Culinary Destinations: Creating Food-Centric Reasons for Guests to Stay at Your Hotel
As food becomes a bigger factor in global hospitality, F&B options are going to play an increasingly important role. People aren’t just going to go on vacation; they’re going to seek out the best eats at culinary destinations.
What is a Culinary Destination?
Simply put, it’s a hotel that people travel to because of its food. Instead of visiting Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, people will journey to a hotel — not a city — specifically because it has a fantastic F&B program.
It’s an idea similar to chef-owned hotels like Las Vegas’ Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace. Here, guests center their whole vacation around that one dining experience — to eat at the largest Nobu restaurant in the world. The fact that it’s in Las Vegas is a bonus.
Setting the Table: The Relationship Between Restaurants and Hotels
Thirty years ago, food and beverage programs were nothing more than an aside to hotels. A restaurant — if a hotel had one at all — was seen as a service that allowed an increase in room rates.
Enter the 1980s and 1990s, when having a restaurant in a hotel became the “in” thing. The only problem: very few were actually profitable. In many cases, it was less expensive to give away the food than to run a full service restaurant. And from that, we saw the birth of the complimentary breakfast.
Guests Book for Location, but Return for the Food
The idea that F&B is a necessary evil may seem logical. After all, it’s much easier to make a profit by filling a room than it is by filling a dinner table. But let’s look at the numbers:
- More than 38 percent of guests list a positive F&B experience as a reason for returning to a hotel.
- Guests who plan to return or recommend a hotel also rate F&B programs 21 percent more favorably than those who only visit once.
The key takeaway: a fantastic F&B program increases loyalty. People are, in fact, returning to hotels for the food.
In India, F&B Drives the Hospitality Market
India’s hospitality scene offers plenty of proof for the idea that F&B is becoming one of the most important factors in a hotel’s revenue stream. India’s Marriott hotels now see 40 percent of its properties’ revenue coming from F&B, and that’s a low estimate. InterContinental Group Hotels’ F&B programs generate 47 percent of the company’s overall revenue, compared to 40 percent in Asia and 15 percent with IGH’s European F&B programs.
For the U.S., Las Vegas Hotels Attract Customers with Nightlife
Bars & Nightclubs’ annual list of the top 100 earning U.S. nightclubs speaks volumes about how an F&B venue can become a destination. The XS at the Wynn Las Vegas and Marquee at The Cosmopolitan are tied for the nation’s top earning nightclubs (each bringing in as much as $90 million annually), with five other clubs at Las Vegas hotels making the top-ten list.
What’s Next: Culinary Destinations
Tampa, Florida recently saw the opening of the city’s first culinary hotel, the Epicurean Hotel — a $35 million, 137-room (each of which includes a pantry) venture that is entirely based around food. Along with the 80-seat restaurant, there is also a patisserie, wine store and rooftop bar. Cooking classes are also offered in an in-house theater, and there’s a food-centric spa.
Top 5 Reasons we Think The Epicurean Hotel Will Succeed:
- Everything is about the food. From the decor (cookbooks line the lobby walls, the lobby pillows sport utensil prints, and there’s an eight-foot statue of a fork and knife) to the foodie treatments at the spa, The Epicurean reminds guests that they’re there to eat. Why is that important? Because guests who are blown away by a hotel’s atmosphere spend nearly double what guests who are dissatisfied grudgingly shell out.
- The Epicurean Hotel consulted with experts (including the Marriott International Autograph Collection and Bern’s Steak House, Tampa’s best restaurant) to form what should be incredibly successful partnerships. Las Vegas’ Nobu Hotel took a similar approach when they teamed up with Caesars Palace. Both Nobu and Bern’s Steak House are household culinary names with an established client bases, bringing a unique perspective to help put heads in beds.
- The details are perfect. Not only are guest rooms stocked with gourmet goodies and top-notch wines, there is also info on wine and snack pairings. That gives the hotel an approachable feel — guests can walk in knowing nothing about wine and leave feeling like an expert.
- They realize an F&B program can be so much more than a restaurant. Sure, people like to eat on vacation, but they also want to be entertained. Culinary classes guests at The Epicurean an experience to talk about later.
- The hotel meets all of the guests foodie needs, and they do it in style. When someone wakes up and they’re hungry, there’s breakfast at the restaurant or a sugary something at the patisserie. Cocktails are on the roof; wine is available for purchase. If a guest desires anything F&B related, The Epicurean has it in-house.
- Thirty-eight percent of guests revisit hotels because they enjoyed the dining experience.
- In India and Asia, F&B programs are a vital part of a hotel’s profits, generating as much as 47 percent of the overall revenue.
- Creating a culinary destination requires an F&B program that is developed beyond an in-house restaurant. To make the venture a success, the food has to be more than an amenity.