Food and beverage has always been a precarious prospect for most hoteliers. While the “hospitality” industry encompasses the discipline, most operators are rooms people—not world-class restaurateurs.
So why keep at it? Simple. Most travelers demand the space or at least have come to expect it. And yet the general perception is the quality of these restaurants is average at best.
It’s an interesting paradox, really. The guest seems to be saying, “You must have a full-service restaurant to be worthy of my stay!” and with the next breath admit, “But I’d never actually eat there.”
This confusing dilemma attracted its fair amount of attention during this week’s Boutique Hotel Summit. It’s always something of a sore subject for operator-focused events such as this. The slant toward the boutique segment made it even more prominent.
Whereas big-box, full-service hotels averaging 250 rooms typically have a constant base of demand for their F&B outlets, smaller, 20-room boutiques aren’t always as lucky. Put another way: Success in the boutique game requires outside demand.
But how does one generate outside demand? It’s easy to say, “Have a top-grade restaurant,” but making that a reality is a tad more difficult, conference attendees admitted.
One possible solution that’s become en vogue in recent years is recruiting a celebrity chef to drum up publicity and demand. For example, Sanguine Hospitality, which manages $313 million worth of hotel assets in the United Kingdom, franchises from the Michelin-rated Marco Pierre White chain at several of its properties.
“The name probably at least doubles the revenue we get,” said Sanguine’s CEO Robin Wicks, who addressed the topic during a general session at the conference.
Granted, not every hotelier will want to bring on an internationally recognized name such as Marco Pierre White—and that’s OK. Sometimes an up-and-coming regional player can provide a much-needed revenue boost as well. The key, Wicks said, is to do what’s best for you.
Sometimes that means franchising from a well-known name. Sometimes it means leasing a space to a savvy local chef. Other times it means giving free rein to a promising young restaurateur.
“Who knows,” chef Mark Greenaway said. “He might become that celebrity chef.”
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week:
$1.9 billion: The acquisition price Blackstone Group paid Accor for the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands. The transaction incorporated 1,102 hotels with 107,347 rooms. Blackstone already is an industry heavyweight and owns several hotel brands, including: Hilton Worldwide, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Extended Stay America and Mint Hotels. Read more about the deal.
Quote of the week:
“Until then, it’s still going to be limited, choppy, hit or miss."
—Christopher Jordan, executive VP and group head of the hospitality finance group for Wells Fargo & Company, on the short-term outlook for commercial, mortgage-backed securities in "Debt crunch end in sight? Maybe, maybe not."
Comment of the week:
"I tend to agree with the STR forecasts as being more realistic than the other overly optimistic numbers of the industry. I hate to sound like a commercial, but the STR numbers look at factors that are more 'street' than corporate and thus give a number that is much more deliverable."
--Commenter "Vlado Lenoch" discussing the forecasting prowess of our parent company STR in response to "A field guide to forecasting."
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
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