For Millennials and Beyond: A New Creative Era in Hotel Food and Beverage

By Dianna Vaughan Global Head & Senior Vice President, All Suites Brands by Hilton | August 19, 2018

What do Millennials know about food and beverage? More than enough, it's clear, to influence the way that the hotel industry is conceptualizing the dining experience, from the kinds of food and drinks that are presented to the spaces where they're enjoyed. Across segments, brands and independent properties are stepping up with F&B offerings that reflect some well-researched Millennial Generation musts: unique social gathering places, fresh and organic food (think farm-to-table), and a focus on local craft beverages.

The All Suites brands by Hilton, however, believe that the real message being delivered by this young, dynamic demographic is more subtle than simple marketing formulas may suggest, and more relevant to all generations of travelers than most marketing experts may realize. The fact is, while Millennials are telling us what they want today, they are also suggesting that it may very well change tomorrow. In other words, the generation that enjoys experimentation is sending a valuable signal that brands and properties, including their dining options, must be inventive, continually evolving, and endlessly adaptable.

A Demographic Lesson That Spans Generations

Millennials are teaching us that there is always more to learn, and that while trends must be analyzed and embraced, they are ultimately impermanent. For many properties, lasting success will likely be derived from delivering a range of experiences that entice this younger generation, while also recognizing how to position these strategic Millennial-focused offerings for the future - and for travelers of all ages.

This idea has informed some of our newest food and beverage offerings at Embassy Suites by Hilton, where we have refreshed and relaunched the E'Terie fast-casual dining concept created for legacy hotels, and created Brickstones Kitchen & Bar, a contemporary full-service restaurant developed for new hotels.

E'Terie provides the travelers with an inventive selection of light bite menu items in a bar-centered environment, appealing directly to the Millennial desire for unique, adventurous, and shareable offerings served up in a social setting. At the same time, the approach allows for easy menu changes as new dishes and drinks become the latest trend. This means that E'Terie gives owners an operational advantage, allowing them to adapt offerings to their market and guests' ever-changing tastes. While the dining experience appeals to the new foodie generation, it is not truly generation-specific; the goal is to allow customization to overall guest desires. E'Terie also gives owners the ability to leverage existing infrastructure. For instance, properties can re-purpose the displays utilized during the cooked-to-order breakfast and the main kitchen, making the light bite strategy cost-efficient to implement.

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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.