Finding the recipe for hotel restaurant success
Finding the recipe for hotel restaurant success
29 AUGUST 2017 7:21 AM

Use these tips to improve your hotel restaurant’s contribution to the bottom line.

One of the biggest challenges that a hotel operator faces today is finding the right formula for running a successful and profitable restaurant.

While we can debate how much profit a restaurant has the ability to deliver to a hotel’s bottom line, we can agree that all too often it is a cost burden rather than a revenue generator. It is for that very reason that a restaurant’s operation must be carefully managed at every level, including concept, food and labor costs, proper positioning and effective sales, marketing and public relations.

So let’s take a look at what should be on every hotel’s restaurant menu, pardon the pun, in order to deliver a revenue stream, rather than a financial burden, to the bottom line.

First course: Dining concept
Offer a restaurant product that is relevant, current and exciting. While by their nature those might all appear to be aspirational terms, they all play an integral part in every restaurant’s success.

A smart hotel operator needs to be vigilant by closely following dining and bar trends, which includes identifying best-in-class restaurants. Equally important is the ability to have a clear “North Star” followed by the agility to quickly implement defined concepts, and without ambiguity, in order to be competitive in the marketplace.

It’s imperative the guest understands the restaurant offering long before taking their seat at your hotel’s bar or restaurant. In the past year alone, Hilton has launched new restaurant concepts across many of its 14 brands in Austin, Texas; Chicago; Oklahoma City; Portland, Oregon; New York; San Francisco; and many other large and smaller markets as a way to drive new business to its hotels.

Second course: Operations
Have the correct operating model. This is the science behind any profitable restaurant/bar operation.

In a hotel restaurant environment, roughly 70% of costs go into labor followed by goods and supplies. Since team member labor is a large component of the operating model, managing labor costs is achieved by having strong leadership in place with the experience to anticipate hiring levels that are properly scaled to fluctuating business levels. Having the right menu engineering also has a direct impact on maximizing the management of raw costs such as food and beverage.

Final course: Staffing
Find and retain an engaged “dream team.” This not only includes great culinary talent but also applies to both front- and back-of-the-house employees.

Having the right leadership in place will not only inspire and engage talented team members, but will be the ultimate driver of delivering a positive and memorable guest experience. One more key ingredient is solid training to properly present the menu. By doing so, restaurants will yield higher checks and ultimately more profitability to the operation. Even the best menu in the world has the potential to fail if management, bartenders and servers can’t effectively sell it.

Hotel banquets should ideally mirror the same operating model as a hotel restaurant, albeit on a larger scale.

Without question, a hotel restaurant is one of the most complex aspects of a hotel’s operations. What’s more, a restaurant is often the best opportunity for a hotel to connect with a guest. By its very nature, the travel experience often is uncertain and can quickly take us out of our comfort zone.

A hotel operator and general manager should view a property’s restaurant and bar as an opportunity to embrace every guest who enters its doors by providing a memorable experience while making a new friend or welcoming back an old friend. Restaurants offer the perfect environment to display genuine hospitality.

Joseph (Joe) Berger is EVP and president, Americas for Hilton. He is responsible for the operations functions of over 300 corporately managed Hilton hotels throughout North, Central and South America.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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