Tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014 – Hotel Management

drink trayHotel Management posted their top tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014.  Among their tips:

Focus on millennials. This generation is characterized by high expectations, disposable incomes and a thirst for new trends. “As millennial continue to invest in the experiential value of dining, eye-catching drink presentation as well as innovative and even adventurous ingredients will continue to drive incremental sales particularly in casual and upscale dining concepts in 2014,” Melanie Austin, account executive at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, told Nightclub & Bar.

Simplicity should be left behind. Operators are encouraged to think outside of the box and innovate, as guests are becoming tired of repetition in hospitality and want to see personality in the properties they visit. It’s open season for hotels to start taking chances on how to attract customers.

Social media is also expected to continue to climb in popularity and utility throughout 2014, and there is also expected to be more social media options available to both guests and operators. Hashtags are now a marketing tool, and it is important to learn to use them in cross-promotion.

Ok, this may not exactly be helpful to you if you are running a hotel with a typical lobby bar.  That is where TrueGuest can offer a few more tips. Continue reading

Ask TrueGuest: Tips on Making Menu Recommendations

Dear TrueGuest,Logo_Mark-Five_Diamond_Hospitality

We really need to increase our average check in our restaurant and the bar.  We have been working on making menu recommendations but have not seen any improvement.  What types of items should our employees recommend?

Great question, thank you!  Having restaurant servers and bartenders make menu recommendations is definitely the key to increasing your average check.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure that employees only recommend items that they have personally tried and love.  It sounds like a no brainer, but we have this conversation all of the time.  Server says, “our fish tacos are incredible and a must order”.  We ask, “do they have cilantro on them?”  Server says, “I have no idea”.  I guess they are not her favorite after all!  Make sure you are doing regular menu tastings with your team.
  2. Allow your employees to choose what they recommend, but have some limitations.  Here is where restaurants often run into trouble.  You start telling your servers that they must make recommendations but don’t provide any guidelines.  They tend to do one of two things, over or under recommend.  Half the servers immediately recommend the most of expensive item on your menu.  They think they will increase their sales and their tips.  Unfortunately, most guests do not fall for that and are turned off when you recommend the most expensive item.  The other half of the servers then under recommend.  When asked about entrees, they say something like, “you should get the chicken quesadilla appetizer, it is more than enough for an entree.”  Now, instead of increasing the check, they decreased it.  They took away an appetizer sale and sold the analyst a $9 entree instead of a $22 entree.  Ouch! Continue reading

Chili’s Restaurants Aims to Put a Tablet on Every Table to Make You Spend More

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If you’ve been in a Chili’s restaurant in the last 6 months, you may have noticed an iPad type device on your table…  unless you have been to focused on those sweet baby back ribs!  Chili’s has spent the last six months testing the tablets that allow diners to order beverages and desserts or pay their bill without having to flag down a waiter.  From a great article on Bloomberg:

Things have gone so well at the initial 180 or so restaurants that the company decided to install the devices at most of its 1,266 U.S. restaurants by the first half of 2014.

It turns out, the tablets lead to bigger checks and more revenue for Chili’s.  According to Bloomberg, the tablets cause guests to spend more for the following reasons:

1. Leaving bigger tips by default. Despite being less reliant on waiters, diners end up tipping about 15 percent more on average, according to data from Ziosk. At Chili’s, for instance, the default suggestion on the tablet is set at 20 percent—a generosity-enhancing strategy that has also proven effective in New York City taxis, which are now equipped with back seat monitors. At the table, diners can go lower or higher than the suggested tip before paying—but unless the service was awful, who wants to be a Scrooge?

2. A bigger appetite for appetizers. Ever arrive at a restaurant starving? By eliminating the wait for a menu, tablet can boost impulse orders at the start of the meal—especially when photos of appetizers are streaming across monitors. Ziosk says tablets have increased starters sales by 20 percent at restaurants that offer them, although Chili’s hasn’t put its appetizer menu on the tablets.

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Will Room Service Be Eliminated at Full Service Hotels?

