Blog / May 10, 2021
A Hotel’s Guide To Optimizing Outdoor F&B Outlets
Occupancy rates are rising and hotels are starting to fill as vaccine immunity becomes more widespread, warmer temperatures arrive and capacity restrictions are lifted. Plus, it’s soon to be summer which means vacations and holidays geared at outdoor celebrations and events. Think, Memorial Day and 4th of July!
Hotels are thinking about staffing, safety protocols and filling revenue-generating spaces like restaurants and bars. And for those who have the luxury of having outdoor F&B outlets on property, putting a strategy in place to maximize revenue is critical to success as we approach peak outdoor season.
Why is F&B so important?
- People want to get out and eat! After months of shelter-in-place regulations, consumers are eager to travel and have memorable dining experiences. However, many consumers still feel most comfortable eating outdoors, which is why taking advantage of these spaces is more important than ever.
- F&B can be the competitive advantage you need to stand out from the crowd as it pertains to leisure travel. As mentioned above, people are ready to get out and have been dreaming about their next big vacation for months. Half of US adults (50%) are likely to take at least one vacation this summer (June – September 2021). 43% say they’ll spend more than $1000 and 20% say they’ll spend more than $2000.
There will be many options for them to consider. Your unique F&B outlets, especially those outdoors, can be the reason they choose to visit your hotel.
How to Optimize your Outdoor F&B Outlets
It’s important to have a plan in place to make the most of your outdoor F&B outlets. Simply having them on property will not be enough to take full advantage of the opportunities to drive visits, increase revenue per guest and even engage with your locals. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you plan your F&B strategy.
ONE: Develop a plan to maximize covers
To make sure you’re getting the most out of each outlet, it’s important to invest in the tools and technology that will help you maximize your covers (especially if you are still following spacing guidelines between tables). Specifically, you’ll need a reservation and waitlist management tool that gives you complete control over inventory management. If you offer or require reservations, you can ensure your parties are properly spaced out, collect valuable information on guests before they arrive, and even offer upgrades during the reservation process that will allow you to capture revenue before guests even walk through the door.
SevenRooms client The Sahara Casino and Hotel in Vegas manages their outdoor pools and rooftops by requiring reservations. During the reservation process, they provide important information to guests such as the food and beverage minimum for their full-day cabanas. This makes it easy for the hotel to collect revenue ahead of a guest’s visit, plus it communicates any and all expectations to guests clearly so there are no surprises upon arrival.
If you are not a reservation-taking establishment, a waitlist solution is a great way to help manage crowds. There are many tools that integrate right into your table management software and even allow people to join from their phones without ever having to come in contact with the host stand. Plus, some waitlist technology provides customizable two-way SMS capabilities, so the host stand can communicate with guests quickly and you can keep crowds from lingering outside the F&B outlet. Managing your capacity will become even more important with the summer months approaching and people looking to travel for holidays like Memorial Day and 4th of July.
**PRO TIP** Want more information on implementing waitlist technology? Check out our blog: Improving Your Restaurant Waitlist Management with a Virtual Waitlist.
In addition to reservation and waitlist management, consider investing in front-of-house technology that helps you efficiently seat and turn tables. Select a solution with auto-assign algorithms built to help maximize covers based on the preferences you set for managing your dining rooms.
TWO: Streamline your guest experience through online ordering & contactless payment
Today, it’s more important than ever to have technology to not only enhance the guest experience but also provide hospitality with the health and safety of guests and staff in mind. With outdoor F&B outlets, you can streamline operations by offering online ordering and contactless payments. Guests can arrive at their table, pool chair or cabana, scan a QR code on their phones and quickly access an online ordering menu without ever touching a paper menu or speaking with a server. Once an order is placed, they can process their payment immediately or at the end of their drinking or eating experience.
Gone are the days of presenting the check holder and scanning credit cards. Think about the time your servers will save not having to touch the table as frequently or process payments. Especially on those days where you might be hosting an event and need to serve as many guests as possible.
THREE: Engage with your locals
With travel increasing, your hotel and outlets will start to look a lot more full, but as you wait for demand to be at peak heights or if you’ve got slower days during the weekdays, your local guests are a perfect audience to turn to. Consider a weekday locals special at your outdoor venues and promote it through your channels and any local publications and sites. If you’ve been tracking your guest data, you might even have access to a list of emails of guests that you know are locals.
Already at full capacity at your outlets? Great! But that does not mean you can’t still drive revenue from locals. If you have an online ordering solution in play, you can still drive takeout orders from locals inviting them to pick up the food they love from your restaurants.
Want more tips for engaging with locals at your F&B Outlets? Check out our guide – Hotel F&B: Local Marketing – Unleash the Revenue Potential of Locals.
FOUR: Promote unique offerings and menus across channels
Now is the time to get creative! From special offers to new menus, give guests a reason to visit your outdoor F&B outlets. Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Offer live music or a DJ
- Host big events like pool parties around the summer’s biggest holidays (think Memorial Day, 4th of July of Labor Day)
- Create themed or seasonal summer holiday menus
- Invite a celebrity chef to join your kitchen for a period of time
- Offer family-friendly dining options and menus
- Just an outdoor bar? Consider adding a light bites menu to also offer food options
- Create a photo-worthy atmosphere to appeal to those looking for the next best Instagram photo (and make sure you post the setup on social media to spread the word)
- Tie your outdoor F&B offerings to room night packages to give an extra reason to visit while guaranteeing they spend a lot of time on property
And the list goes on and on! For ideas on how to make your F&B outlets (not just outdoor) stand out, check out our guide, Harnessing the Power of the F&B Experience.
FIVE: Use guest data to drive repeat visitors
Having a robust CRM of guest data is crucial in shaping experiences across your hotel property, but it is especially important when trying to drive visits to your outdoor F&B outlets.
When you have access to and ownership of your guest data, you can look back at guests who have dined outside in the past to encourage them to come back for another visit. Emailing your past visitors to remind them of your great outdoor spaces that have been reimagined as COVID-friendly experiences might be just what they needed to know before booking their next trip. If you plan to offer anything unique at your outlets (like events, menus, etc.), that is great content to share in any emails going out to past visitors to further entice them for a visit.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to those guests already booked at your property. Whether they have dining plans or not, if you share details about your outdoor dining experiences, you might be able to drive business from people who perhaps don’t feel comfortable visiting an indoor dining option or simply did not know what was available.
Lastly, if your brand has multiple properties, your guest data is a goldmine for finding guests to visit a sister property. There are marketing tools available that connect directly with your F&B CRM across locations to trigger emails after a guest’s stay at one property to let them know your same hospitality and F&B experience is available at another property.
We’ve shared many ways to approach your strategy to make the most of your outdoor F&B outlets as we enter a renaissance for the travel and dining industries. Consider what will be best for your property and your target audience but keep in mind that technology can be the support you need to streamline operations, connect important guest touchpoints across your property, and drive repeat visitors. For more information on how SevenRooms’ hotel restaurant software is helping global hospitality leaders provide exceptional guest experiences, schedule a demo today.