Brand Standards = Bland Standards?
I've had several conversations recently with F&B professionals trying to carve a unique niche in hotels through signature, concepted bars and restaurants. One topic that continues to arise is compliance to a brand's corporate-developed menus, particularly at breakfast and in bars, but also extending to other dayparts, depending on the property.
Can hotels truly make the leap to compete with freestanding venues if there are branded menus/items being shoehorned into a destination bar/restaurant? Does that dilute the consistency of a well-defined concept and confuse customers? Does it turn off locals knowing they can eat the same breakfast or drink the same cocktail, for example, at any other version of that hotel? Are in-house guests always going to be more important than building a local customer base, thus continuing the "F&B as an amenity" mentality?
Conversely, can branded menus be flexible enough to be integrated into a contemporary concept with minimal impact? And overall, are F&B brand standards an extension of brand standards for rooms, and is there a connection between the two that must be maintained for in-house guests?
I realize there are volume purchasing economics, target demographics, property locations, and tiers of hotels to consider. But if F&B can be viewed as a profit center instead of a loss leader, what changes need to happen at the brand level to maximize those potential profits?