Comment: Hotels of the future

How food & beverage will help shape the next generation

Opinion, Columnists

It’s no secret that the F&B industry has been through the ringer in recent years; the emergence of the millennials brought about an abundance of change across all sectors. Casual dining was hit as dominating chains were slow to innovate, folks turned their noses up at fine dining, opting for better value options, and fast casual or quick service categories suffered as consumers became more health conscious.

Customers don’t want pretentious F&B — they have other, more important issues on their mind, such as ‘healthification’, responsibility, and sustainability. All of these stopped being quoted as trends and started being recognised as industry mainstays.

As the Gen Z’ers race towards maturity, ready to take the purchasing power from the millennials, existing F&B outlets have struggled to stay ahead of the game — so what are the lessons we can learn from global F&B in the last 10 years, and what can we expect from it in the future?

Just as hover boards or flying cars took centre stage in almost every 80’s sci-fi flick, in 2017 and beyond, technology will continue to be central in shaping hotels, and more specifically their F&B offering. Convenience is the driver — and reserving tables, ordering and paying will all be done through smartphones, as cashless environments and RFID wearables become the norm. This is technology with a purpose, aimed at an audience that demand convenience, efficiency and personalised service.

You could argue that in the hotels of the future every element connects with the customer: VR, AI and other future technologies will enable hotels — and their F&B brands — to personally connect visually and socially.

And while technology may be at the helm, the goal is to provide a service that consumers consider important to include in their lives.

Predicting trends and behaviours is always a gamble, it’s even harder when you consider the rate at which technology evolves.

But from current industry research together with historic analysis we can infer a few key movements that F&B establishments globally should be taking note of, all driven by value (we’re not talking discounts and cheaper prices here but the value of the overall experience). When customers perceive your brand to be great value it affects their purchasing habits and loyalty. A simple formula for calculating value is ‘benefits - cost = value’; in other words value is created when the customer feels the time, effort, energy, convenience and price is good.

Side note: all day diners do not provide value, they are uninspiring, emotionless and all too often, tasteless.

Airbnb is a good example of modern hospitality; it’s thrived because of a customer-centric methodology offering choice and convenience along with diverse pricing options, showing they understand their audience and embrace technology. These models are pushing the hospitality industry forward as they accurately identify and solve customer pain points and/or address the supply/demand gap.

But hotels are far from doomed, they can compete if they are ready for change. 

In short, the future is one of understanding, flexibility, forward thinkers and willingness to change. There is every possibility that F&B could eventually provide more revenue than room nights as hotels become multi-use spaces and F&B outlets are on hand for drinks and dinners.  With this understanding comes endless opportunities.

About the Author: As a co-founder of Figjam, Sanjay Murthy works closely with investors to set strategies and objectives for individual concepts. With more than 25 years’ experience working with international businesses such as Adidas and Tesco, Murthy’s primary focus is to deliver above and beyond client expectations. Connect via www.figjamco.com

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