Another question that hoteliers consider before selecting their F&B concept is which option would generate more footfall.
According to Billington: “Of course a well-known name will always add further value to the hotel proposition and facilities, as well as attracting external footfall. Brands are about building trust. They evolve from the reputation you have built and connect in a relevant way to your guests. And let’s face it, people spend more money when and where they feel good.”
Maadad said: “Using a well-established brand is definitely a way to ensure a successful launch and attract initial footfall to the venue. The concept already has a wide acceptance and recognition in the market via a network of brand loyalists and connoisseurs.”
“But what is vital is how we present the concept,” added Maadad, talking from the point of view of launching The Black Lion Public House & Dining as well as the Bistro Des Arts brands successfully.
“The location of the venue decides the strategy — with both these venues, we are not relying on resident guests for the business as the clients are mainly [walk-ins]. But they have become successful due to their prime positioning inside a hotel with direct accessibility,” he said.
Franchising gives some hotels an opportunity to “play it safe” with their F&B selections, which could be wise given the current economic climate. By leasing the space rather than operating these areas themselves, they can improve their chances of success, according to Billington.
“More and more we are seeing hotels sticking to what they do best [rooms]. While many do design and create their own concepts, often the story of the venue/menu is lacking and the creativity or colouring can be bland.”
Maadad said: “Any stakeholder these days would certainly like to play it safe and avoid unnecessary risks involved in a hotel opening. The five-year period is a substantial phase and when the hotel does open, the relevance of the F&B concepts to the market is a point to ponder. Hence it would be recommended to go with well-established concepts with proven success records in terms of relevance to the market and potential client segment.”
But not everyone is convinced that franchise restaurants are the way to go.
Viceroy Palm Jumeirah general manager Mikael Svensson told Hotelier Middle East at the pre-opening walk through of the soon-to-open hotel that it would not franchise any of its F&B outlets. “Our F&B is not going to be a Gordon Ramsay’s or whatever. We don’t want to brand anything for the sake of the name of the restaurant.
“Viceroy is managing all its restaurants independently. We chose Quatro Passi as an outlet because of its authentic Italian food in Nurano, Italy; and because most people wouldn’t know what Quatro Passi is, it gives us an element of surprise.”