CHICAGO—Suites hotels are leading the lodging pack for increased traffic in food and beverage, according to new data.
Datassential’s “The Keynote Report: Lodging/Recreation” shows that guests are increasingly buying more F&B at hotels in this category—Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Residence Inn and SpringHill Suites, to name a few.
“Food is an important focus for most lodging venues, especially high and mid-range, but also a vital consideration for budget establishments. Operators can lose incremental sales opportunities from foodservice if they aren’t providing quality food programs, or miss out on returning guests if a meal is disappointing,” said Jackie Rodriguez, senior project manager, Datassential, based here. “A majority of consumers told us that food and beverage are important elements of their overall experience across a range of lodging categories, from budget hotels to high-end hotels and resorts.”
While each lodging site offers its own experience, Datassential created 10 identifiable categories of lodges—ranging from campgrounds and motels to high-end hotel and resorts. Rodriguez noted that suites have several points of differentiation that warrant special attention, especially around F&B.
“For example, the nightly manager’s cocktail reception has become a popular way for properties to engage the longer-term guests that are often attracted to suites hotels, with some chains upgrading their complimentary offerings to the level of a light dinner,” she said.
Among survey respondents’ notable F&B improvements included the following:
- Extending room service hours (potentially with more limited options), making retail items available 24 hours, and offering other all-day items from coffee bars to snack kiosks to increase the effectiveness of a foodservice program, particularly with younger consumers.
- Lodging segments exceed expectations on issues closer to “restaurant-quality food” including freshly prepared items, which ranked at the top for improvements seen by hotel guests based on their last visit.
- Refocusing on better quality, broader variety and options geared more toward growth drivers (millennials and men) may improve the overall impact to the operation.
- Convenience stores and vending machines trail well behind other options by appeal. Innovations in vending and improved convenience store designs, options and hours could make these on-site food options far more impactful for both the operator and the visitor.
“In our research, suites hotels had the second-highest highest usage of food and beverage among lodging categories—behind only high-end hotels and resorts—with 60% of guests always or frequently ordering when staying at that type of venue,” she said. “Perceptions around the quality of food options at suites hotels also are among the highest.”
For hoteliers seeking to leverage the F&B component to remain competitive, Rodriguez recommends paying attention to foodservice opportunities across the gamut of lodging options from high- to low-cost venues.
“For lodging operators with existing food programs, it may not be necessary to completely overhaul those programs, but rather rethink the breadth and depth of offerings. Extending the hours of an existing coffee bar, for example, may be successful in keeping business travelers on-site during work hours,” she said. “Lodging consumers are looking for more variety—in some cases more options and in other cases more interesting items—as well as a broader array of healthy food and beverages.”
What’s driving F&B spending at these suite hotels compared to high-end properties?
“One of the biggest hurdles of lodging food and beverage programs across all categories is perceived cost, so value-oriented properties need to be mindful of aligning their pricing with their overall positioning,” she said. “Consumers also say they would order food more often if it were of restaurant quality, so it’s important to keep an eye on menu trends and what nearby restaurants are offering.”
In the end, it’s clear that happy guests equal a positive bottom line.
“One of the biggest takeaways is that consumers overall are happy with their food and beverage options when staying away from home, but there is definitely room for improvement,” she said. “High-end properties and suites, for example, get high marks for freshly prepared items, but less so for healthy or kid-friendly options. The key is to match your offerings to the guests you want to target and incorporate them into the overall experience.”