A Perspective on Hotel Tabletops
One company's view on how to set the scene.
Hotel F&B: Tabletops as a category covers a wide range of products that are used in many different F&B environments. How would you define tabletops, and what products do you think are essential for operators?
Kian Forouzesh: While the tabletops category could include a wide variety of products, we narrow it down to dinnerware, drinkware, and flatware. These are the essentials for any operation. The rest in this category could be considered as accessories or as decorative pieces.
Is it more important to have an aesthetically memorable tabletop, or a functional one for the guest?
They are equally important. However, the ambience and atmosphere of the property or venue dictate which one direction is more important.
What are some of the latest trends in tabletops?
For many years, F&B operators were relying on white dinnerware. However, we see that is changing, and for the past few years we see operators are adding color to the mix. Having said that, the color pieces usually act as an accent piece or an accessory. The white plate, regardless if it is round or square, is still the color of choice for main course, most of the time.
What parts of a hotel F&B and meetings/events operation are showing the most growth in tabletops and why?
We experience the outdoor expansions in many established properties. Hotels are adding rooftops and/or outdoor gardens wherever they are able to. This is a new trend that is really driven by customers; they do not want to be confined in a closed environment on a beautiful day.
How is technology being integrated into tabletops today, and what is driving that integration?
I have seen the integration of POS systems and even the utilization of tablets is being transformed into menus and offers a unique digital experience. I am sure more technology will eventually be integrated to different parts of tabletop.
How can traditional tabletop products co-exist with the latest tech tools vying for limited space on a tabletop?
For now, they do coexist, and I believe this trend will continue in the future. There are many operators who are not for change, and sometimes smaller operations find it easier and more cost-effective to do things in a traditional way. At the same time, multi-unit operations and bigger venues have the tendency to optimize their operation and are the first to jump on the new technology to help them to achieve their goals.
Which tabletop products require the most durability, and how are you addressing those needs from a guest standpoint, and also a storage/inventory standpoint?
I think every aspect of the tabletops should be relatively durable, especially the ones that the customer touches and feels. Today’s consumers are very savvy and alert of the vessels they are eating off of or drinking from. The same goes for the cutlery, it should have to have the right look, weight, and balance as well.
Dinnerware and glassware in particular need to be stored properly with the appropriate racks and have enough of them in circulation to get the maximum life from them. At the end of the day, these are fragile products. However, with proper handling and care, they can last a really long time.
What do you predict tabletops will look like 10 years from now?
I am afraid my answer is boring, but I do not see much change in the near future. Tabletops in general are immune to drastic change. Since thousands of years ago, a bowl is a bowl, a cup is a cup, and so on. So, while I cannot say what color or geometric shape a “bowl” will visually appear like 10 years from now, I can say it will remain a “bowl.”
Any final thoughts on tabletops?
You have to love the tabletop business to be in it, and I love it. Tabletops in many ways reminds me of the fashion industry. I mean, we don’t make shirts and pants; we make plates and glasses. These vessels have been pretty much the same structure throughout their history. But just like fashion, tabletops change looks, colors, shapes, and material time to time. Sometimes consumers love it, and sometimes it backfires, but it is an exciting and rewarding industry, and I am blessed to be in this position.
CEO & President
Merchandise Connection International Corporation (MCIC)