June 18, 2014 • By Adrienne Andreae
They post on Instagram. They Yelp! They blog. They Pinterest. They freely promote restaurants online. Who are they? They are foodies, those elusive self-proclaimed food lovers who play social media like it’s a sport. Get them in your doors and you’re sure to see your hotel’s name all over social media. It could be simple to do--if only your budget would allow you to hire a James Beard winner or even a nominee. If only you could focus your restaurant menu on winning over the foodies, instead of trying to feed the everyday hotel guest.
Your guests want comfort and reliability while the foodies want an experience.Unlike most restaurants, hotel restaurants have the unique task of being in business to support another business—the hotel. People don’t wander out of their room and go to a stand alone restaurant like it’s part of their home. But they do in your hotel. Your guests want comfort and reliability while the foodies want an experience. Satisfying both crowds feels impossible. But you can win over both crowds without hiring the latest Food Network star.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Keep it simple: The days of the 12-page menu are over. Educated diners are skeptical about the quality of so many food items kept in your kitchen. Scale down your menu to some favorites. (You’ll also improve your food cost, make training new staff simpler, and speed up service.)
- Pick a specialty: What’s your unique value proposition? Be known for something. You can still have a menu that dabbles in enough items to satisfy most guests, but choose one area to excel. Achieving this can be as simple as changing your menu copy to focus on your “World Famous Burgers”, training your staff to consistently recommend your specialty and adding a web page answering the question, “What makes our burgers so special?”
- Channel your inner child: Foodies and non-foodies alike love adult versions of kids’ meals. They’re fun. They’re easy to share on social media. (And if done right, they have high profit margins.) However, you want to make sure you are not simply enlarging your kids portions. Adults need more flavor. Consider a dress-your-own hot dog section or offering three types of mac and cheese.
- Hold an online photo contest: Once you know exactly what items you want to promote, you’ll need your first few nibbles. Hold a month long online photo contest for locals. Focus the contest on your specialty items. Then, invite diners to post pictures of the specialty on social media. Get it started by posting your own tasty pictures of your food. Offer levels of prizes from a drink at the bar to a dinner for two.