The Recipes for Success and Failure in the Volatile World of Hospitality
Every summer hotels, restaurants, theme parks and plenty of other travel related businesses gear up for the fat-pocketed traveler, prepared to do whatever it takes to turn over a profit. Just as eagerly, the traveler himself, money in wallet, is prepared to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, on food, lodging and entertainment just to create a memory that can be filed with all of the other past fun-filled summers they have experienced. The travel industry is a $4 trillion plus per year market (PTS 1).
Every aspect of the travel experience account for the tremendous revenues made, with some businesses traditionally generating much more income than others. The traveler is who makes most of this revenue possible. After months, sometimes years of working, the long awaited break leaves no room for ill-made travel decisions. After all, the average family only travels two to three times a year (FEN 1). Plans are carefully mulled over, from where to go to what to do.
However, according to the Family Education Network (2004), the two most important decisions the traveler makes regarding vacations is where they will be staying and what they will be eating. When a person travels, they are leaving places familiar to visit places unfamiliar. The whole experience should entail visiting venues that are not common to the vacationer’s everyday life. Considering this, eating at a McDonalds would completely defeat the purpose of the ever-awaited vacation.
Those associated with the travel industry are aware of this and, in preparing to compete with rival businesses, the companies located in hot travel spots strive to win the traveler’s business via special offers and competitive pricing. They consider convenience, for those without transportation, comfort, and overall interest in the chosen vacation spot. In New Orleans, for example, famous for their Cajun meals, bead-tossing and exciting night life, Last Name 3 restaurants offer local cuisine and a Mardi Gras-type atmosphere.
Bourbon Street is covered in vibrant colors, unique businesses and one-of-a-kind restaurants, all aimed at gaining the dollar of the impressionable traveler. With numerous choices available to vacationers, lodging and eateries face the most competition. Hundreds of thousands of hotels, motels and inns are available for the traveler to stay in, as well as countless restaurants in which to eat at. As early as the days of dirt roads and brothels, hotels have incorporated restaurants into their facilities, attempting to provide convenience to their patrons.
The Old Corral Hotel and Steak House in Centennial, Wyoming, for example, has been serving travelers since 1872 (Fanselow 1). Still in business today, The Old Corral premised their business plan on the fact that tired, hungry travelers would be more likely to sleep at the same place they ate at if the option was available. They, obviously, were correct. The concept of hotel/restaurant combinations is not new. This duo has the ability to flourish, depending on the type of hotel and restaurant combined. It also, however, has the ability to fail miserably. There are countless reasons for the hotel restaurant’s success or failure.
Operation costs, employees and supplies are all necessary in order to function, and none of these items come free. As noted earlier, to win the business of the traveler, the companies involved must provide incentive to the traveler. Enticing offers, such as free stays and free food, can have a major impact on the profits generated by the restaurant, which can make this an unfair twosome (Richter 1). The options travelers have to make their traveling experience affordable are vast. In addition, the choices they make to form the most unique memories, as far as being somewhere
Last Name 4 different than home is concerned, are important. The decision about where to eat cannot be hastily made just to satisfy one’s hunger after a long day of being the tourist-like people the locals often make jokes about. With places to go and things to see, the “behind-the-scene” tactics a hotel restaurant can come up with to win the hotel patron’s business are essential in being successful. Hotel restaurants have every opportunity in front of them to make a generous profit, however, the opportunities do not stop at the front entry-ways of the hotel. The Hotel Restaurant
Around for as long as the first hotels were built, hotel restaurants have served the needs of the hungry traveler to no end. The hotel restaurant’s purpose is to provide convenience to the lodger, as well as being a marketing tool for the hotel. Hotels that include restaurants normally offer package deals to include meals, either a breakfast or a dinner, in order to alter the “potential client’s” status from ‘potential’ to ‘full-on’ client. This technique has served its purpose many times, as hotel patrons who are offered a free meal often take advantage of the offer.
Depending on the type of hotel, these restaurants can be lavish or casual. The atmosphere of the hotel usually indicates the type of restaurant located within its walls. Additionally, the hotel’s atmosphere also establishes the prices on the hotel restaurant’s menu. For example, New York’s Waldorf Astoria offers several elegant dining and bar options, all with pricing to match its status. In contrast, Holiday Inn often features casual chain restaurants, such as TGI Fridays, with reasonable pricing to compliment the hotel’s reasonable accommodation rates.
