As we know, managing a hotel is an extremely complex, stressful, and time-consuming task. The same can be said of running a successful restaurant.
Combining both might seem like a fool’s errand. And while there’s definitely some risks involved in such an enterprise, there’s also the opportunity for rich rewards at your hotel.
How a hotel restaurant needs to operate
Not only does a successful hotel restaurant have to serve and please your guests at your property, it has to stand 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 the many options available to them.
So if you can’t convince your guests to stay in for a meal, you have to attract other paying patrons. Who knows, some diners might even decide to make it a night and book a room directly through your front desk.
For this to work the quality of your product has to be high. Your hotel restaurant has to individualise itself and offer a comprehensive dining experience. This means in addition to great food, you need to focus on lighting, music, decor and well thought out wine lists.
Things you need to consider include:
How big will your restaurant attraction be relative to your hotel?
How many patrons can you serve and how many extra staff will you need to oversee this?
Will you create a menu that sells and is affordable or one that is cool and trendy? Make sure it’s in line with who you expect to enter your restaurant.
Obviously giving guests deals and discounts when they book a room direct with you will help increase restaurant traffic and revenue for your property.
You should always reserve some tables for your own customers. If a guest walks down to eat and the restaurant is booked out by people not staying at the hotel, the response may be less than favourable.
The pros and cons of having a hotel restaurant
A hotel restaurant can certainly benefit the overall business. When people travel they want two basic needs covered: a nice place to sleep and a nice place to eat. If you can offer both, the chance of getting guests to book with you is much higher. An easy option for meals when guests are busy should prove very popular.
When operating smoothly, a hotel restaurant can also be a very solid revenue driver as it will attract business from both your guests and diners coming in from the local area.
The risks are clear. In many traveller’s eyes, a hotel restaurant is a place where the food will be overpriced and underwhelming. Social atmosphere and a sense of comfort are also often lacking. This is because many hoteliers treat their restaurant as an add-on to the hotel and don’t consider how it affects the larger enterprise.
The main issue is that if your restaurant is receiving poor reviews, it could be turning people off booking a room, no matter how amazing the rest of your hotel is. If it looks like the effort to produce the best possible experience is missing in the restaurant, travellers will assume the same for your whole business and look elsewhere.
The same risk applies on the other side of the coin. If your hotel is derided for a poor experience and your occupancy is low, your restaurant could dwindle and die if it relies solely on business from outside the hotel walls.
Your hotel and restaurant have to work in harmony to keep each other strong.
For the hotel staff, it’s an extremely tough job.
5 tips to make your hotel restaurant a success
1. Strike a balance between class and convenience
For guests already staying at your hotel your restaurant should be a quick and easy place to get a meal. They won’t want to spend too much money, nor spend too much time waiting for food if they have other plans. On the other hand, diners coming for the restaurant alone will be expecting first-class ambience, food, and service.
To keep everyone happy, you need to offer a simple but delicious menu that can be eaten in a comfortable setting that also promotes social interaction.
2. Give your restaurant its own website
While it should certainly be featured on your hotel website, a dedicated restaurant website will help maximise revenue and potentially drive extra traffic through your hotel via links. Cross-referencing both lines of business will improve your SEO and help maximise conversions and direct bookings.
On your restaurant website, feature large high-resolution images and videos to showcase your food and decor.
3. 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 Facebook page too. This is especially true if regular events are hosted. Think live music on Friday nights, monthly wine tasting, or happy hours. It’s also useful for posting pictures of your food and dining experience.
4. Offer deals and discounts
You can use different parts of the week and different mediums to drive customers to your restaurant. Before a guest arrives, email them a drink voucher for the restaurant bar. It’s likely they’ll also grab a meal.
You might use social media midweek to promote cheaper drinks or free desserts with every meal order.
On the weekend, you could offer a three-course deal when a guest makes a booking.
5. Hire talented hospitality staff
Given the unique challenge of running a restaurant, you need staff that are specifically trained to meet it. Give them the power to create the best possible restaurant experience for your hotel’s guests.