Blue Orbit Hospitality Consulting

How Hotel Restaurants Struggle to Compete with Free-Standing Restaurants

Mike Krebs – Project Manager, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting

Restaurants are more than a little ubiquitous in our world, and if you’re a hotel owner, you likely already know the struggle of free-standing restaurants surrounding your property. With so many eateries located within walking distance from your hotel, getting your on-site restaurant to stand out from the crowd might raise a bit of a challenge.

Do you know why hotel guests might eat and drink at nearby competing restaurants rather than your own? Doing a deep-dive into this question is essential if you want your hotel restaurant to become part of your operating income in the coming year.

To have a competitive advantage, look at some of the areas that you can improve. Much of it starts with menu selections, though it also branches out into specific branding.

What is the Quality of Your Restaurant Compared to Chains?

Chain restaurants continue to up their game to attract customers, especially those who are currently struggling due to COVID-19 this year. Some chains you’ve likely competed with already face a shortage of visitors due to indoor dining restrictions.

One thing about them is they always put out massive marketing campaigns and continue to add new items to their menus to stay competitive. And they always add unique branding touches that bring continual layers to their appeal.

Start with looking at your restaurant’s quality level and what kind of menu items you offer. Is it comparable to the restaurants within the vicinity of your hotel?

The branding you’re doing may also not line up to anything appealing or matching the hotel ambiance in general. These are things needing real attention. Take a look at your restaurant’s menu items and evaluate what is selling and what isn’t. Then compare is to today’s latest trends.

How Diverse is Your Restaurant Menu?

Your hotel restaurant probably offers many traditional meals to your hotel guests, along with serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. However, creating a specialty menu can appeal to a broader base.

As business analysts note, creating a specialty menu doesn’t necessarily mean going beyond something you can logically afford to do. It often comes down to how food is prepared compared to the type of dishes you offer. For instance, you might want to try several specialties related to food prep:

  • Organic ingredients sourced from local areas
  • Fresh specialty seafood paired with wine
  • An added unique twist on international food

Being more localized goes a long way toward creating a specialized menu that makes a real buzz with guests. Since hotels are all about playing up local flavors and history, many of your foods could focus on that very aspect. Part of this might involve a particular ethnic menu pertaining to your region’s history.

The key is to study the competition from the free-standing restaurants in your area. How can you change your menu items to match your competitor’s special touch?

Create a More Recognizable Brand

Branding takes more research on what your clients react to and the type of atmosphere you create. Many chain hotels are sometimes bland and stick with uniform colors and basics that provide nothing in the way of local branding.

What elements can you bring to your hotel’s restaurant that makes you stand apart while reflecting the feel of who you are as part of the local community? Perhaps these elements haven’t crossed your mind recently because you place your restaurant second or third as your primary hotel income source.

A hotel’s restaurant leaves as much of a lasting impression as the lodging or on-site activities. One example of this comes from Trip Advisor, where they note how many tourists often get discouraged with any lack of hotel restaurant reviews.

Some others note on Trip Advisor that it’s more pleasant for guests to dine right in the hotel so they can walk back to their rooms rather than drive – it provides a safer way for guests to drink without getting behind the wheel or walking long distances. Besides, a review of your restaurant on a place like Yelp gives tourists a bigger picture of the hotel’s quality.

More Aligned Marketing if You Own the Hotel Restaurant

Not all hotel restaurants are owned by the same hotel owner. If you own yours, aligning your marketing with other aspects of your hotel is more than possible when working with a hotel restaurant consultant.

The tie-ins might be a challenge to implement when considering your in-house audience and those who haven’t visited you before. Social media marketing often helps with the latter to reach new visitors planning to visit your area.

Still, it’s worth looking at the type of service you provide in your hotel and how you can match the kind of service you provide in your restaurant. Can you use similar décor and other decorative touches? Can you name individual dishes after elements in your main hotel areas?

All of this can come together better with an expert team working closely with you to find proper alignment, including working with surrounding restaurants.

The Right Hotel Restaurant Consulting Team

To get the marketing aligned with your restaurant menu properly, you’re better off working with hotel restaurant consultants where experience is everything. They’ll work directly with your team to help you develop a specialty menu that is marketable and capitalizes on untapped demand.

A solution to your restaurant challenges might involve creating a broad menu based strictly on the surrounding restaurants’ styles. That way, you can create your brand while reflecting the same feel and menu items local restaurants offer tourists in the area.

Finding steps like this to improve your restaurant hotel only comes from those who have proven experience on a national or international level. At Blue Orbit, we have the right knowledge and experience, having worked with major hotel chains like InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Marriot, to improve your hotel’s restaurant concept.

Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive hospitality services covering 26 U.S. states and international hotels.