Breakfast is an important event. We know this moment is crucial for guests. We notice its positive or negative impact, rarely neutral, on our e-reputation. Its content, its quality, its identity doesn’t flow naturally. We often think about how it evolves and how to diversify it. When opening a business, it is sometimes a blank slate. Rest assured : this is completely normal. We are hotelkeepers and not restaurateurs.
• • • • • • • •
This article and the two forthcoming answer the topics:
– What content for my breakfast? (# 1).
– What level of quality to commit to? (# 2).
– What rate to apply? (# 3).
At the end of this article regarding the content of a breakfast, you will be able to easily identify the favorable foods. The suggested method is based on:
- Your guests (nationalities and leisure-business segmentation).
- Your hotel classification.
- Your ability to make your client travel…to your local setting.
1. Your guests
Breakfast is, above all, a matter of taste. Remember trips outside sweet France. What are your breakfast experiences? Good surprises, of course, discoveries, astonishment to tell and share. You might also remember breakfasts that were less to your taste, such as sock water coffee in the US, very sweet pastries in Portugal, raw fish in Japan.
The breakfast of a traveler is a delicate balance between their daily routine and their curiosity about the destination. Our guests are delighted to taste our croissants, that they dreamed about. They still have eating habits and an attachment to their homemade breakfast. Taking this factors into consideration allows them to feel at home. They cherish our baguette and they have their experience.
Let’s start by building our content. Starting from our database -> Guests -> “Nationalities”. I suggest a PMS extraction on an annual basis and over the last three years. You get the list and top nationalities. Some hotels will clearly see one nationality stand out, others will note two. When two clienteles prevail, we can combine them in our mix according to their proportion. If a clientele clearly stands out, I suggest you favor it.
Tastes are changing, and establishing a food listing by nationality is utopian. There are many informative blogs and websites (thought the methodology is questionable) on the likes and dislikes of Europeans, Chinese and Americans when it comes to breakfast. They are inspiring if we refer to the idea rather than following them by the book. Overall, there is a clear trend among the Chinese, the Danes, the English for savory breakfasts; among the French, the Italians who have a preference for sweet; and the Americans, the Spanish, the English combine salty and sweet flavors.
I am a Parisian hotelkeeper, my clientele is predominantly Chinese. I have seen it in my operations, and my PMS confirms. I research the likes and dislikes of my top nationality on the internet. I don’t hesitate to interview my open-minded clients to corroborate. I take note of their tastes first: Chinese people drink a lot of green tea and soy milk in the morning. In China, they eat primarily salty flavors (noodles, tofu, egg pancakes, stuffed breads, etc.). I also note their dislikes: the Chinese are put off by strong cheese. They have a clear preference for processed cheese like gouda and mozzarella. Finally, I take note of the evolution of their tastes: the Chinese seem to appreciate more and more dairy products, thus sweetening their usual breakfast.
Armed with this intel, I put together a realistic breakfast content. I offer a variety of hot drinks (including green tea for the Chinese without excluding black tea), I add soy milk, which my other customers will also appreciate. For side dishes, I don’t know how to make tofu pudding or dim sum, let alone stir-fried noodles. On the other hand, my omelet (which I can garnish with mushrooms, tomatoes) is quite similar to the traditional egg pancake. I offer additional savory dishes: potato salad, tomato-mozzarella salad. I noticed that a majority of customers are starting to appreciate yogurt. I favor cow milk rather than goat milk that has a strong smell. Finally, here in Paris, my strengths are my fresh bread and my pastries. I add them to my buffet to satisfy all of my customers.
This is a personal experience.
When I was manager at COQ Hôtel, most of the clientele was domestic. When I opened, I didn’t have a database to identify my nationalities, so I surveyed the establishments in my neighborhood. (#vide statistics). I put my focus on typical French taste products. (remember: the sweet). There were three large jars of jams, cottage cheese, muesli, dried fruit, pastries and fruit at the buffet. The cheese and ham platters satisfied our other customers, especially Americans. The coffee, specially dosed for the COQ, was a 100% Arabica blend to our taste for strong coffees, without necessarily being too strong.
