F&B experts are becoming more innovative in their approach to revenue management, from creating new lobby bars for drinks and light bites to revamped roomservice to more grab-and-go concepts.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Food-and-beverage managers are more creative than ever as they experiment with new concepts, and it’s paying off in more effective revenue management and higher profits.
Focus is being put on such novel approaches as scaled-back roomservice, cozy new lobby bar areas that attract both guests and locals, and grab-and-go menu items that cater to busy business travelers.
That creativity correlates to performance gains. Total F&B Revenue per Occupied Room (RevPOR) was up 3.6% for 2018 year-to-date through June, compared to the same period last year, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now. Revenue per available seat for restaurants and bars increased 4.9% in the same period. In-room dining revenue per occupied room was down 2.1%, indicating that traditional roomservice is ripe for changes.
“When F&B outlets are really run like businesses, and the manager has the mentality to be responsible for profitability, then you see more successful revenue management,” said Deborah Friedland, managing director in the corporate finance group and head of hospitality advisory services for accounting firm EisnerAmper.
Concord Hospitality, which owns and manages a portfolio of 102 hotels, has developed some of its new-construction hotels to include F&B spaces that are more centrally located in the lobby, Dean Wendel, Concord’s corporate director of food and beverage, said.
“We have these areas look great and feel good and inviting, with the music and lighting appropriate for the different time of the day,” he said.
The menus also feature more small plates and new cocktail creations and liquor tastings, which have added $200 to $300 a day in incremental revenue at some properties, he said.
Better use of space
Veronica Andrews, STR’s director of digital data solutions, said the growth in revenue from F&B “can in part be attributed to really creative uses of flexible space, such as the development of lobby bars where there was once was nothing and even the growth of pop-up F&B spaces.” She added there also are more “communal spaces in hotels serving drinks and food.”
These communal spaces both serve the hotel’s guests and bring in non-guests from the community, sources said.
At the 1,200-room Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, the lobby lounge concept is so popular that the hotel is adding 35 seats to its lounge starting in December. “By increasing the seating for this area, we will be able to increase F&B revenue,” said James Samson, the hotel’s director of F&B.
Another way hotels are utilizing already-available lobby space to bring in additional F&B revenue is to sell light fare between breakfast and lunch, Friedland said.
To revamp traditional roomservice, some hotels are experimenting with delivering food in a more casual setting, like in a neatly-packaged box to the guest rooms, Andrews said.
Marriott International’s “Fresh Bites” roomservice touts “locally sourced food delivered quickly to (guestrooms) without carts or fuss, packaged to enjoy in your room or on the go.” Guests also can choose to pick up these to-go menu items at the hotel restaurant.
In June, the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile added cocktails to its “Fresh Bites” menu, which contributed to the hotel having one of its highest F&B revenue producing months, Samson said. In August, the property will allow guests who are Marriott Rewards members to order these menu items—which include sandwiches, salads and burgers—through their mobile devices, he added.
With meetings groups, hoteliers also are looking for new F&B revenue streams that can be sold as part of catering packages. One trend growing in popularity is specialty coffee, espressos and teas, Friedland said.