Hotels have an opportunity to leverage food and beverage service as a competitive differentiator for an unusual Summer rush. One result of the COVID restrictions that have been in place in many regions is that many people have spent an unprecedented amount of time in their homes. As a result, as restrictions lift, many consumers are looking for a change of scenery. This desire is balanced with the fact that most aren’t yet comfortable with air travel, and many international borders remain under restriction. The outcome is a surge in guests looking for close to home accommodation. Airbnb recently saw more nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than the same period in 2019, and a similar boost in domestic travel globally.
While most hotels have a restaurant(s) or other food and beverage offerings, transforming dining from an amenity to an experience can be a significant factor in driving bookings and revenue. The millennial demographic, in particular, are drawn to experiences over traditional locations. Where Airbnb or VRBO can provide guests a kitchen to cook for themselves, hotels can provide a dining experience that most guests aren’t capable of replicating. Consider showcasing local ingredients, fresh sheets of dishes that are unusual or regional, and the ambiance of the location.
A 2019 report suggests that food and beverage options are a key component consumers use to choose accommodations. 35% of those surveyed believe that a hotel with exciting or well-regarded dining options is more memorable than one without. The same percentage prefer hotels with a variety of dining options, and 27% want restaurants or bars that are open late. Many guests will also frequent the restaurants and bars nearby, or pursue dining options elsewhere, but 33% responded that they would consume at least one meal at their hotel.
One of the other attractions of short-term rentals is the feeling of being embedded in the community, living like a local. By bringing resident culture into the hotel, operators can provide that experience along with the benefits of a hotel stay.
Consider how to engage the community you exist in. A promotion for residents of your city or state that includes dinner, one-night stay, and a local excursion can help people feel like ‘they got away,’ even though they may be in the same zip code. Or perhaps host a weekly block party that allows non-guests to take advantage of the hotel amenities and provide an accessible bar with live music and a dinner special. The exact way to engage with potential guests who live nearby will be dependent on location but provides an avenue to build out and differentiate the experience from the competition.
Finally, hotels have the opportunity to leverage the trust they have spent so long building. As regions re-open, sanitization and safety are vital concerns for guests. Hotels meet a higher standard concerning safety regulations than most short-term rentals, and that’s reflected in guest’s belief that hotels are more sanitary. Providing them with capabilities like ordering and paying on mobile; disposable, virtual or single-use menus; virtual room keys; and contactless payment options is a way to separate yourself from others.
After many weeks at home, guests are going be looking at options near them that can help them feel they’ve had a new experience. Transforming your food and beverage options from an amenity to an identity helps you exceed their expectations.