Restaurants and hotels spend huge amounts of money on marketing through expensive advertising and PR-led campaigns. Hoteliers/restaurateurs devote time and effort to training the kitchen and service teams, however typically they pay little attention that their non F&B teams which play a vital marketing role in their business. In this article by John Wood, we look at the importance of internal menu marketing.
RecommendationsImagine the scenario: A couple stay in a hotel. They are new to the city, and they are trying to decide where to head out to for dinner for the evening. They look for advice and recommendations on where to eat. As guests, they will often seek the opinion of hotel staff first and foremost… Remember that non F&B teams come into contact with guests and customers all the time and can often be asked to recommend somewhere to eat. They should be primed to sell your product ie your menus. We’re talking, among others, of:
- housekeeping staff
- cleaning staff
- night porters
USPBefore you can teach your staff how to sell your restaurant, you need to get one thing sorted yourself. You need to decide, absolutely, what makes your establishment unique and then be able to sum this up in one or two sentences. This is called your unique selling point (USP) and it should answer this question: Why do customers come and dine with you in preference to anyone else? Once you have understood what your USP is you need to make sure that your menu(s) reflect this at all times. Don’t stray from what is, in effect, your branding. Both your current status/image and the quality of what you want to be should be projected on your menu as it is your tool to pull in regulars and attract new customers. Once your USP and menus are sorted, you are ready to train your teams. NB – serving fresh seasonal food is NOT enough to constitute a USP! This should be a given. Give them confidence. Give your front of house teams the knowledgebase by giving them access to current menus and recipes, so that they can quickly answer any guest’s enquiry about a particular menu item. They can easily access menus, dish information, ingredients and allergen information by using Kitchen CUT.
Steps to Staff Knowledge: tips from the top operatorsDanny Meyer, the New York restaurateur par excellence (his 12-restaurant Union Square Hospitality Group includes the iconic Union Square Cafe and Grammercy Tavern) has repeatedly gone on the record saying that every member of staff, even the pot washer, needs to know about the menu and the restaurant – and, very importantly, they all need to have eaten in the restaurant in which they work.
Michael CainesChef-patron Gidleigh Park, Devon; partner and director, ABode hotels “The reality is that every member of staff, be they receptionists or concierges, need to have a deep understanding about what the restaurant is about. The awareness has to be about the style of food, the menu, what the restaurant has to offer. Obviously it’s hard to train a reception team, for instance, to the same level as the restaurant staff but at Gidleigh we make a conscious effort to ensure that food and beverage is at the heart of what we do. In our smaller ABode properties, it’s perhaps easier to achieve that. We make sure a copy of the menu is on the reception and the reception staff are trained to know what the restaurant has to offer. We like to empower our staff. We do menu tasting, but not for non f&b staff. We offer a 25% discount on family and friends to the staff. I’d like to think if we did have a problem that we would consider making sure that non f&b staff would be able to experience the food in the restaurant as obviously its easier to sell something if you’ve physically appreciated it. Do we do enough in that area – maybe not.”
Andre GarrettExec chef, Cliveden “Internal menu marketing is extremely important. We work hard to train everyone on the menu, right down to commis waiters. They get regular menu tastings and full on training on a constant basis. They are always on the floor so it’s important they are trained to a good standard and know about the menus. You can never do enough of that sort of training. They need to know what we’re offering. It’s extremely important.”
Quick CribIn short, to maximise marketing your restaurant via your teams:
- make sure all your members of staff – and you yourself – have experienced the complete guest journey: from making a booking, to eating in the restaurant;
- either do regular menu tastings for all non F&B staff OR give them a discount to eat in the restaurant;
- test them on their knowledge;
- make sure there are copies of the restaurant menu available at hotel receptions/concierge desks/lobbies/lounge bars etc and make sure the teams understand everything on them. Perhaps also have an ‘internal menu’ with information and descriptions of key dishes to allow them to be more descriptive when talking to guests (either digitally via something like Kitchen CUT where they can access up to date information, or via hard copy).