Hotel Restaurants Should Step Up Their Game to Meet the Needs of Today's Foodie Culture

By Eduardo Fernandez General Manager, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach | February 24, 2019

With "foodie culture" being a relatively non-existent term just a decade ago, things were quite simple. Business travelers and tourists alike were content with concierge-recommended establishments, and easily walkable destinations offering straightforward fare. In many cases, hotel guests were satisfied with the traditional, on-site three-meal-a-day option.

But like many of society's most recent changes, a significant cultural shift can be directly linked to social media. Travelers are now interacting with their food and drinks in ways never seen before. Where a traveler dines, what they eat, and what that food looks like has become part of what defines them. Food is now a status symbol, shared with the masses at the click of a button. Hotel food and beverage is a new ballgame, as a traveler's search for a perfect meal is one of the focal points of their entire trip.

Travelers today are dining at carefully chosen restaurants, having highly vetted the location via Instagram, Yelp reviews and additional trusted apps. Gone are the days where travelers stop at an inconspicuous cafe across the street from their main activity. Rather, they're spending time curating an itinerary filled with must-try restaurants, made famous via social media with over-the-top desserts, magnificent cocktails and menus boasting "hyper-local" and "sustainable" ingredients. Seemingly overnight, restaurants have become the main attraction and event.

As an international hotel brand dedicated to the beauty – or art – of food, Sonesta has evolved over time to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of travelers and has even remained a step ahead of the trends. Working carefully to provide locally inspired, artistically crafted and unique experiences, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach is no different. As part of a brand-wide initiative, Sonesta offers signature dining concepts including Liquid Art and Food is Art, presenting guests with beautifully crafted meals and stunningly delicious beverages. This innovative thinking has helped drive social engagement and brand loyalty, delivering a unique concept that has been successful for several years.

With a pulse on the social trends, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach is seizing the moment and completely redefining the food and beverage offerings with the introduction of Steelpan, a Caribbean-American fusion kitchen and bar that caters to both guests and locals alike. Built to act as both a stand-alone restaurant for city residents and a prime choice for guests, Steelpan will be a restaurant that goes above and beyond the standard dining experience, creating an artistically infused ambiance that extends to both the cuisine and beverages, culminating in a destination restaurant where food, drink, service and ambiance are exulted.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.