Often referred to as “concept restaurants”, the hotel restaurant partnership is becoming more and more common (Amarante 1). Convenience is the main reason the two have been Last Name 5 placed together, but next in line with convenience is opportunity itself. From the time the doors are opened to hotel clientele, as well as the general public, to the moment the doors close, the aim is profit, and together this duo has the opportunity to generate significant revenue. But what is it that leads a hotel restaurant to success or failure?
Let’s consider the cost of running a hotel restaurant. Generating Business for the Hotel Restaurant There are countless costs to consider when running a restaurant, much less a hotel restaurant. However, the hotel restaurant runs a greater risk of reaching failure, compared to the traditional restaurant. This is because not only do they have employees to compensate, supplies to purchase, and bills to pay, the hotel restaurant must collaborate with the partnered hotel to “make good” on offers made on the hotel’s part.
Often times, in order to generate business, a hotel will offer special package deals with the purchase of a room to include free meals provided by the in-house restaurant. The hotel restaurants, in turn, must comply with these offers, despite the fact that the cost of the meal is not re-cooped by the hotel guest. In addition, the guest often expects their meals to be free of charge as gratitude for business generated on their part, or in this case, lack there of. The hotel restaurant cannot depend on business generated by the hotel alone.
It must also conjure up a plan to generate its own business. Because there will be times that the hotel itself has hit a slump in occupancy, the hotel restaurant must compete with outside eateries. The restaurant’s goal is not only to obtain the business of hotel guests, but also that of the general public. Creating an inviting aura can be tricky, as there are still some people out there who think Last Name 6 that a hotel restaurant is reserved strictly for hotel guests. This is where the quality of the restaurant itself can make or break the business.
Because a potential restaurant guest who is not a patron of the hotel has numerous options available for dining, the restaurant must provide an extremely memorable experience for their guests. Anything that can be considered a “particular”, will be a factor in which no expense can be spared. Details such as curb appeal, staff appearance and knowledge, restaurant atmosphere and menu options all play roles in the type of traffic the restaurant receives. Surface Considerations The outside appearance of a hotel restaurant must grab the attention of any passer-bys.
Moreover, the restaurant’s curb appeal must also convey the type of service a customer can expect to receive once inside. Loud, up-beat music and colorful, flashy lighting on the outside of the restaurant can portray an exciting “inside” atmosphere, as dim lighting and low-volume piano ballads might portray a more formal and elegant atmosphere. While the literature the hotel provides its guests will inform them of the type of dining facilities the hotel offers, outsiders, or non-guests, must rely on what the external exterior of the hotel restaurant appears to be.
Successful hotel restaurants provide extended training to their servers, kitchen staff and bartenders to ensure that they are well informed about what the business is striving to achieve (Laube 1). The hotel restaurant does not want to lose the business of a martini lover, for example, due to a bartender who does not know how to mix that particular drink. Furthermore, such an atrocity can link the restaurant to a reputation of serving the worst martinis in town. Another example of knowledge being power within the hotel restaurant industry is the fact that Last Name 7
the majority of its customers will be out-of-towners and are curious about the local cuisine and attractions. The waitstaff are the front-liners for those information seekers. A waitress who knows nothing about the type of cuisine the hotel restaurant offers can be a discredit to the restaurant. In addition to knowledge, the appearance of the hotel restaurant staff members reflects the effort made on the restaurant’s part in providing a clean and competent dining experience for the guest. While uniforms are the standard for most restaurants, the goal in the hotel restaurant environment is uniformity (Stoller 1).
A set dress code of black bottoms and black tops for the wait staff, bartenders and hosts adds an element of sharpness to the overall appearance of the hotel restaurant operation. The personal appearance of the staff members themselves is also an area to be considered. Clean, kept hair, manicured hands and clean clothing are all musts in not only the hotel restaurant industry, but all restaurants in general. No person wants to be served by a waitress with chipped fingernail polish (which could end up in the customer’s food) and dirty-looking clothing.