When I started working as general manager of a hotel in Thailand, we recognised that our restaurant revenues and average spend per in-house guest were below expectations.
We created a task force team to find out what the problems were and to assess the current business process. We knew we had a great food product, talented chefs, a well thought of beverage offer and very good service from the waiting and bar tender teams. The restaurant had a very nice atmosphere and also catered to guests at the swimming pool and in room dining.
It turned out very quickly that one of the challenges was language and communication between guests and employees.
Most of the employees were Thai and the hotel guests were typically Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hong Kong, Russian, French, German and English.
We therefore used digital technology to create a new business process, with multi-lingual restaurant menus and ordering, combined with training the teams in upselling.
We revised our menu offer and decided that we would design the menu like a newspaper with different columns such as appetisers, main courses and desserts as well as food categories such as Asian, European, artisan, high tea, juices, mocktails, cocktails, wine, spirits, beer etc.
There was also a section within the digital ordering system where we could ask guests for their cooking preferences and check if they had any allergies.
In addition to the technology, we created incentives such as special happy hour offers, and added hotel promotions like room upgrades, early bird spa discount, fitness yoga classes, cooking classes and transportation.
Finally, we allocated advertising space and went to different companies and suppliers to sell the space for 12 months with the agreement to update the menu quarterly.
We took professional pictures of every dish and drink, then had everything professionally translated to Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russia, French, German, Thai and English.
Then we printed the menus in English and Thai with QR codes that allowed the guests to download the menu in their respective languages.
At the restaurant and pool, we also provided tablets for guests to review the menu if they didn’t have their phones on them and ensured that guests could also view the menus via the TV in their room, or by scanning the QR code on printed copies.
Within the first week of implementation, revenues went up by 30%, and we maintained this level over the long term. In fact, the restaurant and bars became so popular that we had to restructure our service sequence to cater for so many guests.
We also made a profit from the advertising money collected which more than covered the costs of the photograph, translations, menu tastings and printing.
Service charges and tips increased, which helped to contribute to a rise in employee satisfaction, as well guest satisfaction.
We used the digital menu for constant advertising and promotions online and via our social media.
In total, the incremental average spent per guest at the spa, fitness center, transportation and for room upgrades rose by 15%.