Business / Leisure segmentation
I will not dwell on this paragraph, because this subject is mastered by hotelkeepers.
A few notes:
If you have a predominantly leisure clientele, I recommend room service. Breakfast time is too mush of a hassle to getting ready and be presentable when we are on vacation. We have plenty of time to go about our business and we are taking it.
If Corporates dominate your segmentation, I recommend adding an “express” breakfast. When we travel for business, priority is the timing of our meetings. The express breakfast (hot drink, pastries, fresh juice), more and more widespread, is an excellent adjustment to the constraints of customers in a hurry. This formula, which defies setup time, has the advantage of starting earlier for morning departures.
Either way, breakfast for kids is a must, as parents (your guests) are affected. In addition, you free them from the worry of paying a full priced breakfast and allow them to enjoy it. (compote, fruit juice, yogurt, cereals for example, all organic).
I copied in italic the Atout France Control Guide that refer to these points.
Article 203. Buffet or à la carte breakfast exceeding the threshold of the range of products
Minimum number of product ranges 1 * = 6 ranges
Minimum number of product ranges 2 * = 8 ranges
Minimum number of product ranges 3 * = 10 ranges
Minimum number of product ranges 4 * = 12 ranges
Minimum number of product ranges 5 * = 14 ranges
Minimum presence of two products per range in 1 *, 2 *, 3 *, 4 *.
Minimum presence of three products per range in category 5 *.
Are you a 4 * establishment? A minimum of 12 ranges are to be expected. You can add one line, or even two, but you cannot offer less. Doubling the products in a single range is necessary, from 1 * to 4 *. For example, if you offer charcuterie (delicatessen) in 3 *, you offer ham and Bayonne ham. In 5 *, 3 ranges are required: you present ham, Bayonne ham and bacon.
Additional points count: at least two products regionally produced or from fair trade or organic farming, breakfast service on the terrace, breakfast room service.
3. Your Identity
With a realistic observation of your nationalities, you positioned the basic ingredients for your breakfast. You have listed the content in range to comply with your classification.
Once the basics of guest expectations and classification have been mastered, draw your identity around this moment. Improvise and positively surprise your guests. Spread the DNA of your establishment on this sweet meal!
This is a personal experience. The COQ’s philosophy was to offer guests a “just like home” experience. The presentation of the buffet was based on the generosity of a friendly and family breakfast, the products were presented quite elegantly but in bulk, the jars and the dishes recalled home. Except for the butter (I should have gone for the big clod at the time ..), nothing was packaged nor echoed “hotel breakfast”. It was a “breakfast at home”set up.
If your hotel theme is Paris, opt for macaroons. If your hotel is arty, opt for explosive muffins! Each hotel is unique and it’s your touch that your guest expects at their first meal of the day.
The Database: The Cardex’s are regularly updated in terms of nationalities and customer segmentation. I suggest you assign to the staff a predefined segmentation in the PMS: during the check in, a display parameterized by default of the Corporate segments, to change if necessary in Leisure, and beyond our subject: Individual to change if necessary in Groups, Indirect to change if necessary to Direct.
Have a conversation with your staff about breakfasts around the world, especially those that marked you the most. By researching or traveling, the staff will make the link to understanding the concern for satisfaction.
Feed of feedback
In our post-stay surveys, replace the question “Were you satisfied with the breakfast” with two questions: “What components of the breakfast appealed to you the most? “,” What would you like to have for breakfast? (Indirectly asking what did you miss). Offer a free text response to then flag by product range: fresh fruit, pastries .., then by type: hot dish, cold dish, by flavor: sweet, salty …
We can now offer a tailored breakfast to our customers, in accordance with our identity and the category of the establishment.
Article # 2 will be dedicated to the “quality” of breakfast.
See you next week.