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Restaurant management for hotels: A complete guide

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 21/05/2024

What is restaurant management in hotels?

Hotel restaurant management involves overseeing the multiple food and beverage operations within a hotel, which can be an integral component to the overarching hotel experience.

Successful hotel restaurant management requires the ability to oversee many operations at once. It is a complex role involving day-to-day administration, staff management, general operations, accounting and budgeting, fielding customer complaints and enquiries, menu engineering, and ensuring health and safety compliance. All of these need to be tackled whilst optimising business performance.

Hospitality and restaurant management within a hotel setting is about continuously evaluating performance amongst any facet of the business. Growth and development need to be at the forefront of any decision making, as this will help to enhance both hotel and external guests’ experiences.

Hotel and restaurant management work hand in hand. It can take time to adapt to the ways of working, so hiring staff that have a variety of skills, as well as specialists in hotel restaurant management, can benefit any business.

While there’s definitely some risks involved in such an enterprise, there’s also the opportunity for rich rewards at your hotel. This article will take you through the most essential factors to consider for successful hotel restaurant management.

Table of contents

Hotel restaurant management vs standalone restaurant management

The key difference between hotel restaurants and standalone restaurants is the situation in which the management and their team are working.

The ability to serve guests that are seated onsite, as well as serving diners from multiple points, such as the dining room, lobby or resort pool deck is essential.

Both require the same level of attention, though hotel guests seek an extra level of convenience. Charging to their room, ordering room service or enjoying their breakfast within a hotel restaurant can all contribute to the enjoyment of their stay.

In some instances, such as all-inclusive resorts, these hotel restaurants have limited use to overnight guests only.

Managing a hotel restaurant can be a complex operation, as it might mean several restaurants in a property are functioning under one system. Hotels will need to ensure restaurant operations and service is seamless across multiple areas and locations.

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Managing a hotel restaurant

A hotel restaurant can bring great value to a hotel business. Hotel restaurant operations are critical to the overall hotel experience for guests, with some hotel restaurants gaining recognition worldwide for their gourmet indulgences.

Running a hotel restaurant will require a team who are capable of working in a fast paced environment. The ability to serve customers beyond the dining room is an important factor, as guests require convenience, and often the comfort of their hotel room.

These onsite eating establishments have become a pivotal part of a guests’ experience and running a hotel restaurant plays into the overall setting of the stay.

Restaurant management training

Creating a structured training program for restaurant managers is a smart move with some fantastic perks. First off, it brings consistency to the table – think of it as a recipe book for success. When all your managers go through the same training, they’ll serve up a consistent experience that meets your restaurant’s hospitality standards. It sets the bar high for the quality you expect from your leaders.

But that’s not all. A solid training program can also help you tackle a notorious problem in the industry: high staff turnover. Restaurants can lose a huge amount of staff over the course of the year, costing thousands of dollars to rehire each time. Ouch! By giving your managers the tools they need to excel, you’ll boost their success, keep them engaged, and make them want to stick around in your restaurant (and help retain frontline hotel restaurant staff too).

Restaurant operations: Management of  hotel restaurant areas

Not only does a successful hotel restaurant have to serve and please guests at your property, it also has to stand out on its own as a dining option for anyone in the local area. This is because many guests will want to explore the city and all the options available to them.

Keeping on top of the latest food and beverage trends across the hotel industry can help your hotel restaurant management team succeed. Whether it’s increasing outdoor dining options or providing sustainable options, find out what it is that guests are looking for.

The quality of your product has to be high, and your hotel restaurant has to individualise itself and offer a comprehensive dining experience. Things to consider include:

Restaurant size and space

Consider the number of potential restaurant visitors to the capacity of hotel guests. You will need to ensure a comfortable layout for guests and enough space within the restaurant to seat guests on time without long waits. 

Generally, a restaurant should be divided with around 60% covering the dining area and the remaining 40% covering the kitchen, cooking, prep and storage area.

Staffing

Successful hotel restaurant management relies on the ability to adapt and meet challenges within a range of roles and responsibilities. Hiring talented hospitality staff and providing quality training to new starters will help with the running of your establishment. 

