Hotels are always searching for new ways to improve service, expand opportunities and move past the competition. Judging by the recent trends, hotel managers seeking to add value wherever they can shouldn’t neglect their breakfast programs. A strong breakfast offering can help tired travelers get ready for the business day, enjoy entertainment spots or simply gear up for more time on the road. However, putting out the usual continental spread isn’t cutting it anymore; guests want more.
The Food Channel reported in its 2011 food trends survey that 95 percent of respondents believe breakfast to be “somewhat” to “very important.” And a recent Technomic study shows hotel guests cite breakfast and coffee as the amenities they value most. Ned Barker, president of the hotel advisement group Grill Ventures Consulting, argues that the hotel breakfast business is at least a £12 billion industry.
Since it’s clear that breakfast is not just something guests look forward to, but also a deciding factor in where to stay, how can hotels ensure their offerings outpace the competition, driving traffic and revenue?
The new trends in consumer tastes indicate they prefer locally sourced, seasonal, organic and nutritious foods. Barker calls it a more “personal” approach to breakfast, because it appeals to a variety of tastes. This also includes offering gluten-free and vegan options. Expanding to offer international plates is also a way to pique guests’ attention, including everything from Latin to Middle Eastern selections. European style breakfasts are also quite popular currently, offering up cold cuts, various cheeses and baked beans.
As consumers are starting to focus on more healthy options in their food choices, it’s also important to provide lighter options for travelers.The buffet at the Crowne Plaza’s Vineyard Restaurant includes wholesome, fresh foods like yogurt parfaits, fruit, whole grain cereals and zucchini and carrot bread. These foods will give guests the energy to meet the day when it starts and hit the ground running.
Independent hotels are not the only ones to make changes to their breakfast menus though; franchise operations are upgrading their traditional eggs and bacon strategy. The Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, Wisconsin, noticed many of its guests were giving poor scores on breakfast satisfaction surveys. Some of the feedback they received indicated there was no variety; guests were getting tired of eating the same thing every day. The solution was to set several constant meal pieces that would appear every day, but also rotate in certain other dishes so travelers won’t face the same choice day in and day out.
However, presenting guests with healthy, quality options doesn’t have to be expensive. If a hotel can plan ahead and determine when items will be in season and less expensive, it doesn’t have to break the bank to make guests happy. And with the proper research, food and beverage directors can discover new twists on old breakfast options that aren’t expensive to produce. For example, when Choice Hotels discovered its guests were dissatisfied with the standard waffles available it tested new flavors including cinnamon, strawberry and blueberry, which are now available to guests.
Don't be complacent when it comes to breakfast at your hotel. It's a deciding factor for many travelers when they book a room, so make sure to offer the best available food and beverages. Change up the items so guests can experience new choices, and ask for their opinion on a regular basis so you improve and they leave satisfied.