The state of taste is changing as the world becomes more globalized and people become more sophisticated eaters. So hoteliers are rethinking the types of food they are serving because they crave winning that increasingly important stomach share.
But it’s not that easy. There are several trends at play but here it is boiled down to its essence: Diners see eating out as a social opportunity where they taste small plates or go large and family style, while also experimenting with new flavors that are potentially more healthful in a fast casual atmosphere for a strong value on price.
For practical purposes the trend manifests itself in different ways. Ethically focused food are rising in popularity while non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee drinks and juices create new markets. And off course specialty meals like gluten Free or vegetarian are soaring in popularity. Now hoteliers see the need to rejigger menus to better compete.
At this week’s BITAC® Food & Beverage East, which took place this week at the Grand Floridian Hotel located at the Walt Disney World Resort, we utilized our advanced real-time polling system to figure out what’s on the minds of hoteliers regarding the changes happening right now in the culinary category.
BITAC® is of course the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. This week marks the 46th BITAC® meeting, which is attracted the F&B executive elite representing leading and forward thinking companies. And they’re all here to come together at BITAC® to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas to move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment.
Some interesting facts to consider courtesy of the National Restaurant Association: Forty-Five percent of adults say restaurants are essential to their lifestyle while 68 percent of adults said their favorite restaurant foods provide flavor and taste sensations which cannot easily be duplicated in their home kitchen. Further, 79 percent say going out with family or friends to restaurants gives them an opportunity to socialize and a more effective way for them to make use of leisure time rather than cooking and cleaning up.
Here is what BITAC® F&B attendees are thinking about all things food in 2014:
What types of ethnic foods are you focusing on at your property?
Chinese - 10.3%
Brazilian - 8.6%
Mexican - 41.4%
Other - 24.1%
Nothing but good ‘ole American favorites - 15.5%
How willing are diners to try new foods?
Very experimental with food - 33.3%
Will occasionally try something new - 60.5%
Crave the basics - 6.2%
Do you currently serve craft beers in your hotel?
We do, it’s a big success - 37.8%
Yes - 32.4%
No, but we’re thinking about it - 18.9%
No thanks, not for us - 10.8%
Are you getting more local when sourcing products?
We are actively sourcing local goods - 54.7%
We do it somewhat - 39.1%
We would like to but don’t know how - 6.3%
Do you see Gluten Free as an emerging yet important dining trend?
It will be massively important - 45.8%
Some people will care, but it won’t be huge - 37.5%
We are taking a wait and see approach - 12.5%
No way will this matter - 4.2%
Are you seeing a rise in vegetarian and specialty meals for banquet facilities?
We are seeing a definitive rise in requests - 51.3%
There is a small uptick - 34.6%
We have noticed it yet, but expect it to be big - 3.8%
This trend is overrated - 10.3%
Is the typical hotel restaurant diner more interested in eating only sustainable seafood?
Absolutely - 9.8%
They are moving in that direction and ordering more sustainable fish - 50.0%
They are curious about this but not impacting decisions - 28.0%
They don’t care. Bring on the Chilean Sea Bass - 12.2%
What type of ‘new’ cuisine are you seeing kids more interested in eating?
Salads - 26.0%
Tacos - 58.4%
Vegetarian meals - 15.6%
How willing are diners to try new foods?
Very experimental with food - 24.3%
Will occasionally try something new - 73.0%
Crave the basics - 2.7%