Keep in mind that your restaurant will have the complexities of a regular restaurant, plus more. You’ll need qualified staff that have worked in hospitality prior, specifically in the hotel industry.

Menus

Work with your kitchen team to curate a fine-tuned menu. Consider what cuisine and menu would complement the overall ambience of the hotel. For example, a rural hotel located in the British countryside would benefit from an afternoon tea menu and dinner menu featuring local produce. 

Whilst a hotel situated in a metropolitan city might better suit a more international and experimental menu. Whatever menu you decide on, simplicity is key. Design a menu that is exciting and uncomplicated yet delivered exceptionally.

Room service extension

Many guests indulge in room service. This is what really separates a hotel restaurant from a standalone. Offer a limited menu and opt for “delivery-friendly” dishes that will help both your team operations and maintain satisfaction for your guests. 

Offering room service within specific hours can help with the operations of a hotel restaurant. Ensure you have a sufficient number of carts and trays and ensure staff frequent the hallways for any used trays.

Offers and packages

This is where hotel and restaurant management need to work seamlessly together. Liaise with the hotel management to agree upon unique offers and packages for your guests. As an example this could include complimentary breakfast or a discounted rate on dinner if you book two nights or more. 

This is part of strategy planning and marketing, and needs to be considered to help boost bookings and encourage guests to dine at your establishment.

Bookings

Creating a reservation system is the best way to ensure guests can dine at your restaurant seamlessly. Not only will it help your management team to plan better and for operations to run smoothly, but creates confidence with your guests that they will be seated at a specific time. 

Speak with hotel management about the front desk team asking guests at check in whether they want a restaurant reservation. This will remind guests to book and will encourage dining at the hotel restaurant.

Image explaining hotel restaurant management

Who are your hotel restaurant guests?

Generally, a hotel restaurant will have two types of customers: hotel guests and external guests. Whilst they’re very similar and both wish to have a pleasant meal with great customer service, they both have different needs. To keep everyone happy, you’ll need to think about offering a simple but delicious menu that can be eaten in a comfortable setting and also promotes social interaction.

Hotel guests

For guests already staying at your hotel, your restaurant should be a quick and convenient place to get a meal. They may not want to spend too much money nor spend too much time waiting for food, especially if they have other plans. Since hotel guests are staying overnight, they are more likely to experience many more touchpoints with the restaurants and bars onsite. Room service, charging meals to their room and having a seamless experience across the hotel and restaurant alike.

External guests

Unless you are an all-inclusive resort, a hotel restaurant can expect to receive many external guests. Hotel restaurants make a great setting for business meetings, and can gain their own popularity separate from the hotel. Generally, outside diners only experiencing the restaurant may be expecting first-class ambience, food, and service.

Restaurant table management

Mastering table management in your hotel restaurant is the key to running a profitable establishment with a dedicated fan base. Here are five essential tips to ensure that restaurant management works for you, taking into account the unique aspects of hotel dining:

  1. Harness the power of data: If available, use table management software to gather valuable data about your restaurant’s operation. Share this insight with your team to highlight areas where improvements are needed, such as reducing wait times between courses or accommodating walk-in guests efficiently. The more your team understands, the more effective they become, catering to the diverse preferences of hotel guests.
  2. Calculate your table turnover rate: Determine how long guests occupy tables, a crucial metric for effective table management, especially in a hotel setting with diverse clientele. Use this simple formula: 

Table Turnover Rate = Number of Seatings ÷ Number of Tables. 

This calculation will guide your table management strategies and improve overall efficiency.

