Bars and restaurants are becoming a more integral part of the hotel guest experience.
In fact, several hotel chains have woven nightlife and bars into the fabric of the brand identity.
The W is recognized as not just a hotel chain but also a luxury nightlife destination. This year, Fairmont Hotels called upon six mixologists from properties located throughout the world to create their Classics Perfected cocktail program. Marriott’s Moxy brand has turned their lobbies into bars and social gathering spaces. The bars and lounges inside Ace Hotel properties are full-on nightlife and social scenes.
Some hotel bars have become so iconic—Broken Shaker, JIMMY at the James, Alibi Bar & Lounge—they’re arguably more famous than the property inside or atop of which they’re located.
Midnight Rambler inside the Joule Hotel in Dallas, TX, won our 2019 Hotel Bar of the Year award. Cindy’s, the rooftop bar and restaurant at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel won our 2019 Rooftop Bar of the Year. ROOF on theWit, an amazing lounge on top of theWit Chicago, a DoubleTree by Hilton property, earned our 2018 Hotel Bar of the Year award.
TAO Group Hospitality and Hakkasan Group are among elite multi-brand operators located inside some of the most prestigious hotels around the globe. We spoke with Garrett Schott, beverage director at Irvine Marriott, about the hotel’s decision to renovate their well-known YNK lounge, including a retooling of the cocktail menu. The same property also decided to build a speakeasy—The Butchershop—located in the hotel’s kitchen.
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Hotel brands are investing in their bars and restaurants, developing fully fledged nightlife and social scenes to go along with them. They clearly see that food and beverage beyond what’s available via room service can enhance the guest experience, creating loyalty among their guests and local diners and drinkers as well.
This interest in bars and restaurants as destinations within destinations got the attention of SevenRooms, the F&B system of record for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. By August of next year, the SevenRooms suite of tools will have been implemented at all 32 of Mandarin Oriental’s luxury hotel properties and resorts.
Earlier this year we reported on how SevenRooms predicted operators will use future technologies; how their platform has modernized the guest experience; and how eatertainment is the new nightclub. Today, SevenRooms released their latest report, “Checking in with F&B,” a look at hotel food and beverage priorities, guest expectations, and the guest experience. As we enter the end-of-year holiday and travel season, several of their insights can inform not only hotel operators but bar and restaurant operators, particularly those operating in destination cities.
According to the data, 27 percent of hotel guests want restaurants and bars that are open late. Just under one-fifth, 19 percent, want hotel bars and restaurants to use locally sourced ingredients. That’s one trend that has, so far, withstood the test of time: guests want the dining and drinking establishments they frequent to support local.
That desire extends to entertainment. Twenty-three percent of Americans “love” when a hotel features local talent and performers at their property.
Hotel operators should know that 35 percent of guests want multiple dining options from one property. Thirty-one percent desire 24-hour availability of room service.
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The findings revealed in SevenRooms’ newest report identify more parallels between hotels, bars and restaurants. Changes in consumer behavior, preferences and expectations are affecting not just the bar and restaurant guest experience but also how people want to use hotels. For example, 34 percent of hotel guests want a variety of food options so that all dietary restrictions and preferences are honored. Further speaking to that desire, 19 percent would like the hotel they’ve booked to inquire about their dietary restrictions and preferences before their arrival.
Personalization has become an increasingly important aspect of the guest experience. Bar and restaurant guests have, for the past few years, shown an affinity for venues that allow them to customize food and beverage items.
That desire is bleeding over to the hotel space, with 14 percent of guests wanting minibars to be personalized to feature their snack and drink preferences based on allergies, dietary restrictions and preferences, and prior visits. Almost a quarter, 23 percent, would like to receive personalized offers from hotels based on previous stays and their dining histories.
If, as many industry experts have predicted, costs continue to rise through next year, a significant portion of consumers will become sensitive to price. As such, creative rewards and loyalty programs may prove attractive to bar, restaurant and hotel guests.
Not only are 32 percent of Americans more likely to book a stay at a hotel for the first time or for a return trip if it offered rewards for its bars and restaurants, 36 percent would book stays with one brand that operated in multiple cities if it made it simple to earn and redeem rewards at their bars and restaurants.
A poor guest experience at a bar or restaurant located at a hotel property can have an undesirable ripple effect. Just over one quarter of hotel guests, 26 percent, would reconsider booking with a hotel brand again if they received bad service at just one of their dining or drinking venues.
That low tolerance for poor service is reflected in another datapoint from the SevenRooms report: 17 percent of locals perceive bars and restaurants operated by hotels in their area as offering higher levels of service than bars and restaurants. With 26 percent of Americans thinking that hotels should use their restaurants and hotels to engage more with locals but the same percentage willing to write off an entire hotel brand over a single incident of poor service, the pressure hotel brands face over their F&B operations is palpable.
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The datapoints regarding locals also show that bars and restaurants outside of hotels need to keep their heads on a swivel. In addition to third-party delivery, increasing costs, and fears of possible economic instability, bar and restaurants operators must now be aware that their hotel counterparts will be competing against them to attract locals and tourists.
However, hotel bar and restaurant operators can learn lessons from bar and restaurant operators not located on hotels, and vice versa. Hotels, evidenced by the 17 percent of locals who believe they offer superior service, have mastered the art of customer relationship management and leveraging guest data. Bar and restaurant operators located outside of hotels have proven their agility, adapting to shifts in consumer behavior—like the preferences for personalization and diverse menus—for the past few years.
“Checking in for F&B.” SevenRooms. November 7, 2019.