Quick Bites: How Hotels Can Make the Switch to Grab-and-Go Menus
It may be hard to believe now, but hotel restaurants were once staples of American social life. Before the rise of chain restaurants and other convenient options, these dineries served some of the best food and drink in town, and they brought in crowds that included both travelers and locals.
In current times, however, consumer preferences have shifted vastly as restaurant options have diversified. Whereas guests once preferred large sit-down meals, they’re now much more likely to snag a snack while on the go. This has left some hotels that still have traditional breakfast-to-dinner food and beverage menus and full waitstaff scrambling to adapt their offerings in a way that maximizes profitability.
So, why is this happening? The change in consumer preference coincides with a time in which the average person is busier than ever. Especially for those with families, there is little time during the day to prepare meals, meaning consumers are increasingly seeking pre-prepared options in their daily lives and while traveling. But they’re not just seeking fast selections—they’re also demanding that the ingredients be fresh, local and organic. That’s why many hotels are already switching their offerings to reflect these demands and offering grab-and-go menus with healthy, portioned meals for guests on the move. In a world where most people value straightforward convenience over endless choice, these innovative food and beverage products are helping satisfy customers and drive positive reviews.
Plus, increased customer satisfaction isn’t the only benefit of the grab-and-go movement. Since grab-and-go menus include mostly pre-packaged food, they may decrease the likelihood of scraps and garbage that can attract roaches or other bothersome pests which are prone to upset customers and drive negative reviews. Additionally, by scrapping the oversized restaurant spaces of yesteryear, hoteliers are able to free up additional space to add amenities and services that increase profitability and provide extra value to guests. Keeping all available food and beverage selections in a smaller area of the building means there’s more room to innovate elsewhere.
How do you know if grab-and-go options are right for your hotel? The decision will ultimately depend on numerous factors, including budget, customer demographics and market location. Here are few general tips for identifying an opportunity:
- If your hotel has a full-service restaurant with consistently declining business during traditional mealtimes, it may be an ideal time to experiment with grab-and-go.
- Unused bars and coffee counters can be easily converted to grab-and-go stations. In addition, they are usually small and affordable to renovate, which makes them ideal for testing the new offerings before making a huge investment.
- A hotel that has already had success selling sundry items is ripe for grab-and-go success, and making the change could be as simple as extending to a small market with refrigerated items.
When adding or altering dining spaces in a hotel, it’s always important to consider pest risks. Pests like cockroaches can be found wherever food is present, and once they’re inside a building, roaches feast on crumbs and food debris, most commonly found on restaurant floors and around kitchens. When it comes to grab-and-go menus, expiration dates should be closely monitored, and spoiled food should be discarded immediately to eliminate a tempting treat for bugs. Most importantly, if hotels do encounter pest problems, it’s critical to contact a licensed pest control professional like Western Pest Services before the issue turns into an infestation, sending unhappy guests straight to online review sites.
While many hotels may be able to take advantage of this growing trend, the decision to implement grab-and-go menus will vary amongst hotels. However, one thing is certain: consumers are no longer asking for a big-box, standardized hotel experience. They want to save time, be healthy and above all, experience something unique when they travel. No matter what choices hotels make regarding food and beverage products, it will be wise to keep an eye toward these evolving consumer preferences and tailor their offerings to meet new demands.