Hotel F&B Observer Blog

Hotel food and beverage professionals share experience, skills and commentary. These hotelier blogs reflect a variety of unique career perspectives and real-life workplace stories, observations and opinions.

A Look at Sustainability and Organic Food in Hotel Restaurants

By Fred DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech and Joseph Bruno (the University of Delaware)

In the 21st century, U.S. consumers desire and want organic and/or sustainable food. Organic food sales have come a long way; in 1990, sales were $1 billion nationally as opposed to in 2010 with national sales reaching $26.7 billion. That’s a significant change over a span of 20 years. Consumers desire this different, once small segment of the market due to drivers such as health and wellness, societal impact, and environmental impact. Overall, going sustainable is better than going organic per se.

The official EPA definition of organic food: “‘Organically grown food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (such as biological pesticides) may be used in producing organically grown food.” There is no accepted, specific definition for being sustainable just as there is no accepted definition of natural food. Without actual facts and visible impacts, these are just key words utilized for marketing purposes.

An easy way to define sustainability would be that it involves managing the societal and environmental impact of your business operations. Having your business  committed to sustainability is an implication that your establishment is doing its best locally to make difference on issues such as climate change, animal welfare, and food waste. By being a leader in the community, your fellow community members are further educated about their respective choices and can have a better choice of dining at businesses that share the same values.

Organic food is an important aspect of the industry. The EPA definition clearly states that use of synthetic pesticides is prohibited. Numerous studies have shown organic food’s health benefits. But just going organic doesn’t help to nearly the same degree societally and environmentally that committing sustainability does. Read more of this >>


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Revolutionizing the Way Restaurants Take Reservations

For decades now, restaurants have struggled with their reservation systems. Some businesses still do it all using pencil and paper, which requires a lot of time and erasers, while others have become trapped paying the growing fees from OpenTable and systems alike where their profits are immediately slashed. With the innovation of a new technology called ticket reservation systems (TRS) the way restaurants take reservations will be revolutionized.

Ticket reservation systems allow restaurants to fully maintain their table vacancies. Each table can be presented online and show availability or being sold out. Another advantage of this system is that tables can be held with money placed up front. The following image displays what a typical screen in a ticket reservation system might look like.  Read more of this >>


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Re-Exploring Pinterest for Your Hotel Internal and External Marketing

By Dani Danuphon Tantiphayak, Di Song and Frederick DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech

Pinterest is a type of social media platform where users can share and organize the images, which they are interested in, or that are inspiring. Hotel and restaurant business can take advantage of this development.

In the hotel or restaurant industry, it is important for customers to know what the hotel or restaurant is currently doing. Pinterest can be one of the most powerful marketing tools in the current online market. In terms of restaurants, Pinterest can be a small online index/ menu for customers to see the origin of the meat/wine, new item on the menu, the current menu, or chef’s blog so customer know who is cooking their food and what is the background of this person, daily menu, and, most important of all, items of promotion. Furthermore, hotels can use Pinterest as a way to increase property online packages, events marketing and holiday discounts.

Platforms such as Pinterest can be used for marketing proposes and also for operational proposes. Hotels and restaurants can use Pinterest on F&B standards of service, restaurant technology (current and up coming), a type of communication between employees, management and owners, and to reward employees for their great performance on their Pinterest pages. In addition, Pinterest can also be used as a small calendar/reminder for employees about the upcoming events and their weekly/monthly working schedule.

After all, Pinterest is the tool for hotels and restaurants to increase communication between them and their customers. Good communication on Pinterest will increase customer loyalty toward their brand, encourage customer feedback to improve service, and change potential customers into actual customers.

Michael E. Porter once said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” It is very important for the management to understand the new ways to communicate with customers through social media, but if they are not active using those tools then it is best not to use it at all. Being inactive in social media will bring more harm than benefits to the hotel/restaurant online reputation. Overall, Pinterest is just about everything the new generation needs in terms of innovative talent management and customer interaction, and is a great way to analysis customer online trends.


