by ZOHREEN ISMAIL
Benchmark, a global hospitality company, recently named their top 10 dining trends for 2019. Today’s Hotelier collaborated with Patrick Berwald, vice president, food & beverage at Benchmark Global and put together an in-depth look at some of the trends important to hoteliers.
- Farm to Table 2.0
Many hotels and restaurants are adopting the farm to table trend that is on the minds of many travelers. This trend is taking a new turn in which chefs and farmers collaborate on custom farming ideas.
“What they do is special, chefs are partnering with local farmers to create new menu items. Hotels are getting involved in different ways, such as sponsoring land where farmers grow produce and work directly on planning harvest. Chefs, farmers, and hotel owners are all working together and it is becoming a co-op situation. Owners are supporting farmers in providing land and then buying the finished product,” says Berwald.
This trend has a great effect on the overall guest experience for individuals staying at a hotel that offers farm to table food options.
“These days, people want to know where their food comes from. Diners love the fact that the chef is intimately involved with the farmers. Produce often contains large amounts of pesticides and chemicals, with this method hotels are involved in the farm to table process from beginning to end so they are able to tell that story to their guests,” says Berwald.
Many hoteliers reading this may be nodding along, but what exactly is step one for a hotel owner who wants to implement a farm to table option at their property?
“Step one would be to find resources locally and then work hard to develop relationships. This could be a local farmer or a purveyor that works with farmers. The key idea is knowing what products you want to feature. Work with your local resources to find out how they treat those products from growth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as, how long does it take? Try your best to have complete knowledge on everything from these products so you are able to tell the full story,” says Berwald.
- Philanthropy and food
AAHOA members are known for supporting the community and the less fortunate. With the rise in natural disasters, hoteliers want to use their businesses and resources to help others that are affected by tragedies.
“There are many chefs that give back to the community. Especially, some of the more well-known chefs who are able to use their talents to draw awareness to global issues, such as areas where product resources are limited due to natural disasters. Product availability, on a global scale, is becoming more of a concern due to the population growing exponentially but food resources are continuing to dwindle.”
Hotel owners can make efforts to partner with chefs that share their goals of helping the community and bringing awareness to important issues. One example, on a larger scale, is Chef José Andrés. Andrés was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in Puerto Rico, Haiti, California, and other parts of the world. Through his organization, World Central Kitchen, he has reportedly served more than three million meals to those displaced by natural disasters.
Aside from partnering with chefs who share the interest of serving others, hotel owners should be mindful of where the food they are serving is coming from.
“One example that owners can take into consideration is fishing. Some larger companies fish with enormous nets which causes the marine life population to decline. Whereas other companies and fishers use a controlled line and make an effort to monitor consumption.”, says Berwald.
Hotel owners that serve seafood may have never thought about exactly how the food they are serving is acquired. Being mindful of making that extra effort to educate yourself on where the ingredients you are ordering are coming from is a dining trend that is good for owners, guests, and humanity.
- Outside Eateries
Another trend highlighted in Benchmark’s report studied restaurants and diners. A common trend now is online and mobile food-ordering services. Local eateries are placing more of an emphasis now on the convenience of delivery. The best way for hotel owners to compete in this landscape is to recognize different guests want different experiences. While some may prefer having food delivered to them, others prefer the experience of sitting in a local restaurant and enjoying a meal.
“Hotel owners that want to drive more foot traffic into their hotel restaurants will need to focus their efforts on marketing initiatives. People want to experience a locale and many hotel restaurants offer an experience that is indigenous and gives people a great experience. How do we drive people into our own restaurants versus forming alliances with local places? By offering the same services that other restaurants offer. Expenses and service fees that are usually involved in room service orders may need to be cut in order to remain competitive and include an added level of convenience. In other words, having the freedom of multiple options that are not dug down by service fees.”, says Berwald.
Another option for hotel owners and operators to reduce labor and costs associated with running a full-service restaurant is by partnering with third parties. Lastly, Berwald sheds insights on who exactly these trends are affecting and what type of guest is looking for these things.
“These trends are here to stay. I think more millennials are attracted to adventurous foods. There is a huge influx in international spices and cuisine melded with common well-known dishes and ingredients. Millennials are savvy, willing to take risks, and spend more time dining out than ever before.”