Welcome to the New York Hilton MidtownAn article about the New York Hilton Hotel eliminating room service has been everywhere these last few days.  Originally appearing on Crain’s New York Business site, we’ve seen similar articles everywhere from the Yahoo front page to the New York Times.  From the Crain’s New York Business Article:

The New York Hilton Midtown is the largest hotel in the city, with nearly 2,000 rooms. In August, it will earn another distinction: It will discontinue room service.   The move will eliminate 55 jobs. It could also ignite an industrywide trend. Other hotels, such as the Hudson in New York and the Public in Chicago, are already nibbling at the concept, offering meals delivered in brown paper bags.

The hotel will be adding cafeteria style dining instead.  From the article:

The Hilton property on Sixth Avenue, between West 53rd and West 54th streets, will open a downmarket grab-and-go restaurant this summer called Herb n’ Kitchen, a cafeteria-style eatery that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The plan was announced in October as part of a larger initiative at the hotel chain, which is simplifying its food offerings at Double Tree by Hilton and Embassy Suites as well.   What it didn’t mention then, however, is that Herb n’ Kitchen will replace the room-service operation at the midtown hotel.   “Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room-service requests over the last several years,” said a spokesman in a statement. The Hilton Hawaiian Village was the first Hilton to eliminate room service. In October, it put away the china and linen in favor of takeout.

From the New York Times Article:

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Ask TrueGuest: When Should Employees Introduce Themselves by Name to Guests?

hello-my-name-isDear TrueGuest,

We are striving to become a TrueGuest Hotel but are struggling to get our team to introduce themselves to guests.  In what situations should we require our team to introduce themselves?  

Great question, thanks!  This is one area where hotels often have a difficult time teaching their employees to become comfortable with introductions.  Here are the situations that we like to see employees provide an introduction:

  1. When the guest first arrives at the hotel, the very first employee the guest sees should welcome the guest and introduce themselves.  In most cases, the first employee a guest encounters is the doorman or valet attendant who greets them at the car.  It is very critical for that employee to come over, open the door, and greet the guest with a welcoming smile.  Then it is easy to work an introduction into the conversation.  You can simply say ‘welcome to our resort, my name is John and I will help get you settled into the hotel’.  This introduction is important because John is going to need to obtain the guest’s name to pass along to the GSA.
  2. During any interaction that will last longer than a minute or two or where follow up may be required.  For instance, if you are a Concierge, you should introduce yourself and obtain the guest’s name immediately since you will most likely be working on a task that requires follow up.  Bellman who help upon arrival should always give a good introduction since they will be spending quite a bit of time telling the guest about the hotel amenities on the way to the room.  Restaurant servers and bartenders should also give an introduction during the start of their service. Continue reading

USA Today Predicts the Hotel Bar Trends for 2013

usatodayHere is another great article from Hotel Check-In at USA Today about Hotel Bar Trends for 2013.  Barbara Delollis walks us through all of the crazy hotel bar upgrades.  From drinks created by world famous chefs to Lady Gaga-themed cocktails, our hotel bars are changing.

A few highlights from the article:

Don’t be surprised if you see a drink menu that features ingredients or garnishes such as herbal tea, freshly crushed pineapple juice or unusual seasoned ice. Expect to pay $12 to $18 for a premium cocktail, or perhaps more in big-market cities like New York.

You might even see items made in the kitchen in and around your glass. At Telluride’s Hotel Madeline, guests coming off the slopes and craving something filling can order a decadent Bloody Mary cocktail garnished with two cheeseburger sliders, stuffed olives, pickled okra, pickled green beans, pickled asparagus, celery, pearl onions, lemons, limes, pepperoncini, celery salt, black pepper and two strips of bacon.

Give that a minute to soak in.  I am starting to miss a regular vodka tonic already!  Here are a few of the other bar trends for 2013:

Continue reading

Spike TV’s ‘Bar Rescue’ is Back for a Third Season!

