Does Your F&B Operation Amplify or Detract From Your Brand?
By Laurence Bernstein Managing Partner, Protean Strategies | August 14, 2016
At the end of the day there are three main areas in which the hotel has an opportunity to trigger meaningful and memorable brand experience; service (especially the arrival/departure experience), physicality (especially the guest room experience) or tactile (especially the food and beverage experience). Yet many hotels pay little or no attention to the F&B operation as a brand amplifier. In fact, increasingly hotels are giving up on F&B and outsourcing the foodservice operation in one way or another. This article discusses how to develop experiential operationalization programs for F&B that leverage and amplify the brand at the same time.
Brand, Brand, Brand: Doesn't Anybody Break the Eggs, Anymore?
It seems the only thing anybody talks about these day is "brand." And not just the marketers, but everybody: housekeeping directors talk about the brand; rooms division directors talk about the service being on-brand; maintenance directors talk about keeping the facility running smoothly to reinforce the brand. Of course, social media and digital marketing directors never shut-up about the brand. Managers talk about the brand; regional managers talk about nothing else; owners obsess about brand. Brands only ever think of brands.
Being on Trend is Brand Destroying
The only people who don't seem to obsess about "brand" are the F&B leaders who cheerfully believe that whatever they offer the customers, if it's good, or great, or healthy, or whatever, will work. It's not often that the chef contemplates whether the items on the menu are on-brand. There is always the driving need to be "on trend", which is obviously a good thing, and which results in hotel restaurants focusing on local foods, or health or raw or salads or small dishes. But being on trend is not being on brand – in fact, being on trend is brand destroying because, in it's simplest form, it's what everybody else is doing ("trend" – get it?) and therefore not differentiating.
The reason for F&B's lack of brand focus is based on the perceptions that the hotel brand is for hotel guests, and probably not of much interest to the local community, and the empirically proven fact that hotel restaurants cannot survive on hotel guests alone. Therefore, it is incumbent on the restaurant managers to do everything possible to attract local customers, which precludes focusing on the hotel brand; it is not a stretch to say that the brand image of most hotels is not an attractive alternative to locals seeking a dining experience.