Food is one of the top considerations when a traveller chooses a holiday destination. And while there may be restaurants within walking distance from where they’re staying, naturally you would want your guests to eat where they sleep.
Increasingly, head chefs are finding that they need to keep their menus in a state of constant flux to keep customers engaged with their restaurants. With almost everyone claiming to be a ‘foodie’ these days, menus need to be creative and food needs to keep up with people’s changing tastes in order to capture customers.
Here are a few of the current trends shaking up the food and beverage service industry.
1. Keep it fresh and healthy
Over the last fifteen years, fresh foods, particularly produce like meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables are becoming more of a focus, particularly with the younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials) now moving into the consumer market.
The 2015 diner expects fresh, well-prepared dishes that are handcrafted like art. They even expect your pizza bases, breads, chips, ice creams and cakes to have been freshly baked or fried in your kitchen, and they can tell when your fish, pastry, kebab wraps or naan breads come from a frozen pack. For hotel restaurants, that means emphasising seasonal produce, house-made ingredients and made-to-order specialties.
Why the obsession with fresh? The Institute of Food Technologists reports that 87% of consumers equate fresher food with healthier food. Health-conscious hotel guests are less interested in processed foods and animal products. Low fat has been overtaken by organic options, superfoods, raw food, the Paleo diet and plant-based alternatives. Many diners expect each meal to have a high nutrient density from ancient super ingredients like greens, vegetables and berries, along with fruits and proteins. Consider adding on-trend ingredients like kale, coconut water, coconut oil, chia seeds, quinoa, kaniwa, amaranth and root vegetables (the more deformed, the better) to your recipes to cater for health-conscious diners.
2. Experiment with interesting techniques and hybrid flavours
In 2015, restaurateurs are finding that having experimental options on the menu is essential for keeping customers engaged, enthused, coming back for more and telling all their friends.
Adventurous diners enjoy international flavours from countries such as Tunisia, Portugal and Japan, and regions like Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean. Borrow rare preparation techniques from these places, such as fermenting, pickling, smoking and cooking in cast iron, as well as spicy sauces such as aji, yuzu, harissa, gochujang, peri peri, savoury jams, nut butters and togarashi.
Experimentation also means manipulating classic flavours into new, hybrid forms. Unexpected fusions are occurring between recipes and cuisines – think ramen burgers, cronuts, waffle tacos, and ‘Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian’ restaurants. This type of customised food development allows for innovative flavour combinations and highly specialised experiences for the consumer.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to opt in to this trend. The humble pizza is one of those dishes that’s easy to customise and market to foodies who are looking for new experiences within the dining world. Almost anything goes, and the likes of bone marrow, peaches, apple, lemon slices and clams have all made their way into toppings.
Also on the rise is the presence of craft beer and things like low BAC cocktails, often focussing on unique flavour combinations, allowing diners the chance to taste something completely out of the ordinary. New arrivals such as Japanese Whiskeys and Cuban Rums are further shaking up the landscape offering exciting pre- or post-dinner drink options.
3. Downsize for solo diners and busy travellers
The restaurant reservations site ‘Dimmi’ recently reported an 83 per cent rise in one-person bookings, measured over the last financial year. This was nearly double the increase in business overall. While many hotels offer single room options for solo travellers, they often neglect making their enticements to eat in the hotel solo-friendly. It’s best to modify your “get the second meal free” deals, and consider offers that entice solo diners, such as 25% off their meal, a voucher for their next stay, or a free breakfast for sharing a photo of their meal on social media with a hashtag of your restaurant name.
Solo travellers – and those travelling with others – are also having busier trips, whether because they’re visiting on business or simply seeking adventure. These active guests seek healthy snack-sized meals that they can eat quickly or take on the road. So have a rethink about your snack menu, in-room options and even your bar menu. Smaller servings and takeaway options can be a great addition.
4. Add a dash of tech
Now that you’re keeping up with the trends, how do you let diners know? If you haven’t yet launched an app for your hotel, you could design one to help guests book their tables or order room and poolside services with just a few taps on their mobile devices. And to attract diners who are searching restaurant and food review apps for new venues and discounts, claim your listing on these popular apps to boost exposure for your on-site restaurants and cafes.
Indeed, a big part of the current culinary landscape focuses on the intersection of technology and food. Restaurant and hotel consulting company Baum+Whiteman predicts that incorporating new technologies within food production and service processes will have the biggest influence on how hotels operate in the immediate future.
This can include what is referred to as ‘guest facing’ technologies: mediums that allow diners to take a direct approach to being in control of their dining experience. Many restaurants are finding that increased user control over the ordering and reordering processes are allowing more time for waiters and food service professionals to provide a more personalised service.
Give travellers another reason to stay with you
There’s a lot going on in the world of food, and with food strongly influencing people’s decisions of where to travel to, making it a feature of your hotel provides them with just one more reason to stay with you – and to stay inside the hotel more. In fact, if you’re keeping up with these four food trends, your guests may never even need to leave the hotel.
About the author
With a background in retail and over 14 years of management experience, Catering on the Move founder Adam Pope is passionate about his businesses and his clients. Starting this now thriving Melbourne catering company as a keen 19 year old, Adam is now leading his team to new heights. Email: [email protected]