Many Americans consider breakfast the most important meal of the day, and are becoming more health conscious. For this reason, Ron Pohl, senior vice president of brand management and member services for Best Western International, says breakfast has been a key focus for many years in the hotel industry, especially in the midscale market.
For an upcoming article on breakfast bars and buffets (look for it in the September issue of Lodging), I inquired about the latest industry trends. What customers eat at home is often what they want on road.
Eggs remain popular, Pohl says, especially for exercise-minded guests who desire protein. Pohl also is seeing emerging trends with hot cereals, such as instant, pre-prepared and steel-cut oatmeal. Yogurt also continues to be a breakfast staple. For leisure travelers, waffles and pancakes are among the most popular items.
At Holiday Inn Express, the most popular items are traditional cinnamon rolls, hot foods, and pancakes, says Patti Javer, food and beverage manager for the brand. She agrees that healthy options are increasingly important to guests. Items available from its Express Start breakfast bar include yogurt, fruit, hard-boiled and cooked eggs, and breakfast meats that provide higher protein and fewer carbohydrates, as wells as some cereal selections.
Quality coffee will continue to be an important focus for travelers, Pohl says, which is why Best Western has raised its standards to require 100 percent Arabic or Colombian premium blends.
Health departments are becoming more involved with how hotels are preparing and storing food, certification of food safety, and sanitation. With that, Pohl is seeing more pre-packaged products, such a breakfast wraps and sandwiches, being offered by vendors that are of higher quality. This keeps costs down and reduces the chance of food safety concerns.
Best Western encourages local flair—what’s popular in Texas might not necessarily be what’s popular in Chicago. So while some locations might offer breakfast burritos others might feature biscuits and gravy. “We don’t want breakfast to be boring,” Pohl says. “We want consistency and quality, but it’s important to have a variety.”
Convenience is also paramount. The new “Your Morning” breakfast recently announced by Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites brands includes grab and go breakfast bags, available two hours before regular breakfast service times. It includes a granola or breakfast bar, bottled water, a whole fresh fruit item such as an apple, banana or orange, a napkin, and a mint.
Pohl considers breakfast to be a marketing strategy as well. One Best Western owner in Laredo, Texas, took the money he spent on local advertising and used it instead to enhance the breakfast program. The return was far greater. A Best Western Plus owner in Napa Valley started cooking waffles himself each morning and upgraded his products. Both owners have some of the highest guest satisfaction scores in the brand, Pohl says.
Since breakfast is often the last impression guests have of a hotel, it remains a high priority.
— Megan Sullivan, Managing Editor, Lodging