For U.S. consumers, hotels are no longer just somewhere to sleep at night. They are increasingly finding hotels a place to relax and unwind. Hotel developers have been including amenities that will boost room rates and occupancy (pools, fitness) but have put limited money into the food and beverage amenities to meet brand standards. Most brands in the U.S. market don’t require upscale hotels to have substantial F&B offerings, so some developers have not included this in their projects.
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According to Hans van der Reijden, CEO of Ithaka Hospitality Partners, many hospitality development companies lack F&B experts, so conservative investing in F&B amenities is prevalent in upscale hotels. However, F&B amenities have become an important factor in the decision process for consumers when deciding where to stay. A recent study conducted by Sung Gyun Mun from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University shows that high-quality F&B amenities will benefit upscale hotel room revenue. The study was based on 10 years of operational data from 389 hotels in New York and California and shows that upscale properties benefit more than luxury and upper-upscale hotels.
In today’s competitive environment, no market in the U.S. is a supplier market (i.e., the demand exceeds the supply), so F&B amenities have become crucial to upscale hotels. Having adequate F&B is not a guaranteed competitive advantage but lacking sufficient F&B has become a disadvantage. Search engines, such as Expedia and Google Maps, have increased the transparency of hotel information, allowing consumers to compare hotels of the same class within a region. Marriott International and Hilton loyalty members often have more than one brand in the same class and market from which to choose.
Online information such as price, reviews, ratings and photos can help consumers visualize and anticipate their experience before making a decision. According to our research, online hotel booking behaviors for upscale hotels indicate that photos and atmosphere play the most important role in a consumer’s selection of where to stay. In other words, it is much more essential than brand awareness, rating/reviews and discounts. It is clear from our research that impressive photos and atmosphere increase customers’ price and rating tolerances as well as decrease the brand impacts.
Read rest of the article at Hotel Management
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