A month on from the Referendum and the UK hospitality industry seems to be in a state of uncertainty. We’ve seen some operators express fears about falling consumer confidence, others report no adverse impact on trade, while most seem to be keeping their heads down, reserving judgement for now and trying to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach.
If anyone is looking for silver linings in the cloud of Brexit insecurity, accommodation is surely the big one for the hospitality sector? Hotels, pubs with rooms and B&Bs are all in a good place to benefit from the impact of a weaker pound, which is making holidays abroad less affordable for Brits, while at the same time increasing the UK’s appeal to visitors from overseas.
The numbers from recent press reports are impressive: a further 5% of Britons, or 2.5 million people, are likely to choose a ‘staycation’ this year, while VisitBritain is predicting 36.7 million tourists to UK in 2016, spending up to £23 billion – both increases of c. 4% on 2015.
So, if you’re running a hotel or pub with accommodation, now is the time to be making sure your offer to customers is as good as it can be, and promoting it effectively to reach your target audience. Is your hotel included on the right listings websites? Is your local tourism office aware of what you offer, so that they can recommend you to visitors to the area? And with nearly all room bookings now made online, does your own website truly reflect the quality of your accommodation, and make it easy for people to reserve a room? Getting these basics right will pay rewards as more potential customers are directed towards a stay at your establishment.
Of course, there’s more to running a successful accommodation-based business than offering a bed for the night. Food & drink plays a key part in consumers’ choice of where to stay, and guests staying overnight or longer are a captive market if the menu offer is appealing: a relaxed evening meal or hearty breakfast in the same place as they’re sleeping is far more convenient and relaxed than going out. Persuade your lodging customers of the quality of your food and you’ll find they’re generally loyal for the duration of their stay, bringing in valuable food and drink revenue.
At Lynx Purchasing, we work with hundreds of pubs, restaurants and hotels, from single-site operators to small groups, right up to some of the country’s most prestigious hotels. We help them all to save money not just on their food and drink, but on many other items needed when you’re running an accommodation business, from in-room teas and coffees to bed linen, mini-toiletries and light fittings, to name a few. Whatever you need for your pub or hotel rooms, talk to us and we’ll aim to source it at a keener price than you could achieve yourself.
We’ve seen many of our customers develop an accommodation business that not only delivers healthy room revenue, but also adds significantly to their food and drink income. Every pub or hotel is different, but what they all do successfully is look at their business critically from the viewpoint of their staying guests, and really think hard about what they need. A customer who’s just arrived late at night after a six hour journey in heavy traffic is going to have different needs to a local diner, for example, so how do you tailor your menu and service accordingly?
Here are some of our suggestions of ways to appeal to your overnight guests, based on what we’ve seen succeed at a number of accommodation outlets:
- Breakfast: research shows that breakfast is one of the most important parts of the overnight experience for guests, and it’s often the first meal they eat with you, so make sure you impress. For many customers, the full English is a treat when staying away from home, but don’t forget to offer fruit, cereal and other lighter options too. Work with a specialist catering supplier to showcase local and regional specialities such as sausages, black pudding and eggs.
- Local focus: remember your guests have travelled far, maybe even from abroad, to visit your region, so will be interested in trying local food and drink. Again, work with suppliers to feature high quality, locally sourced ingredients on your menu. Also consider hosting special ‘Best of the Region’ style dinners, inviting your suppliers to attend and engage with your guests.
- Drinks on arrival: depending on when your guests are arriving, a welcome drink either in the bar or in their room will always be welcome. Don’t forget to highlight any local beers or ciders you have on the bar, or spirits from the area’s craft distillers. You could also offer home-made nibbles to showcase what your kitchen can do and tempt your guests to book in for dinner.
- Afternoon tea: overnight guests can be tempted to enjoy an afternoon tea, especially if they’re coming back to their room after a day spent walking or cycling to work up an appetite. Keep the offer simple with freshly-made scones and cakes, and add a glass of Prosecco or similar as an option.
- Room service: serving meals to guests in their rooms rather than in your restaurant or bar adds another logistical challenge, but it’s worth offering to win their goodwill and ensure their food spend stays with you rather than the local supermarket. A room service menu of interesting sandwiches, sharing platters or other nibbles, will usually meet the needs of guests who want to eat outside your normal food service hours, for example, or just want a snack in front of the TV.
Whatever you decide to offer your overnight guests, it’s of course important to ensure it delivers a healthy margin. Lynx Purchasing can help you to do this, by not only securing a discount on the food and drink you buy, but also by offering guidance on your purchasing choices. In our post-Brexit environment, imported food and drink has become more expensive, so we can suggest more affordable alternatives to help you achieve your target GP.
Lynx also offers a free GP Calculator App, endorsed by the Craft Guild of Chefs. This helps chefs to monitor margins, particularly specials, using their smartphone or tablet in the kitchen. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play, using the links below:
For Android: Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App on Google Play