Freshman Recipe for Increasing Hotel F&B Revenue
Is your hotel located within a five-mile radius of a college or university campus? Does your business plan identify the student patron as part of your marketing strategy and, if so, how are you marketing yourself to them? Student patrons can be a valuable source of business.
Academic life still centers around socializing in its many forms. Students, to some extent, still have discretionary funds available for various pursuits—such as, communication devices, music downloads, attending concerts, movies, etc. Coffee at Starbucks is a hefty investment when you consider the habit and constancy of such visits.
There is a substantial potential for your F&B profitability if you identify the “collegiate” factor (i.e., students, faculty, administrators) as part of the hotel dining usage. Marketing specifically to this group can be integrated within your existing advertising with targeted rates and specials available to those who can produce a student ID or others who provide proof of their affiliation with a university. Group mailers and university newspaper inserts can be used as marketing vehicles.
Consider non-peak hours for promoting dining specials for this group and highlight menu selections which can be prepared with lower food costs and preparation (versus haute cuisine). Also, be prepared for en masse dining preferences and having sufficient seating capabilities. Perhaps you have a quieter time of day and/or evening when you can welcome the collegiates better and provide the same quality service as your other dining patrons. Suffice it to say that word of mouth on how you handle welcoming the collegiates will be a Tweet (and ping—if cameras reach the tabletop in time) away. Welcome the History Club ensemble with a group Tweet invite and be ready to serve away.
One of the benefits to providing great service to your collegiate dining patrons is the degree of free press you would receive. It might behoove you to assign servers who are astute in maintaining up-to-date social communications on behalf of your restaurant, as this will provide you the level of guidance and responsiveness for your collegiate program.
P.S. Make sure all your menus contain written notice regarding the handling of “collegiate” dining specials, ID requirements (if you want to go this far), and YES, how tipping will be handled for group dining.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone.