Hyatt's Streamlined Select-Service Strategy
Hyatt Place and Hyatt House get a menu makeover.
Hyatt's two select-service brands—Hyatt Place and Hyatt House—are waking up to the possibilities of an elevated morning meal, while simultaneously streamlining their strategy to cross-utilize ingredients for menus beyond breakfast.
Hyatt Place highlighted its latest complimentary breakfast additions recently in New York City, where I attended a celebration of their build-your-own breakfast bowl menu at Hyatt Place Midtown-South (a full description of their new daily offerings is at the bottom of this story.) The event was hosted by the Food Network’s Katie Lee, and featured five students from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) competing to craft their best version of a breakfast bowl for judges.
The winner—Brooke DiResta—won with her Nomad Bowl, featuring a soft-boiled, cage-free egg, toasted ancient grains, kale, sausage crumbles, and charred lemony asparagus ribbons. DiResta also received $10,000, a three-night stay at any Hyatt Place in the States, and will have a version of her winning bowl added to the Hyatt Place breakfast menu next year in more than 250 North American properties.
Afterward, I visited the nearby new-build Hyatt House Chelsea with Steven Dominguez, VP, global brands, Hyatt Place & Hyatt House; and Mark Krystopa, director of culinary operations, Hyatt Place & Hyatt House. While there, we discussed the strategy behind the latest F&B initiatives at both select-service brands, which share near identical core menus.
Hotel F&B: What’s the history of these two brands and why was there a need to tweak the breakfast and core menus now?
Dominguez: Both brands were basically born about ten years ago. Summerfield Suites turned in Hyatt House (currently 70+ properties in the U.S.), and AmeriSuites became Hyatt Place, so we had a chance to start them from scratch with guest needs in mind, and our menu updates are a continuation of that. We’re always addressing guest needs through F&B, and this is a great example of how these brands are evolving.
Krystopa: While Hyatt Place and Hyatt House are select-service brands, they’re really more like brother and sister instead of twins. They share some of the same DNA but aren’t identical. Both have complimentary breakfasts, but Hyatt Place offers the build-your-own breakfast bowls and Greek yogurt parfaits, while Hyatt House has a made-to-order omelet station along with a new featured omelet of the day.
Our key demographic is business travelers, with Hyatt House being more focused on extended stay with kitchen amenities in the room. Hyatt Place offers a 24-7 Gallery menu since there aren’t kitchen facilities in the rooms, while Hyatt House offers those same items on their H Bar Sip & Snack menu, but not around the clock. Both have 24-hour grab-and-go markets filling in the gaps, with Hyatt House offering items that can be warmed up or finished in the suite kitchens.
Hotel F&B: Beyond the complimentary breakfast, what have you changed about the for-pay core menu that both brands share?
Krystopa: Everything is streamlined now to be at least cost neutral for owners—that was our guardrail throughout this process. We went from 27 previous items down to a core of 14. There’s a deeper emphasis on cross-utilizing ingredients for all dayparts. For example, most of the ingredients in our breakfast bowls are used throughout the core menus. That means less inventory to keep track of in the back of the house. Before, it was like a game of Jenga or Tetris for staff, where they’d take one item off the shelf and another would move into its place because storage was so tight.
Even with the reduced number of items, our guests still perceive that there’s variety and quality, because we’re emphasizing our use of cage-free eggs, antibiotic-free chicken, grass-fed beef, and premium ingredients—following our F&B philosophy of “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.”—with many items being shareables or small plates. Our goal is to catch the guest for a drink and a snack before they go to dinner, and when they return for a nightcap. Here in New York for example, some of the best restaurants in the world are right outside the door, so our core menus aren’t created to compete with that.
Dominguez: We did about five months of beta testing before we rolled out the core menu, including some direct consumer research and deep dives into our guest satisfaction data as well. Because we have about a decade of sales metrics for our menu items, we had a good idea of what the top selling items were and started from there.
Krystopa: Everything on the new menu is a collection of number-ones. Meaning, when we beta tested our updated versions of items like sliders or street tacos, maybe tweaked with different proteins or ingredients, only the versions rated number-one in our beta testing ended up on the menu. Anything rated less than number-one was left off.
Hotel F&B: What were some surprises during the beta testing?
Dominguez: We thought chorizo as a protein was going to be a slam dunk because it’s such an on-trend ingredient right now. However, our beta testers told us it was too spicy, so we didn’t add it to the menu.
