Hotel Guests Aren’t Interested In “Hotel Restaurants”
Your vacation is booked, now it’s time to make your dinner reservations. Where do you begin? Yelp, Facebook, Google? Why not right inside your hotel? Hotels across the country are missing out on food and beverage revenue because travelers have become accustomed to looking beyond hotel walls for uniquely local, authentic or Instagram-worthy dining experiences.
The traditional business model has followed the path of plan your hotel, build an expansive restaurant, hire a banquet focused chef and serve three meals a day plus room service. And on top of this, make sure the space is comfortably designed for breakfast diners, adaptable to lunch meetings and attractive for evening leisure guests. Owners and operators have created a watered down guest experience, a venue where mediocrity thrives, because they are trying to be a jack of all trades to everyone, but end up being a master of none. Without engaging the right operator to participate in the planning and design phase of a project, the restaurant gets pushed to the back – an apathetic aside since it is not producing significant revenue.
“Owners and operators have created a watered down guest experience, a venue where mediocrity thrives, because they are trying to be a jack of all trades to everyone, but end up being a master of none.”
A New Approach to Hotel Restaurants
Along the way, hotel executives figured out that they needed to pay attention to what the independent restaurateurs were doing: hiring top talent, sourcing locally, updating menus, creating dining experiences. The paradox, however, is that they decided to hire these experienced hospitality veterans to help them, and just attempted to figure it out as they went and falling back into the same practices as before. The same constraints remain in place though, a need to be everything to all travelers at all times of the day and the top talent grows weary of the breakfast service taking away from their main focus. To put it bluntly, the archaic brand standards are keeping them from reaching their full potential.
The Indigo Road Hospitality Group is rethinking this approach and the way hotels program food and beverage. A lifestyle company with hospitality at our core, we are a restaurant company first. We know statistically that restaurants drive room nights. Instead of viewing the restaurant as a step in the process, we view the hotel as an added benefit to the restaurant guest. As independent, boutique hotel operators, we have the flexibility to shift our mindset on this. We know that nothing makes a property more successful than a desirable, “hot” restaurant. How does our team do this? We rearrange the path of development.
“Instead of viewing the restaurant as a step in the process, we view the hotel as an added benefit to the restaurant guest.“
The New Development Path
- Hire the right operator BEFORE you begin to design.
- The type of restaurant and F&B offering should drive all your plans: design, development, execution, marketing.
- Develop an identity specific to the restaurant. An example of this, does the restaurant have its own street presence and entrance beyond the lobby walls.
- Accept that you do not have to serve three meals a day. Think about an enhanced coffee bar for breakfast, do you really need to serve lunch, and create an excellent dinner service.
While there are always exceptions, certainly resorts and convention properties have certain expectations, we believe in focusing on food & beverage first to create and operate a successful experience-driven, lifestyle hotel.
CVO & Founder
Steve Palmer, a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur Award nominee and semifinalist for three consecutive years (’18,’19, & ’20) is the managing partner of the hospitality and consulting company, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group. The company was founded in 2009 in Charleston, SC, when Palmer began working with the celebrated restaurant Oak Steakhouse on historic Broad Street.
Palmer attributes the company’s rapid growth and success to his loyal and dedicated team. He maintains the philosophy that great service starts with well cared for employees. By promoting from within and continuing to create new opportunities for his staff, Palmer has developed a strong company culture that is reflected within the walls of each of his concepts, resulting in an unwavering level of hospitality experienced by guests and patrons.
In January 2017, The Post & Courier recognized Palmer not only for his growing leadership role within the hospitality industry, but also for his charitable and community efforts. Palmer is a longtime supporter of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry and Charleston’s Feed the Need coalition. In 2016, Palmer founded Ben’s Friends, the food and beverage industry support group offering hope, fellowship, and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. He has been recognized by The New York Times, NPR, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine and Charleston Magazine for his work, and has presented at TedX Charleston and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.