  1. Evenly distribute covers: Prevent overwhelming your front-of-house staff by implementing a seating plan that evenly distributes guests across the restaurant. This systematic approach not only makes management easier but also caters to the variety of dining outlets within the hotel, creating a vibrant atmosphere, even during quieter times.
  2. Adapt table sizes to demand: Leverage historical data from your table management system to accurately anticipate demand. Adjust your table layout and sizes based on past trends. For instance, if you typically welcome more families during the summer – very common for hotels – optimise your tables accordingly. Similarly, if you’re expecting an uptick in attention due to a local event, prepare accordingly.
  3. Seek customer feedback: While data is valuable, guest feedback completes the picture. Regularly conduct satisfaction surveys and encourage your waiting staff to gather feedback from guests they serve, addressing the high service expectations of hotel guests. This proactive approach ensures that your table management aligns with your customers’ expectations and preferences, whether they’re hotel guests, event attendees, or restaurant patrons.

Some other important aspects unique to hotel restaurant table management are:

  • Room charges. Staff should be able to charge restaurant bills to rooms, if available.
  • Reservation systems. You should be able to integrate your booking engine with your table reservation systems, particularly if dining is part of a room package, to ensure consistency and a smooth experience.
  • Concierge involvement. Concierge staff should be familiar with recommending and booking tables for guests. Effective communication is vital here, so ensure that your internal communication systems are up to the task.
  • Loyalty programmes. If you have a loyalty programme, table management must be integrated into it effectively to ensure that guests receive their allotted points for both booking a room and dining with your hotel.

Restaurant management tips for hotels

Hotels and restaurants both form a large part of the hospitality industry and customer service is vital to both. These businesses survive on positive customer satisfaction because of the public exposure they’re always open to. Guests are only too eager to share stories of their holiday or dining experience – both good and bad. These restaurant management tips will be sure to wow your guests and boost efficiency.

  • Create a relaxing environment
  • Consider family-friendly restaurants
  • Don’t forget to appeal to locals as well as travellers
  • Treat each guest like a VIP
  • Deliver a consistent experience
  • Pay attention to guest feedback
  • Ensure every decision is driven by data

Strategies for a successful hotel restaurant management

Once you have the base of your hotel restaurant established, you need to continue to work on growth and development plans. This includes monitoring and improving internal operations as well as implementing strong marketing strategies. We’re always sharing simple food and beverage lessons for hoteliers whether that is keeping on top of trends or keeping costs low. Let’s dive into some top tips.

1. Give your restaurant its own website

While it should certainly be featured on your hotel website, a dedicated restaurant website can help maximise revenue and potentially drive extra traffic through to your hotel via links. Cross-referencing both lines of business will improve your SEO and help maximise conversions and direct bookings. Be sure to feature large high-resolution images and videos to showcase your food and decor.

2. Create a social media page for your restaurant

If your hotel restaurant has its own website it stands to reason it should have its own Instagram or Facebook page too; this is especially true if it hosts regular events. You can inform followers of live music nights, wine tasting activities, or happy hours, as well as post pictures of these experiences.

3. Managing and marketing your hotel’s food waste control

Do you really know how much food your hotel throws away each week? Have you worked out its monetary value? Are staff and guests aware of your efforts to be more sustainable and properly manage food waste disposal? Once you’re aware how well you’re managing in this area, you’ll be better informed and can start to align operations with your marketing.

Guests are also becoming increasingly savvy with sustainability and expect hotels to be actively reducing waste across their operations. This is a great opportunity to not only optimise your food operations but add a new angle to introduce into your marketing strategy. Studies have shown that for every $1 invested in programs to reduce kitchen food waste, hotels have saved $7 on average in operation costs. So, this not only appeals to conscious diners but improves your financial planning in the long run. There are plenty of ways to reduce food waste from enhanced menu planning to donating food surplus.

4. Replicate from top hotels

By studying and learning from the successes and innovations of renowned hotels, you can gain insights into exceptional guest experiences, creative menu offerings, and effective operational practices. Remember, good hotels borrow ideas – great hotels steal them. While you must always leverage your own unique identity as a hotel, there’s nothing wrong with using the same strategies as another hotel that you admire.

Moreover,  some of the world’s best hotel restaurants all see similar patterns. Customers remember the unique food options as well as how they are treated. It’s these things that stay with customers and encourage them to leave glowing reviews.