Krystopa: And remember our ingredients need to be cross-utilized in other dishes, so we had big plans for chorizo. We were going to feature it in a chilaquiles breakfast bowl for Hyatt Place, then chorizo tacos and flatbreads on the core menu, but it just didn’t make the cut.
Dominguez: Conversely, we thought our Taste of Tuscany Board (fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, stuffed cherry peppers, cornichons, tomato bruschetta, sliced baguette) might have been too unfamiliar for our testers, even though we loved it. We thought they might prefer something more conventional like a cheese board, but the Taste of Tuscany Board scored surprisingly high, and it made the menu.
Sliders were another surprise. Of all the proteins we tested, including grass-fed beef, pulled pork came out on top.
Krystopa: You’ll also notice there isn’t any seafood on the core menu. It just didn’t score high enough to make the cut, no matter what dish we used it in.
Hotel F&B: Are you allowing properties to add locally themed items to the menu as well?
Krystopa: It depends on the level of skill and equipment in the kitchen, but we’re allowing about 20% of the menu to be localized. We have a version of the core menu called core plus, where there’s room for properties to add their local dishes as long as they fit the template of what’s already on the core menu.
So, for example, our Hyatt House in Naples, Florida, has an advanced kitchen, and they’re in an area where seafood is plentiful. They could add to the street taco template by sourcing local fish and frying it for fish tacos to appeal to local tastes.
Also, there are several dishes and recipes that scored high during testing, but not high enough to make the core menu. We’ve stored those recipes and made them available to our properties so they can add those dishes in a core plus context if they wish.
Hotel F&B: How have the new menu changes affected staffing in the front and back of the house?
Dominguez: It’s a shift in mindset. Before the labor was focused on the back of the house manufacturing our sandwiches and other items, and now it’s more focused on the front of the house in terms of replenishment and cleaning up, especially at breakfast where the build-your-own bowls and buffet have a lot of moving parts and need attention, but the upside is we want our staff to be interacting with our guests more and asking them about their breakfast experience, and what they might need otherwise for their morning to get off to a good start.
Krystopa: Like everyone else in the industry, our back-of-the-house labor and turnover can be a challenge. By streamlining our menu, reducing the number of items and subsequent inventory, it’s boosting morale because it’s made their job easier and their work environment more manageable, so they can concentrate on executing our menu at a high level.
Hotel F&B: What are your ultimate goals for this new menu program?
Krystopa: We built this to be relevant for three-to-five years, and we did it at a relatively low cost. We have a mix of time-tested favorites with trending ingredients and presentations that we think will perform well in that timeframe. We want to separate ourselves from the competition through the quality of our ingredients and the ability to customize, which is something we think resonates with today’s guests and exceeds their expectations for select-service F&B.
Dominguez: Our social media campaign for the Hyatt Place breakfast additions is #WhySettle, since our market research told us guests in the select-service tier felt they were settling for whatever breakfast was put in front of them by whatever brand, rather than having control over it. We’re putting the power of customizing that select-service breakfast experience into the hands of the guest, and doing it with premium ingredients.
It’s not necessarily about the breakfast being free, it’s about the fact that when you’re ready to go in the morning, you can count on everything you want being there, and get out the door in ten minutes to a business meeting or other commitment. It’s really about our guests being more productive when they’re with us, and our breakfast is an enabler to help them achieve that.
From an ownership standpoint, our new breakfast program has reduced the cost per occupied room since we initiated the rollout in April, which is an important metric when you have a complimentary breakfast. Our new core menu will be in all North American Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties by July, so we’re optimistic that with fewer items on that menu we’ll see a continuation of that overall cost reduction.
2017 Hyatt Place Breakfast Additions
- Classic American Bowl: Cage-free eggs, premium protein and a sweet side of pancakes or waffles (available Saturday-Monday)
- Southern Comfort Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with southern skillet potatoes, sausage gravy and hot sauce (available Tuesday)
- Little Italy Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with roasted Parmesan potatoes, all-natural sausage links and tomato bruschetta (available Wednesday)
- California Dreamin’ Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with ancient grain and kale blend, all-natural bacon and avocado salsa (available Thursday)
- Burrito Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with roasted corn and black beans, oven-roasted sausage and potatoes, salsa and lime crema (available Friday)
- Bananas Foster Parfait: Oikos® nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt topped with bananas Foster compote and caramel (available Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
- Tangy Berry Bliss Parfait: Oikos® nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt topped with berry compote and French toast croutons (available Tuesday and Thursday)
This feature was originally published in June, 2017. It is one of our Reader Favorites and is updated regularly.