The hospitality industry in Asia-Pacific is booming and hotel chains are looking to the region to understand the trends in food and beverage and drive new growth.
Alongside taking advantage of new opportunities in the bedrooms business, many hoteliers are looking at the food and beverage (F&B) sector too. F&B spending is growing strongly in the region Ð up 11 per cent year on year. This is much higher than Western Europe and North America, which are expanding at just two and four per cent respectively.
When it comes to F&B, here are three statistical trends which could help you design a strategy fit for the future.
1. Consumers want locally sourced food
This year, for the first time ever, the Asian fast-food market is set to outpace Western brands such as McDonalds and KFC, according to online-payments provider AFPI.
Consumers in China, Korea and Singapore are starting to turn away from traditional Western-brand food, like burgers and fried chicken, and opting instead for local homegrown options.
This is part of a bigger global trend. Consumers are increasingly concerned about where our food comes from and how it got on our plate. We want to know what we’re eating, where it was grown, how it was grown, and sometimes even the name of the animal.
Many hotel restaurants are starting to use this trend to their advantage, not only by placing emphasis on locally sourced food but also by focusing on local cuisine.
One of the reasons for this growing interest in food sourcing is health: 48 per cent of Chinese consumers say they prefer to cook at home for health reasons. This is the primary reason for eating at home in Korea and Singapore too.
But health isn’t the only reason. Consumers are also increasingly enticed by the food and brand stories behind the products. For example, thirty-six per cent of consumers in Asia-Pacific now say that whether food is organic plays an important part in their buying decision. This figure is higher than in Europe, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), or North America.
According to Avanthi Ravindran, Senior Trend and Innovation Consultant at Mintel:
“Consumers [in Asia] are really buying into the stories that brands are telling them: where it comes from, what is special about it, who made it and how exclusive the product makes the consumer feel.”
2. Consumers want food that looks as good as it tastes
It has always been important for food to look appetizing and well presented. But with the growth of social media, it’s more important than ever.
Today, people want to take photos of what they’re eating and share them with friends, family, and others on social media.
A massive 62 percent of Chinese consumers say they post about their food experiences on social media at least once a month; the same figure is 42 percent in Korea, 40 percent in Singapore, and 29 percent in Australia.
We’re living in an increasingly share-orientated society, and people are looking for experiences Ð visual, or otherwise Ð that they can share with their friends and family.
This is gold dust for restaurants and hotels and a trend that they’re starting to tap into. Many are purposefully making their meals more photogenic. That might be dishes with bright, bold colours Ð or food that is uniquely designed to impress and astound.
By focusing on presentation, they’re encouraging consumers to do their marketing for them Ð snapping pictures of their food and sharing them across the world.
And it works:
“About 99 percent of my travel research is now done via Instagram,”
Australian travel blogger Georgia Hopkins recently told POPSUGAR.
“I dig really deep until I find something that looks unique, interesting, or a little off-the-beaten track.”
3. On-demand delivery picks up pace worldwide
The global drive for convenience has hit Asia-Pacific too. As our lives become busier and the cost of food worldwide falls, people are becoming increasingly comfortable ordering food for delivery on a regular basis.
“Most people struggle with time or lack the skills to want to cook every night of the week,”
says Australian nutritionist Emma Stirling.
The data tells the same story. Forty-four percent of Chinese consumers get food delivered to their home at least once per week; another third get it delivered a couple of times per month. Very few people say they don’t use food delivery at all: just 27 percent in Australia, 15 percent in Singapore, 11 percent in China, and a tiny two percent in Korea.
This growing and urgent demand for convenience is something that hotel restaurants are using to their advantage Ð not through delivery but through online booking. Hotel restaurants are meeting consumers’ increasing desire to save time and have food prepared for them by launching direct booking routes that enable consumers to reserve a table quickly and easily.
In fact, some industry analysts estimate that online booking in Australia will account for about 25 percent of all restaurant reservations within the next year or so.
This figure is likely to be even higher for other countries in Asia-Pacific where digital comes first. In Korea, for example, people spend nearly 200 minutes per day within apps on their phones, the highest in the world.
There’s lots of growth to be had for hotel restaurants in Asia-Pacific. Playing to these three trends can help you set yourself apart from the competition.
About the author
Matthew Stubbs is CEO and Founder of BookingTek (http://www.bookingtek.com), a London and California-based tech company whose software enables hotels to launch real-time direct booking platforms for their meeting rooms and restaurants. Used by some of the world’s largest hotel chains, Meetings Maker (http://www.meetingsmaker.com) and TableRes (https://www.tableres.com) increase efficiency; reduce cover charges and referral fees; drive direct revenue and optimise guest spend.