Hotel restaurant : 10 tips to improve your offer and attract outside customers

Do you know how many French people think of reserving a table in a hotel restaurant? Very little! Too little even for the taste of hoteliers who find that their restaurant is running well below capacity. At first glance, it would seem that hotel restaurants have a certain “advance” over other restaurants because they can count on the hotel’s clientele. Analyses show us that a hotel with 63% of its rooms occupied will be able to provide 1/3 of its restaurant’s meals with these same customers, i.e. 30% of its occupancy rate already provided by hotel guests. It’s a good start but 2/3 of the room still needs to be completed. And for this, we have to rely on an outside clientele.

This is where the problem arises: In France, lunch or dinner in a hotel restaurant has not yet become a habit. Most don’t think about it because they don’t separate the restaurant from the hotel.

Here are 10 tips to enhance your hotel’s restaurant to attract outside customers:

1 # Give the restaurant a distinct identity

A restaurant that has the same name as the hotel or, worse, no name at all will always be seen as “part” of it.

So you have two options:

– If your establishment is already well known, there is no need to change the name completely. Adding a dedicated qualifier may suffice. This is the case in New York of the Standard Grill, a restaurant at the Standard Hotel that has managed to take advantage of the hotel’s notoriety to open its doors to other guests.

– Make the restaurant a brand with a new name. Like the barrier group that developed the Fouquet’s brand. Today many people who are not guests of the hotel go to lunch at Fouquet’s.

2 # Change your card regularity

As with all independent restaurants, it is important for hotel restaurants to adapt their menu to the seasonality of the products and to diversify it as much as possible. However, be careful not to lose your culinary identity. Frequent card changes will attract new customers. But loyalty will come through an attachment to a culinary identity.

3 # Plan special dishes: think of everyone

Vegetarians, fexitarians…Food consumption patterns are changing faster and faster. You must therefore adapt and not forget anyone when creating your card. The more a restaurant offers a menu adapted to everyone, the more it enlarges its clientele and therefore its occupancy rate. But in addition to food consumption patterns, we must not forget about allergies to gluten, shellfish, soya… and ban controversial foods such as palm oil for example.  

4 # Propose theme evenings

Theme evenings, tasting evenings, brunches every Sunday… All these special events will both punctuate your restaurant and boost the construction of its identity. The restaurant will no longer be “hotel restaurant…” but “the perfect brunch restaurant.”

5 # Offer local dishes

The trend is: LOCAL. Today we have to eat local.

It’s a win-win bet, to become trendy you become known! The more you offer dishes with local ingredients, the more easily you will be recognized. You can also indicate the origin of your ingredients on your communication media.

But a kitchen would be nothing without its ingredients and especially without its suppliers, so put forward the producers you work with.

6 # Take care of your window and your hook

A lot of guests walk past hotel restaurants without even seeing them. It is therefore important to take care of the front of your establishment.

At the entrance propose a clear menu where prices are displayed and where dishes and specialities are highlighted. To attract the single-pass customer, highlight a catchy message to arouse curiosity and thus interest.

Finally, don’t neglect the classic signage elements that can make all the difference: indicate whether to “pull” or “push” on the front door. Clearly indicate the opening hours, the accessibility for people with reduced mobility and finally inside the restaurant the location of the toilets.

7 # Search for other sales channels

In addition to table service, restaurants can now play on other sales channels. Home delivery or take-away meals are now a promising market for restaurants. They have become very popular in many households and are an excellent way to ensure the continued operation of your business.

8 # Take care of the decoration of the room

Far from being mandatory but highly recommended, you must take maximum care of the interior decoration of your establishment. This must be in perfect harmony with the concept and identity of the restaurant.

9 # Introduce yourself to local businesses

Companies are now major consumers of restaurants. Many people are looking for quality establishments for prestigious business lunches, company celebrations… Do not hesitate to invite the managers to visit your restaurant with a convincing sales argument and think about a long-term partnership.

10 # The leaders’ branding, a real sales force

All restaurants, big and small, are distinguished by their chefs.

If you find that your chef has special skills, or has a very engaging personality, put him or her at the forefront of all your communications. Keep in mind that many of the restaurants that have made their chef a brand name are now among the largest.

His personality, charisma or humour are ways to help you make yourself known. Get him out of the kitchen. A visit to the room, a sharing of tips, a warm word to the customers and that’s it! Believe it works regardless of the size of your establishment.

Follow all of these tips and ensure a regular, more frequent and outside clientele. You will thus be able to balance your income during the low season for your hotel with this full-fledged activity. Because for restaurants there is no season.