New Clarion eMenu Program Changing the Catering Sales Game
New brand focus aimed at capturing more group business
By Dan Sweiger Senior Director, Brand Strategy, Choice Hotels International, Inc. | November 27, 2011
As a result of extensive research and consultation with Clarion franchisees, Choice Hotels International has embarked upon a 3-year strategy to reposition Clarion as a "focused service" hotel for the midscale "gatherings" market. What is focused service? A more targeted, streamlined and efficient way to meet the on-site food and beverage needs of today's corporate and group hotel guests. It means eschewing the old fashioned definition of "restaurant" as a traditional sit-down, three-meal facility, and focusing on more flexible ways to meet guest needs for convenient meals. This could include basic menu offerings provided in a multi-use space.
It means doing less, and making it mean more.
Clarion is a mid-scale, full-service brand franchised by Choice Hotels International. Clarion, with nearly 200 hotels open in the United States, has on average the largest room counts of any brand in the Choice system, with hotels averaging nearly 150 rooms. As larger assets, these hotels typically have meeting space. And in this economic environment, group business is very valuable.
The Clarion team is on a mission to establish itself as the hotel that "helps people come together." Its focus is to become the leader in the underserved midscale gatherings market – which represents 70 to 90 million room nights annually. These gatherings include a wide range of occasions where people want to get together for a shared experience, from corporate meetings to weddings, reunions and weekend getaways.
The brand team determined that a focused service approach better suits the needs of this large market. In concept testing, a more streamlined offering of basic am and pm meals, and lobby lounge and carry-out in lieu of room service generated significantly higher consumer interest.
"In this economy, group business is very valuable and we're committed to helping our owners and operators drive property-level revenue," said Amy Crouch, Clarion director of brand strategy. "The corporate and group markets are ones that we really feel we can capitalize on - and what we've developed will get the phones ringing at Clarion hotels."
The three year plan to transition the brand to a focused service F&B platform includes three phases: catering & lounge, full hot breakfast, and evening meals and carry-out service. The team focused its efforts first on catering and lounge because these are more profitable operations and are essential to attracting group/meetings business. The brand established service-level standards that include china-glass-stainless service and a full breadth of catering offerings.