Bar Rescue

One of our favorites, Bar Rescue returns again for a third season starting on Sunday, February 10th, 2013 on Spike TV.

During the first two season, veteran bar expert has helped dozens of struggling bars update their concept, fix their food and drink menus, and put internal controls in place…  all with true reality TV drama.

Here is a little preview of what to expect this season:

 

 

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Ask TrueGuest: How Does Using Table Numbers Improve Internal Controls and How Do I Assign Table Numbers?

Dear TrueGuest,

I read a couple of articles on your site about using table numbers to reduce employee theft.  How does that work?  Also, how do I assign table numbers in my restaurant?

Tables

Great question!  Using table numbers is not only a key tool for guest service, but a great tool for reducing internal theft.  However, judging by the receipts we see in hotel restaurants, very few hotels take advantage of using table numbers in restaurants or seat numbers in bars.  Why does using table numbers help reduce internal theft:

  1. Using table numbers makes it easy for a manager or supervisor to monitor an employee’s open checks.  As a manager, I used to stop in the restaurant often and pop open the floor plan on the point of sale system.  Anytime I would see an open check at a table without anyone sitting at, I knew there was a problem that needed to be investigated.  My policy was always that checks must be closed as soon as payment was made.
  2. Using table numbers and seat numbers makes it hard for servers and bartenders to reuse checks and steal the cash.  We’ve written quite a bit in the past about problems with servers and bartenders reusing checks.  See this article on check splitting and this section in our internal control guide for bars on reusing checks.  If your restaurant and bar have good table and seat number systems, it is more obvious when servers and bartenders reuse checks.  For instance, if a guest at table 22 pays cash for their buffet, the server cannot easily reuse that same check with table 34.
  3. Using table numbers and seat numbers also adds another layer of perceived controls.  It seems simple, but the more controls you have in place, the less employees will test them.  Experienced servers and bartenders know that restaurants who do not have simple controls like table numbers in place probably aren’t doing a very good watching out for internal theft.

Continue reading

5 Steps to Make Your Omelet Station The Most Memorable Part of a Guest Stay

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Let’s face it, hotel breakfast buffets are often the best part of staying at a hotel for many guests.  In fact, lots of research has suggested that the service during breakfast is often the key to a successful overall hotel satisfaction survey score.  Today, we are going to focus on improving buffet service by re-training your Omelet Chef.

Decades ago, someone came up with the idea to add a Chef to the buffet so guests could get eggs and omelets prepared to their liking.  Eggs and omelet creations are typically low cost, very filling, and loved by guests.  Unfortunately, over time, the Omelet Chefs began being replaced by employees who spoke very little English and did little more than just stand there and wait for you to point at the ingredients you would like in your omelet.  For some reason, we all started hiring people who rarely smiled, said very little, and always seemed very bothered to have to make an omelet for a guest.  Nothing makes that 3 minute wait for your omelet more uncomfortable than knowing the person cooking the omelet does not want to be there.  Also, good luck if you need someone other than an omelet.  I can’t tell you how many my request to have a buffet item refilled was just met with a shrug.

Omelet Chefs are in a key position when it comes to guest interaction and they should be held accountable to the same service standards as a Guest Service Agent.  At minimum, a good Omelet Chef does the following: Continue reading

Ask TrueGuest: How to Test Your Bartender’s Free Pouring Count

mixed-drink1Free pouring is our 3rd favorite (ok, least favorite) method for pouring alcohol.  However, we understand that many bars want free pouring in place for ascetic purposes.  A highly skilled bartender can still achieve accurate pours using a free pouring method, just be sure that you are consistently testing your bartender’s pouring count.

In order to test your bartender’s counts, you will need a testing kit.  A couple of the popular brands are the Exacto Pour and the ProCheck.

Check out this video for a demonstration on how the kit works:


Just like everything else these days, there is an app for that!  Check out the Virtual Pour smartphone app from the World Flair Association:

 


Remember, whether you are using a measured pour or a free pour, the key is consistency.  Over-pouring not only leads to high beverage costs, but also increased liability.