How do budget and mid-market kitchen requirements differ from luxury?
Sreekumar Panicker: In terms of cleaning solutions’ effectiveness and performance there is absolutely no difference in requirements. Both segments require top-quality and effective solutions that offer quick turnaround of frequented spaces, such as lobbies. There is a difference however, in how much budget and mid-market hotels are willing to spend on acquiring products. But often, these hotels do not factor in running costs and consumables, such as cleaning detergent cost, which over time could add up and surpass the cost of a robust machine. For example, our steam cleaners of which SGV is an example, does not require detergents and can be used on multiple surfaces which then reduces the cost of the machine over time.
Simon Parke-Davis: At Rational we believe in ‘maximum customer benefit’ and this customer orientation is regardless of size or class. The same is true for catering and food offerings for customers in the budget, mid-market or luxury sector. Each client or customer needs to be delighted time after time by great food, which is cooked well and with consistency. The requirements across each market sector do not change. This is equally as important with presentation and ingredients; the goal is to maximise quality and to match the price and customers perception of value.
How important are innovations in kitchen products when supplying the budget and mid-market hospitality sector?
Sreekumar: Innovation is important in all segments, but for the budget and mid-market hospitality sector, innovation would revolve around whether the same functionalities of a bigger and more expensive machine can be designed into a smaller and cheaper machine, and around operation cost and efficiency. For instance, all our machines are equipped with eco efficiency functions which are energy and resource efficient settings, and results in the reduction of overall operating cost for the operator. This is obviously an advantage to the operator. Also, our steam machines, such as the SGV, which do not require additional detergents, can be used on carpets, curtains, and floors, and will leave no residue or chemical smell behind.
Simon: Innovation is key to allow Rational to deliver its promise of “maximum customer benefit”, delivering best product for a reasonable price to chefs working in commercial kitchens all over the world. This allows for less costs in energy, raw materials and savings in time as well as ease of use and consistency of produce be served to the customers. Rational has over 1,000 chefs globally listening to the needs of all markets and delivering this information back to help us improve the product and make sure we keep our competitive edge for years to come.
How can budget and mid-market hoteliers find trustworthy and reliable new suppliers?
Sreekumar: Brand reputation should be the first indicator of trustworthiness followed by high-quality pre-sales consultations, on-site demonstrations, and after-sales services. It is imperative that the operators look for a total cleaning solutions package for longevity of the machines. All of which we are committed to offering our clients.
Simon: There are many great and good trustworthy suppliers in budget to mid-market hotelier sector, I would recommend hoteliers ask to see references, or even talk to the competitors and hotels they wish to benchmark with, in order to see how well they have been in purchasing and sourcing the right equipment. As a manufacturer with over 10 years’ experience in the Middle East we are always ready to assist and take the pain out of this process.
How do you maintain quality in products created to fit the budget of the mid-market hospitality sector?
Sreekumar: Regardless of what we do we ensure that the highest standards are adhered to and the product will perform to its highest capabilities. To do this we have implemented processes and procedures across the company from sourcing appropriate materials, and employing technologies such as industry 4.0 devices in our manufacturing. Our commitment to industry quality standards assures quality in all our products, and our technological innovation assures client requirements are always met.
Simon: For us, quality starts at the very beginning of the process and should remain along the whole supply chain. At Rational we are very conscious of how we can deliver the best product for the best price and we do this by carefully selecting our partners and focus on continuous improvement along the whole supply chain from production to delivery. As we have 54% market share globally and produce over 70,000 units per year we are able to use the economies of scale to get the best technology and innovation to the customer.
What advice would you offer a mid-market hotelier who is considering a new supplier?
Sreekumar: While cost is a factor, it should not be the deciding factor. Further, it is truly important to weigh initial cost against running cost of the machine, and the availability of after-sales service and maintenance. It would be unfortunate for an operator to purchase a machine that may appear on the surface to meet all requirements, and then find the machine cannot cope with usage and the running and maintenance costs are too high.
Simon: I would recommend that they ask for references and talk to us as we can deliver honest feedback. We can make sure the supplier has all the necessary services to enable a secure investment and not just a one-time sale. Our equipment has a 10-15 year lifecycle, and we also have a ServicePlus Package which is free and allows for two years warranty, free training, Rational Academy invitations and Club Rational which is a free online portal with all recipes, tips and over 50,000 other chefs from all over the world sharing advice.