5. Align restaurant operations and marketing

Don’t fall into the trap of silo-ing marketing, especially when it comes to food & beverage. Marketing, for best results, must be intimately integrated into every aspect of your hotel operations, whether that’s using guest testimonials on social media to drum up more bookings, adjusting and optimising the website to ensure the best optimisation for search or, in the case of your hotel restaurant, leveraging the quality, reputation, availability, and uniqueness of your dining options to help secure more interest. 

Ensure that the hotel management team works with the marketing team hand-in-hand to develop powerful marketing strategies – or, if you prefer, make sure to always set a place for marketing!

Best hotels with modern restaurant management

They say food brings people together and research from Oxford University recently confirmed that communal eating “…increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing, and enhances one’s sense of contentment and embedding within the community”.

Combine this with the relaxed and happy feelings your guests have when they stay at your hotel and it’s feel-good vibes all round.

Here are five outstanding examples of hotel restaurants that have done exactly that – let’s look at what makes them unique and why guests who flock there love them so much…

Dinner by Heston at Crown Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia

Number of reviews on TripAdvisor
1,041

Unique Feature
What’s special about this place?
Famed for his experimental culinary magic, Heston Blumenthal’s only restaurant outside the UK resides in food-obsessed Melbourne, Australia at the Crown Melbourne. It’s booked out months in advance with Heston’s name attracting big crowds to, not only the restaurant, but the hotel too. The restaurant showcases 700 years of British cuisine and each dish on the menu is listed with a date highlighting the recipe’s time period origin. Of course there’s an Australian twist on the menu with lamington cake making an appearance.

Guest Reviews
Why do guests love it?
“My wife had booked months in advance for a birthday celebration and once inside we were taken back by the great setup and the genuine welcoming vibe from the staff. The restaurant sets a designated period for guests to bathe in the experience. Towards the end of our time we were only part way through our meal – we were allowed to linger for an extra 30 minutes to savour the meal and the great surroundings. Others have commented on the food and the wine and we fully support these comments and for the experience alone we felt that a bill of more than $500 for the two of us was reasonable.”

The Club Del Doge Restaurant at The Gritti Palace
Venice, Italy

Number of reviews on TripAdvisor
459

Unique Feature
What’s special about this place?
Guests can enjoy the surroundings of the Grand Canal here and The Club Del Doge Restaurant at The Gritti Palace takes al fresco dining to another level. People watching is the order of the day with gondolas frequently passing by. Dating back to 1475, the waiters echo the property’s former formal glory wearing tuxedos and serving Italy’s most premium produce on silver platters. The outdoor terrace is open from April to October and guests can enjoy the signature truffle risotto in this popular yet intimate setting.

Guest Reviews
Why do guests love it?
“I decided not to spend $1,300 for a room here (though if I were very rich I think I would do so happily, since this place is more than a hotel, it is the culmination of several strands of human culture). Instead, I did something I did NOT do when I did stay here years ago: I ate in the dining room. And though it certainly counted as an extravagance, I still smile thinking about it three months later. The most rich and ripe of Bellinis served in the golden glow of lighting that Vittorio Storaro might have designed. Deeply flavourful dishes that engage the latest food tendencies while never falling prey to the decadent theatricality that seems to attract Michelin stars in our degraded era. In short: I loved everything about it. And the decor? Only in Venice can such opulence be achieved without crossing the line. Come here if you want to experience life as art.”

Burger Joint at The Le Parker Meridien New York
New York, US

Number of reviews on TripAdvisor
4,847

Unique Feature
What’s special about this place?
Hotel restaurants and fine dining typically go hand-in-hand, but bucking this trend is the aptly named Burger Joint at The Le Parker Meridien in New York. Only a neon sign indicates the restaurant is there and finding the entrance can be tricky for those not in the know. Literally located in a ground floor back corridor of the hotel, diners queue around the block for the burgers and fries here. It’s fast food at its finest and proof that you don’t need big name Michelin-starred chefs to draw huge crowds to your hotel dining.

