What’s Cookin’?

Along with the millions of travelers that pass through hotel doors each day comes a multitude of breakfast preferences. Trying to satisfy everyone’s taste is a challenge, which is why breakfast programs must constantly evolve to meet guest expectations.

Ron Pohl, senior vice president of brand management and member services for Best Western, says the availability of breakfast, especially when it’s free, is often a deciding factor when guests choose a hotel.

Best Western members vote every spring on changes to the brand’s breakfast program. Now that the brand has a three-tiered product descriptor program, it will have three separate breakfast programs with different requirements. For instance, Best Western Premier hotels, which compete in the upper-midscale market, will offer fresh fruit toppings for cereals and require fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Patti Javer, food and beverage manager for Holiday Inn Express, says a successful breakfast program requires convenience, quality foods, and consistency between properties. Most recently, the brand added pancake machines at every Holiday Inn Express hotel in the United States and Canada. 

“Adjustments are made to the breakfast bar whenever necessary to keep up with the demands of our corporate and leisure travelers,” Javer says of the brand’s Express Start program. “We are continuously tracking the needs of the guests and make modifications based on demand.”

In addition to the quality and quantity of products being offered, Pohl says vital components are the presentation of these items to customers each morning and the presence of attendants or managers who can listen to feedback and develop relationships. “Customers eat with their eyes first,” Pohl says. “If it looks good, that’s their initial impression. If it doesn’t, they’ll oftentimes skip it or have a negative impression of the hotel.”

For leisure travelers, waffles and pancakes remain among the most popular items with adults and children, Pohl says. “The beauty of those things is that they’re less expensive from an operations perspective,” he adds. Waffles are less than 25 cents each, he says, while pastries can cost two or three times more.

Breakfast is a high priority opportunity to market to and connect with customers, as well as build loyalty. “It might cost $4 or $5 per occupied room,” Pohl says, “but it’s better than finding new customers.”