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Accurate Beverage Management Using Technology

By Dr. Fred J. DeMicco  and Brian Liachowitz

Inventory management is an important factor in restaurants. Poorly performing inventory management often leads to inventory shrinkage and employee theft. An area that is often most susceptible to inventory shrinkage is beverage management. There are many ways that an employee can steal from a restaurant while handling alcoholic beverages. In these instances, inventory control is imperative. With emerging technologies, there are many systems that can be used to manage beverage inventory. Some of the most popular beverage management systems available to date are AccuBar, EasyBar, and Bevinco’s Bar Management Solution. These systems allow managers to holistically view the flow of inventory as it enters the restaurant up until the beverage is poured to the guest. Read more of this >>


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Tech Ideas from Students

UPDATED Creative Uses for the iWrist watch, iPhone, Google Glass, the tablet PC and iPad in Hotel F&B Operations

By Frederick J. DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech and Emmanuella Owens

Tablet PCs, including iPads are continuing to offer interesting options for our hospitality industry. About 150 million tablets are manufactured and shipped worldwide each year and this is projected to increase to at least 2017 (Statista, 2013). Now add in iWrist watches, Google Glass and we see some new opportunities in our hotel and hospitality operations.

Again we asked our capstone hospitality strategic technologies class here in the Lerner College at the University of Delaware to provide some examples of how these new technologies could be used in an F&B operation. One interesting idea that was germinated last year by the class was using the iPad as an ordering device from the table (not very new or novel these days), but the novelty was being able to view the entire preparation of your dish live via a camera in the kitchen (and see the step of the recipe in real time) from your restaurant seat as the chef prepared your menu item. We like this, as today’s consumers generally tend to be; “cuisine literate” but are “culinary illiterate” (e.g. not as “culinary savvy” in preparing menu items). So this video of the action of menu item preparation is a type of culinary education or “literacy” for the guest.

Some new visionary and creative suggestions from the UD class include the following: Read more of this >>


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Strategic Thinking for New Innovative MICE-I.T. and Implications for F & B Operations

By Frederick J. DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech and Serena Shen

Meetings, Incentive, Conventions and Expositions (MICE) provide significant revenue for the hotel, resort, and F&B operations. More and more event and conference planners are adding new technology to their venues as participants are demanding these new technological innovations for their events and venues. Previously in a past Dr. Food Tech Blog I wrote about using the Nintendo Wii for coffee breaks (the Wii break) to get attendees involved and up meeting people at the conference during a break.

I recently challenged my strategic management class here at the University of Delaware, full of “millenials,” asking what are some new innovations they would like to see in the future for MICE.  We called this hands-on team exercise in class MICE – I T.
Some suggestions from the UD strategic technologies class included the following:

Use Google Glass to translate the meeting into different languages and use facial recognition technology to connect people on LinkedIn only by looking at their faces through Google Glass. ( QinBian, Yiwen Xu, Yufei, Wang, Yunmei Bai, Nan Jiang, Teng Wang).

“Avatar Conferencing,” a completely virtual conference so that you could hold it anywhere, such as on a safari in a jungle, on top of the Empire state building, or a NYC street. Each attendee would create their own avatar. Avatars can interact with one another and attend lectures and discussions, and explore the virtual world! (Katelyn Morse, Mary Palma, Allison Hanik, Caroline Sohodski)

Mobile/Virtual kiosk ordering system that allows you to view the menu and order food from anywhere. Upon ordering, a message provides the location and time to pick-up your food. (Jessica Wincott, Schuyler Lehman, Jennifer Turowski).

GPS tracker with RFID—CRM: Attendees wear a GPS tracker that tracks what exhibits they have already attended and whether they “liked it” or not and suggests other exhibits based on the ones they have already been to. ( Rachel Borkoski, Samantha Dominguez, Stephanie Hepner, Lindsay Canell).

“MICE Trap:” Instant LinkedIn. Write a brief profile and meet other people in conferences. You can chat with them and even meet up with them. A networking opportunity while technology advances. ( Junyi Chung, Michael Diminick, Mattew Heck).

