Hotels have long viewed room reservations as the sacred revenue-driver for their business, relegating their F&B outlets as a secondary priority.
But if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that hotels need to find creative ways to deepen guest relationships and incorporate local offerings to drive their bottom lines. With travel and dine-in back on the rise, and almost every sector of the restaurant industry roaring back – now is the time to position your F&B outlets to increase local market share and revenue.
In this article, we’ll review ten strategies designed to help your F&B program drive revenue and guest retention.
1. Focus on driving direct bookings
Long ago, hotels realized the cost advantage of direct room bookings over third-party solutions. In fact for Hilton, direct bookings account for nearly one third of all bookings made at their properties. But many hotel F&B outlets are still using these third-party platforms to drive reservations.
Direct bookings for F&B saves money on third party fees and give you the most valuable tool for optimizing your program: guest data. Offering direct reservation options (think: Reserve Now buttons) through your owned channels like your website, Google My Business listings, and Instagram, allows you to integrate hotel and F&B guest data into a complete, 360° view (e.g. John books a room 3x per quarter and eats at the restaurant every time he stays). This ensures a seamless guest experience and improves operational efficiency.
2. Treat every guest like a VIP
The art of hospitality is making every guest feel like a VIP. One way to deliver that memorable guest experience is to create special moments unique only to them. Using reservation data or intel from the front desk staff, you can incorporate important visit and preference details in-service.
“Wow” the couple celebrating their anniversary with a congratulations from the host, a comped round of champagne, or a special dessert. A business traveler may appreciate a quiet seat where they can work and eat, or have their favorite drink waiting for them after a long day.
3. Give guests a taste of home
Making guests feel at home is another great way to build a long-lasting relationship. Perhaps you know from a sister hotel that a particular guest of theirs is gluten-free. Having a gluten-free menu at the ready, an acknowledgement from the server that they know your guest has a gluten allergy, and a gluten-free mini-bar setup can go a long way.
4. Level up your email marketing with automation
Email marketing has long been an underused resource for restaurant marketing. Luckily there is a new way hotel F&B operators can deliver personalized experiences and campaigns at scale: marketing automation. Here are a few email campaigns sure to deliver increased revenue:
Cross-promote your F&B outlets when guests book a room
Send guests a F&B credit to use at their hometown hotel when they stay with you
Launch a “we miss you” campaign to locals who haven’t dined with you in two months
Send guests who booked reservations through a third-party a discount for their next visit if they book direct.
5. Optimize your channel mix
Guest F&B data reveals where your marketing dollars are best spent. One way is to combat shoulder times by optimizing reservation availability on third-party marketplaces. For example, you could open more inventory for direct bookings on Friday and Saturday nights and decrease your third-party reservation availability. That way you’re still filling your dining rooms but saving money on third-party fees. Conversely, on slower nights, you might open more availability on third-party apps to leverage traffic from the marketplace.
You can also use guest data to prioritize advertising spend on Google, Facebook and Instagram to find out which channels your most valuable guests come from.
6. Maximize every seat
Dive into your guest data to determine optimal turn times, cover volumes, pacing, and more. Converting your tables from 4-tops to 2-tops on a Saturday night or changing your reservation slots to be shorter can help maximize inventory. Adjustments like these help you consistently service more covers per day. For more on how to make more money from the same seats, check out our Guide To Revenue Management.
7. Creatively market and expand your F&B experiences
Consider providing seasonal or exclusive guest-only services at your hotels. You can target guests with personalized offers based on their past purchases and travel history. Hotels can also host special F&B events like members-only tequila tastings or a guest chef dining experience to further diversify service offerings.
8. Pay attention to guest feedback
Though that personal touch is crucial to building relationships, sometimes managers aren’t able to visit every table. Post-visit feedback surveys and online review aggregation tools help managers keep an eye on guest sentiment and uncover trends. They can even provide daily digests and link feedback to guest profiles so your teams can identify happy return customers when they walk in or try to satisfy a negative reviewer.
9. Leverage upsells and add-on experiences
Upsells and add-ons make a guest’s experience even more memorable, and serve as opportunities to generate incremental revenue. Consider introducing upsells, add-ons and experiences to the booking process, like offering a wine pairing for each course of a prix-fixe menu, or selling tickets to a New Year’s bash.
10. Create a strong local contingency
A strong F&B presence with locals can help protect your bottom line from any slowdown in travel demand. In fact, increasing your F&B retention rate (a.k.a. increasing the percentage of locals in your book) by 5% can increase your profits in that area by 25% to 95%. A few ways to engage your locals are:
Create seasonal, locally-sourced menus, work with a renowned local chef, host special holiday events, or partner with other local businesses
Leverage local channels like micro influencers and local PR & SEO (search engine optimization)
Focus on turning locals into regulars when they travel with friends & family discounts, promotions like “Dine 3x to receive a free room night”, birthday emails, locals only perks, staycation promotions, and geo specific emails
Global hospitality giant Jumeirah Group operates 25 luxury properties across the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Their F&B strategy is tech-enabled, and allows them to create a robust program utilizing many of the strategies we’ve covered above. Some standout features of their F&B program include:
Linked guest profiles across F&B outlets – at their properties and across their portfolio. Whether you’re at a pool cabana, the rooftop bar, or dining at a restaurant on property, loyal guests receive preferential tables or upgraded services.
Personalized in-room amenities based on prior purchases – for example, welcoming guests with an in-room bottle of wine that they loved from a past visit to a Jumeirah Group F&B outlet
Hotel & F&B integration- recognizing and acknowledging guests when they arrive at the restaurant during their stay
Guest data – tagging guest profiles with important information like participation in the hotel loyalty program
“At Jumeirah Group, knowing our customers and providing them with memorable experiences is at the core of our business.Every decision we make supports delivering that objecting and technology gives us the ability to provide our customers personalized service” – Alejando Helbling – VP of Group Services, Jumeirah Group
An integrated, tech-enabled, and intentional F&B program can be the secret weapon for hotel brands looking to increase their revenue and guest retention across their portfolio. Learn about how SevenRooms can help enable these strategies by requesting a demo today.