Move over, Starbucks. Looks like you’re not the only game in town. At the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay-Downtown hotel, guests can now enjoy the offerings of Dunkin’ Donuts and sister brand Baskin-Robbins without leaving the premises. Located inside the hotel lobby, the combination restaurant that opened this month serves a variety of baked goods, coffee, sandwiches, and snacks along with ice cream and frozen beverages.
While not the first venture by the doughnut chain into the hotel arena, the move represents a more comprehensive approach than in the past, according to Grant Benson, vice president of franchising and business development for Dunkin’. “This full representation inside the venue offers real advantages,” he says. Benson notes that for guests who lack local transportation or simply don’t want to venture outside, the grab-and-go nature of the operation offers a convenient option that complements the hotel’s other food and beverage services. “It allows the hotel to give people what they want when they want it. And they don’t have to go out of their way to get it.”
The availability of a familiar brand can also prove attractive to hotel guests, Benson adds. That has been the case at several Great Wolf Lodge resorts, according to Chris Hammond, corporate director of food and beverage. With Dunkin’ Donuts locations at its properties in Concord, N.C., Williamsburg, Va., and Traverse City, Mich., Great Wolf has seen a healthy increase in food and beverage revenues. “We have seen an approximate 10 percent total increase in revenue, but just a 3 percent dilution in our other restaurants,” Hammond says. “It has been a win-win for our guests and for our operation.”
For others considering adding such an option, he recommends taking six full months from the start of process to opening day. “We found that having one dedicated person for construction, one for handling the franchise paperwork side of things, and then three people to operate the store has worked well for us,” Hammond says. He adds that the three team members who will run the store should have four to five weeks of training before taking on full operations. “The partnership has been a great one. It involved a lot of communication and teamwork on both sides but once all those details were ironed out, the opening process has been pretty smooth.”
Benson says flexibility is basic to his company’s plans in working with hotels. Opportunities exist with Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins individually or as combination units, and sites can be designed to address local needs. “Our concept design, image, menu, and footprint can flex nicely to match the nuances of different venues,” he says. “We can design a site that would play well in any type of lodging venue that has sufficient traffic and access.”
At the same time, Benson acknowledges that this type of arrangement may not be ideal for everyone. “Obviously space is an issue,” he says. “And how this will compete with other food and beverage options needs to be looked at. But this is certainly one way to meet guest demands.”