up, and even solution selling, have become somewhat passe in FMCG these days, that’s because they are truisms that are universally accepted, not because they have ceased to matter.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.