In a time when there are barely any guests staying in hotels, which means hotels now have lost their main source of revenue, it is high time hotels took advantage of their other services to boost revenue.
Why F&B? And why now?
The main service of hotels is to provide accommodation for guests; however, the pandemic situation since last year has compressed the hotel’s room capacity tremendously to nearly zero as there are not many international visitors. In addition, with social distancing measures being implemented in many countries, spa or bar services in the hotel are also either partly restricted or completely banned. Restaurants in hotels are also forced to farther distance their tables, limit the number of guests served at the same time, as well as be forced to suspend buffet serving, one of the most profitable F&B services in the hotel. Nevertheless, as destinations further tighten the distancing measures with full lockdown and put a halt to all economic activities and non-essential services, hotels need to start having fresh initiatives to expand their offerings to cope with the current situation, avoiding a complete shutdown, one of which is to adjust and innovate F&B offerings.
In addition to Covid-19, another reason for hotels to pay more attention to F&B services is the emergence and large contribution of Millennials and Gen Zers in the tourism industry as well as in hotel and hospitality. These two groups of travelers are the main driving force of the experience economy as they focus on the authenticity of their travel experiences. For hotels, the factor that creates an authentic experience lies in the F&B services originally offered by the hotel’s restaurants, with more than 50 percent of hotel guests saying that F&B service plays a major role in their hotel choices (according to SevenRooms’ report).
What can hotels do to adapt and expand their F&B offerings?
Currently, many hotels have quickly introduced new measures to concentrate more on their F&B services, and most of them came up with a new food delivery program for their exclusive menus through their own channels or other distribution channels besides normal OTAs that mainly focus on room bookings. Grand Hotel, Dong Khanh, Rex Saigon, and Hanoi Daewoo Hotel are some of the hotels in Vietnam that have stopped dine-in services and switched to delivery services. With this new initiative, the hotels have their guest database as the advantage as they know exactly what their guests’ preferences and eating habits are, so it is quite easy to connect with the guests and introduce suitable menus accordingly to their tastes.
In addition to home delivery, some hotels also bring their chefs to the guest’s house to cook for them, and may include decorating and table settings so that their customers can enjoy a luxurious five-star-hotel-standard dining experience at the comfort of their home. With this idea, the hotel will take care of cooking, arranging the dishes, creating the atmosphere with props accordingly to the wishes as well as cleaning up after meals. For instance, Park Hyatt Saigon has created a program in which it sends chefs to each home to prepare and serve its exclusive signature Wellington beef, or in which it sends bartenders to each home for high-end beverages in exclusive home gatherings. However, with such a complicated situation as many provinces and cities across Vietnam are implementing strict distancing and crowd bans, this great idea may have to be delayed for a bit of time.
Furthermore, there are still other creative measures to be considered. Morin Saigon Hotel started serving packed lunches for office staff in the city, which many guests adore and support enthusiastically. Also, two hotels under Alba, which are Alba Hotel and Alba Spa Hotel, in Hue even opened a fresh food stall with ingredients from its Alba farms, besides renewing the menu and at-home food delivery on a daily basis.
How can expanding F&B services help the hotel?
Obviously, the expansion of F&B services will help the hotel get more revenue in this challenging time. Regarding operations, maintaining F&B services will help the hotel retain a certain number of its employees and ensure their livelihood.
In terms of branding, taking advantage of the restaurant’s F&B dishes or services will help hotels continue to maintain their brand image in the hearts of customers. Besides, if hotel members are privileged with special and exclusive promotions, they are more likely to stick to this option for their next plans. Especially, any hotel in chain hotels once nails this can contribute to building brand loyalty for the whole franchise. Last but not least, these expanded F&B services may allow the hotels to reach new potential customers for the future.
Hotels can consider taking advantage of the services which were not really a strong point in the past so that they can adjust themselves in line with the general market situation and with the tastes of their customers. In addition to F&B services, hotels can also boost other services as long as their initiatives match the needs and ensure safety regulations. Hotels should never limit themselves to only accommodation and room services, but always explore and exploit the full potential of all the services in their offerings so that they can stay proactive no matter the situation.