Beyond Food and Drink: Offering an Experience

By Mike Nedeau Food & Beverage Director, Geneva National Resort & Club | July 29, 2018

Remember the last time you went on vacation, stayed in a hotel or villa? Sure, but do you remember the dinners you ate, beverages consumed, and the atmosphere you were a part of? Maybe, yet most of us remember the slip and slide, mini golfing after drinking a couple bottles of wine, or the pool volley ball match where dad got a "little aggressive". Those are experiences, and within the food and beverage industry, we need to beef up (pun intended), our offerings to those who give us money, and more importantly, their time.

More than ever, in today's world we need be offering an "experience" when dining. The days of going to a restaurant or bar, sitting down getting our grub on and leaving without debating if that was worth it, are over. These days diners are looking for more. They are looking for that one thing to gel their evening, combine quality and quantity and to remember the great experience they had. We can get a great filet mignon, or some hamburger with the "world's hottest pepper" or some other gimmick to intrigue you to buy it just about anywhere.

The last time I was in San Francisco, every third block had the "world's best hamburger", or "best crab cakes" Sure there are 5 "world's best crab cakes"! That's like saying there are 5 Lebron James, or 5 Michael Phelps in the world. News flash, there can be only one. Winning the men's freestyle in swimming, only ONE gold medal is given, not 2,3,4, or 5. What I'm saying is, your food and beverage may taste ok, but does the guest feel like they are getting an experience, something different, unique, trendy, local, etc. when they dine at your restaurant, pool bar, or any other food and beverage outlet in your hotel?


Just about every food and beverage outlet has Open Table, or some other reservations system. When someone calls in they give a name, many times these guests become regulars. Now is the time to offer one aspect of the experience. Train your staff to remember not only faces, but also your guests' names. Even in tourist vacation areas like Orlando, San Francisco, many people come back year after year. Save their contact information with notes like "Mr. Johnson likes to be called Bill, not Mr. Johnson, or saving their favorite drinks, Bill likes his vodka tonic with a lemon, not a lime. Regulars are much easier, and these subtle differences make an impact on the experience they are having. This is that personal touch that keeps the costumer coming back for more. Creating regulars, addressing a guest by name simply adds to their overall experience and they will always remember you.


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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.