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?

Names

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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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.