Important Things to Recognize for Establishing F&B Venues in Today's Economy

By Jim Holthouser Senior Vice President Brand Management, Embassy Suites Hotels | November 27, 2011

Co-authored by Beth Scott, VP Restaurant Concepts, Hilton Worldwide

Developing a concept for a new restaurant involves a certain amount of risk. Get it wrong, and you can end up with a lot of expensive square footage that will wreak havoc on a hotel's overall profit level. Get it right, and you'll trigger significant rewards, including a boost in profits and increased visibility for your property; in addition, your customers will enjoy an enhanced guest experience.

Market Intelligence a Must

Planning must be market-driven. Wise hotel developers will always invest in an in-depth study of the local market to determine which restaurants are attracting a steady clientele, and to identify the USPs of popular venues that contribute to a sustainable level of success. A few evenings of dining around locally will provide a bird's-eye view of the restaurant scene, and also a snapshot of the clientele at each venue.

Of course, awareness of new and emerging trends in the food and beverage arena is also key to planning. Even if the plan is for a traditional restaurant serving classic French or mainstream international cuisine, a developer should be sure to explore the food and beverage landscape in depth in order to create a design, presentation and menus in sync with guests' preferences today, and an ambiance that will encourage repeat visits. Right now, small plates are a great way to offer portion and price flexibility, and health and wellness-driven beverages continue to grow in appeal. Classic American dishes will always have a place on U.S. menus, and this season we're seeing these classic dishes prepared with innovative modern twists that add to both flavor and presentation. A smart approach can help advance a restaurant to rank among diners' personal favorites and to stay top of mind whenever dinner plans are under discussion.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.