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"A Bakers Dozen" of Strategies for Successful Hotel Breakfast Service by John Hogan

publication date: Aug 2, 2021
author/source: Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE CMHS CHO



Breakfast can make the difference between a hotel and restaurant being viewed as a commodity or as an exceptional experience.  This article offers 13 specific steps to success.


 "A Bakers Dozen" of   Strategies for Successful Hotel Breakfast Service

1. Keep in mind the charm of Bed and Breakfasts. B&Bs offer charm, a personalized touch and something that is not typically found in many branded hotels. This is not a critique of brands, but an observation that the usually owner operated, smaller B&Bs are often more unique.  Marriott hotels have tackled this over the years with their "Stay for Breakfast" promotions and advertising focusing on the enjoyment of breakfast. Take a realistic and fresh look at the space you serve breakfast and decide if it is making guests feel welcome.

2. "Have someone who genuinely welcomes each guest be the host at the door"- Every successful restaurant has a personality and it is often that of the owner or manager.  A sincere and attentive greeting by someone who is pleased to see each guest makes the difference. While many full service hotels have a greeter who seats guests, having the restaurant manager, F&B Director or other manager acting as the "host" in at least certain peak times does make a difference and lets the guest and staff know how important breakfast is.

3. Fresh presentations of the room and the offerings are critical. Boutique hotels are known as generally small properties that are unlike each other physically, but that are uniquely stylish, consistent in personalized service and welcoming. Update the "small touches" regularly.  Use of flowers, interesting table settings and tasteful holiday decorations can all distinguish your hotel restaurant and breakfast, which may be the only meal your guests have at your hotel.

4. Know your customers and serve what they want. We cannot know all of our customers every day, but we should know if they are families, groups on a budget, corporate sales staff with a major project to finish or executives on a strategic planning retreat.  Attentiveness to their likely service and food preferences is all within our reach and budgets - if we take the time to examine who our customers are.   We all use some form of revenue management and forecasting and we have the ability to better analyze who our customers are than we have done in the past.  Breakfast is an optimum time to make the day begin right.

5.  Evaluate your menus - healthy alternatives are in demand. Many people who travel are looking for a heart healthy, lower fat diet  and expect hotel breakfasts to meet those needs. Other guests may look for regional offerings and these special entrees can increase restaurant revenue, attract local residents and differentiate a hotel from its competitors.   

6. Be cost conscious, but not "cheap."  There is no doubt that a youth sports team will have different eating preferences to senior citizens or to other markets.  Stress choice, value and options when addressing those markets.

7. Keep PAR inventory - As in #6 above, maintain backup items as necessary so that all guests can be efficiently and enjoyably served.  A simple PAR system can address both budgetary and quality issues.

8. Speed is often critical. Taking inspiration from the boutique hotel trends, many hotels address the breakfast are with bold designs and flexible open space.  Many hotels and brands are using freshly prepared breakfast buffets as a means to offering variety and speed of delivery.

9. Everybody sells.  Breakfast staff often have the opportunity to interact one on one with many guests at breakfast and find out about the future needs of those guests for hotel and related services as appropriate in everyday conversation.  Effective managers have incentives for serving staff and others that reward attentive individuals who help support the hotel and the guests needs as well.  In these days of uncertain economic times, the expression of "all in this together" rings even more true.

10. Offer something unique and personalized Breakfast is typically the most commonly eaten meal at hotels. Unfortunately, the offerings are too often described as just that ... common. Chefs can be more creative and use more local or seasonal foods. Guests also benefit because they have more choices and, maybe, a more memorable hotel stay.    If you are a smaller rooms only hotel with no formal culinary staff, there are still many options available from your suppliers, but you need to ask and then listen to their ideas.

11. Listen to guest concerns, compliments and/or complaints - and DO SOMETHING!  This sounds so basic, yet too many hotel staff are still waiting to be empowered by their managers to properly respond to guest comments.  Ritz Carlton sets the tone for empowering their staff, as evidenced by their Baldridge Awards and their global reputation in almost every community they serve.  Look at the referenced article below  or online anywhere for additional examples.

12. Forget that "breakfast is a cost center or not profitable" stigma.

  • In full service hotels, breakfast represents a comparatively low food cost activity and a chance to start every guest's day well. 

  • In rooms only hotels, breakfast is a legitimate cost of service with a high perceived value to guests.  It offers the opportunity to showcase a special flair at your hotel IF the effort is made.

  • In luxury hotels, breakfast is a clear opportunity to outshine the competition by the positioning of your hotel as a center of excellence with attention to detail in all areas.

  • It also means effective hotel restaurant managers embrace the "pride of ownership attitude" and take corrective action as needed.

13. Thank you - come again.  Check delivery is such a small thing, yet it can be critical as it is likely the last impression.  While we are blessed to have multiple generations in our work force and clientele, the phrase "thank you" is so much more powerful than "no problem." Look back at #1 and remember the lessons of your favorite successful hometown independent restaurant.  The owner or manager is often at the door - welcoming each guest individually and saying please come again soon.


 How do you say "thank you?" 

(Share your best ideas and I will feature them in an upcoming column)

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