Guest Reviews
Why do guests love it?
“Finding this hamburger restaurant in the heart of Manhattan (56 W and 6th Ave) is an adventure. It’s hard to understand that one should enter that formal building, sneak behind a heavy curtain to meet Burger Joint. You have to have patience, especially in the peak hour of noon. The burgers and fries are memorable.”

The Black Swan at Oldstead
Oldstead, England

Number of reviews on TripAdvisor
1,304

Unique Feature
What’s special about this place?
Described by critics as “…an extraordinary place, a true one-off”, The Black Swan at Oldstead is both a Michelin-starred and four AA Rosette restaurant with a five-star hotel thrown in for good measure. Produce is grown and foraged on site allowing the innovative team of chefs to create truly seasonal dishes. Last year, the restaurant was named number one in the world by TripAdvisor having never made the list before. TripAdvisor describes the restaurant, headed up by Tommy Banks (the UK’s youngest Michelin-starred chef), as “…a tantalising trip for the taste buds. This restaurant is truly a box of delights. The flavours, combinations of ingredients and skill in putting together the menu are joyous”.

Guest Reviews
Why do guests love it?
“I got treated to a meal at the Black Swan for my birthday, we had the tasting menu with wine pairing and also stayed the night in one of their rooms. What can I say? The food was simply exceptional, and the wine pairing really set it off. The room we stayed in was delightful and had a real country cottage feel. The staff were all fantastic, and we were served a course by Tommy Banks himself! We had an amazing breakfast the following morning, then had an impromptu private tour of the farm gardens. We were even given some strawberry and tomatillo seeds to plant for ourselves! Such an incredible experience, I can’t wait to do it again someday.”

L’Auberge de l’Ill
Illhaeusern, France

Number of reviews on TripAdvisor
1,532

Unique Feature
What’s special about this place?
Serving opulent dishes – some that haven’t changed in 40 years – L’Auberge de I’lll is a French institution located on the banks of the river Ill in the village of Illhaeusern. Founded more than 150 years ago, the restaurant is family owned and they are famed for working the land, cooking with art and serving with heart. On the menu, the stars of the show are both the salmon soufflé and the whole black Perigod truffle coated in foie gras wrapped in pastry then deep fried. Legend has it that diners order the truffle to start and the truffle to follow – yours for a mere €125.

Guest Reviews
Why do guests love it?
“In 1985, my wife and I dined here and vowed that we would return: the meal was that good. This year we were planning to be in Alsace again and made a reservation. Our dinner — we had the seven-course menu degustation — was excellent in every way, and we matched it with the same wines we had in 1985, though not the same vintages; a half bottle of Schlumberger Riesling and a half bottle of Morey St Denis. Cheap is something else, but the restaurant is so agreeable, the staff so professional, and the food so good that you simply accept this is a rare and costly experience and pay. We don’t know whether we’ll get here for a third meal, but the first two are unforgettable.”

Restaurant management solutions and technology

A reservation system is essential to the smooth running of any food and hotel management process. It will allow you to keep things streamlined and ensure guests are seated in a timely manner. Don’t forget the importance of a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM System). By having this technology in place, you’ll be able to connect hotel restaurant reservations to hotel guest bookings to deliver even better customer service. The same applies to external guests. You will be able to note customers’ regular orders and remember fine details that allows your hotel restaurant to leave a positive and memorable experience.

Hospitality is about making an impression on someone and going the extra mile to make their experience a memorable one. The interaction involved in hospitality is a genuine one and should be based on a caring attitude.

Hospitality and restaurant management is something the best restaurants do extremely well. Customers will generally be served by one waiter their entire visit and will be made to feel like close friends or family, constantly attended to and conversed with warmly. Any requests will be responded to immediately. By the end of the meal, customers will look forward to coming back and seeing their waiter again.

If hotel restaurants can replicate this attentiveness, you will have a great selling point that you can introduce into your hotel’s marketing strategies. Some things to try are to greet guests by name, get to know their interests, and don’t delay when they want attention. It’s the little things that matter, so ensure you’ve utilised these top tips in your hotel restaurant operations and begin to see your bookings flourish.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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