Going local – The next ‘big thing’ for hotels?

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Going local – The next ‘big thing’ for hotels?

dinner table

Traditionally, when people want to eat out, a hotel restaurant is not usually top of their list. The general assumption is that hotel restaurants are for hotel guests; where guests eat breakfast (probably from a buffet) before a business meeting, or tuck into a hearty dinner after a hard day’s sightseeing.

Lisa Chambers, Operations & HR Director comments: “I believe part of the problem lies with the guest’ perception that hotel restaurants are bland uninspiring spaces, serving simple, functional food. The vanilla of the culinary scene if you like, catering for tourists and business people. But this is changing, it has had to, as hoteliers look for new ways to stand out from the competition.”

Hoteliers are looking to differentiate themselves by offering a truly unique dining experience, and in doing so, capture the attention of a local who is looking for a ‘different’ place to eat.

Recognising that engaging with locals can add a steady stream of revenue which could help the bottom line during slower times of year, more and more hotels are starting to focus on the local market.

Giving hotel restaurants local appeal

So, how do you go about transforming your three-meals-a-day hotel restaurant into a restaurant in its own right?

A good place to start is the restaurant space. Designing the restaurant to have its own entrance and therefore its own identity will help change local guest perception. If possible, opening up the kitchen and offering seating that overlooks what’s happening also makes the dining experience more exciting and unique.

Focusing on a particular style of food or celebrating home-grown culinary talent. For example, giving guests the chance to get to know ‘homegrown’ chefs and offering a menu jam-packed with local, seasonal ingredients will appeal to the growing trend of guests wanting to support their local producers.

Supper club evenings and themed tasting menus are proving hugely popular and these can be advertised to local guests as well as a special event for hotel guests.

Lisa comments: “Invite the local community into your hotel space. Showing them around with a glass of wine and reminding them that sometimes a Sunday lunch with friends and family just a few doors down from their home can make for a super relaxing end to the weekend. Offering the opportunity to sit and relax in one of your drawing rooms or lounges with coffee and the papers – enabling them to spend time in your hotel without the bill on checkout.

If they feel relaxed and confident in your service whether it’s for coffee or a full dining experience they will be more likely to return and use you as their ‘go to’ hotel for recommendations and overflow of family at Christmas.

Promotional activity is also key to maintaining engagement with any target market. It’s important to understand who you are targeting with any activity and then use specific messages that will appeal to that particular audience. One marketing campaign will not fit all.”

So, creating a separate branding and marketing strategy for the restaurant side of the business is crucial to widen the appeal of your restaurant to a local market who are not looking for an over-night stay.

As the number of locals having positive experiences at hotel restaurants increases, the more positive feedback will be posted on review sites. And we all know the power of good reviews – they can influence decisions on where to eat in an instant.

What makes a hotel restaurant successful?

Today’s diner is more demanding and informed that ever. The pressure for restaurants to create a unique and memorable dining experience is growing. For hotels however, this could be an opportunity to differentiate themselves with a truly unique offering and experience.

So many ingredients contribute to the success of a hotel restaurant: how guests perceive the brand, the experience delivered by staff, and the food served each day. So, capturing comments and measuring what people are saying about the experience is vital to ensure you provide the experience local’s want and ultimately the success of a hotel restaurant.

If you’d like to find out how our services can help you capture the attention of a local looking for a new place eat, get in touch today by calling 01225 470999 or email enquiries@hgem.com.

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