Pre-arrival: 3-D virtual tour of convention set-up and facility with information on each group sent to iPad, smart phones and emails. ( Nina Clark, Robert Serpico, Lindsay Rogers).

Audio Device and Virtual Food menu cart that plays information on a particular wine being served from the vineyard. (Alexandra Rufo, Megan Smutz, Amy Cohn, Kimberly Lindell).

Add microphones to MICE conference name badges. (Leigh Redefer, Sara Kazmierski, Jessica Rosenberg).

Virtual holograms of key note speakers available in the privacy of your home. You can also follow along with text and slides on a tablet. (Brian Prickrill, Alexander Vellios, Seth Bergman, Anne Truono).

Phone technology that allows interactive contact sharing without the use of business cards. Contact information is stored directly into your phone/tablet along with links to person’s bio/resume, business position and company’s information, automatically add them to “MICE Trap”, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, and all other social media connection sites. (Callie D’Ambrisi, Alexandra Giannini, Adam Cowperthwait, Stephanie Johnson).

An all-encompassing smartphone app, which can be interfaced with a phone, tablet or computer. Capabilities include:

  • Provides information on all aspects of the conference: maps, schedules, list of vendors, etc.
  • Social networking: attendees can share thoughts with one another, network, and post ideas.
  • Pre-registration and check-in.
  • Real time responses to questions during speeches.
  • All purchasing completed during conference, monitored by the App: Track trends, and order room service.

(Jean Thomae, Morgan West, Maria Trasolini, Kaitlyn Wendler).

Space Conferences: take your meeting to the moon! ( Brandon Groux, Alexander Vellions, Lauren Mitchell, Dingchao He, Julie Garafalo).

Hologram Guest Speakers: Allows having top experts and specialists and informative people speak at a lower cost. (Anam Ahmed, Justin Tansey, John Guzman).

Telecommunicator for event guests that can translate foreign languages directly into their ear bud (iPhone) or Google Glass ear piece. ( Erin Marshall, Yuchen Song, Fengming Yu, Pinyi Zhao, Nguyen Tran, Jing Zhang).

After reading these, I would enjoy hearing from you on any additions to this MICE IT list, and what you may have thought of some of the ideas above.

Thank you.  Cheers.  Fred DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech   FDeMicco@Udel.edu


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Creative Uses for the Tablet PC and iPad in Hotel F&B Operations

By Frederick J. DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech and Mike Teng

Tablet PCs, including iPads are taking our hospitality industry by storm. About 140 million tablets are manufactured and shipped worldwide each year and this is projected to increase to at least 2017 (Statista, 2013).

We recently asked our capstone hospitality strategic technologies class here in the Lerner College at the University of Delaware to provide some examples of how the tablet/iPad could be used in a F&B operation. One interesting idea that was germinated was using the iPad as an ordering device from the table (not very new or novel these days), but the novelty was being able to view the entire preparation of your dish live via a camera in the kitchen (and see the step of the recipe in real time) from your restaurant seat as the chef prepared your menu item. We like this, as today’s consumers generally tend to be “culinary literate” but not as “culinary savvy” (in preparing menu items). So this video of the action of menu item preparation is a type of culinary education for the guest. Read more of this >>


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Using Pinterest in Your Hotel F&B Operation

By Dr. Fred J. DeMicco & Mike Teng, the University of Delaware

Pinterest is a new social media tool that can be used in your F&B operation. Since it is web-based, you can engage all of your customers and far flung global hotels using this tool. You can create your own hotel “group” on Pinterest for your managers and/or associates as a training and education device. For example, you can “pin” articles from trade magazines, any guest comments, new recipes with photos, etc., to share with your staff (anywhere in the world).

Think of Pinterest as a giant bulletin board for employees (and guests) to see. We have been using this here at the University of Delaware in our classes, for students to share Wall Street Journal articles with the class. You can also engage all of your operations to share new recipes, marketing ideas, and guest comments all in a very user-friendly and fun space on the Web. Read more of this >>


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