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Is F&B the new black for hospitality?

The booking platform dedicated to the restaurant industry The Fork, indicates in its annual review 2021 the appeal of the French for the restaurant industry. As soon as the restaurants reopened on June 9, the properties recorded a boom in reservations 16% higher than those of 2019 at the same period.

F&B offer increasingly embraced by hoteliers

The majority of flagships currently being developed or recently opened offer a strong food and beverage offering, a key factor in the property's attractiveness.

Accor continues to develop its restaurant offer, attracting awards and talent. Michelin-starred Chef Mauro Collagreco joins The OWO at Raffles London. The reopening of the Pullman Paris Montparnasse Hotel is also an opportunity to launch in Europe the Umami Burger concept from partner group sbe and Fi'lia, also from the United States. The Umami Burger offers accessible cuisine from midday to late evening without interruption with a click & collect offer.
The Mercure brand was also strongly positioned by sponsoring the 13th season of Top Chef, a show watched live by more than 2.8 million viewers in France for the third episode and which attracted 4.6 million viewers for the first episode of this season 13.

Rooftops and terraces are also being developed in urban areas to attract other customer profiles by offering highly Instagrammable locations and the possibility of eating outdoors, a key expectation during a pandemic.

Louvre Hotel Group has also put gastronomy in the spotlight with the opening in 2020 of its culinary university Chaud Devant! Annual competitions, events and cooking classes will showcase local produce at this university located in the Rungis market.

As for the Thai company Minor International, it has brought in partners from Corbin & King Limited, operator of several renowned restaurants in London, as directors. The group has a food branch with more than 2,300 restaurants around the world. An ideal position to find synergies with its hotel offer.

The French group EVOK Collection has paid great attention to the restaurant concepts present in its properties since its creation. Placing the F&B business at the heart of its value creation strategy.

The takeaway boom

Dark kitchens have flourished during lockdown periods, offering their customers the feeling of not eating at home while tasting restaurant-style dishes. A concept that the French Not So Dark intends to drastically evolve around two axes. Through the internationalization of the brand that sets foot in Belgium in this month of March 2022 but also the development of a franchise system.

The company launched in 2016 by Clément Benoit and Alexandre Haggai has raised 20 million euros in 2021 and is preparing a new round of financing. It offers 150 dark kitchens in France and distributes 7 brands positioned from street food to healthy, through comfort food like couscous. This offer has allowed restaurant owners to maintain their activity during administrative closures and more and more of them are being seduced, as shown by the 30% monthly increase in turnover announced by the company.

The development of market halls and other foodcourts attests to the attraction of tourists, day-trippers and residents for local products. A strong indicator of this attractiveness, the tourist offices of Savoie Mont Blanc emphasize that the first demand of their customers, outside the winter vacation periods, is information on the markets.

The trend towards ready-made meals and takeaways is accentuated by the practices of generations Y and Z, who consume differently than their elders, considering the restaurant offer in a less binary way than previous generations, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2022 report.

A necessary adaptation of service

In addition to the development of the takeaway offer, restaurant owners have had to develop new habits. Control of the health pass and the development of contactless payment have spread throughout the properties.

The simple comme numérique (simple as digital) platform resulting from the France Relance program brings together partners such as METRO France and the ECTI-AJI grouping to support the digital transition of restaurant owners. This service is free for the beneficiary and is financed by the France Relance fund.

Interfacing with home delivery platforms for the largest markets raised some questions about the working conditions of the delivery staff.

"As digitalization becomes more and more democratized, we've seen how much not only restaurants, but also grocery stores and convenience stores need streamlined online order management to meet customer satisfaction, especially among Millennials and Generation Z shoppers," said Zhong Xu, co-founder and CEO of Deliverect, a platform that connects restaurateurs and delivery services.

The development of click & collect is also growing rapidly including for restaurants in hotels.

Sebastian Duesterhoeft, General Partner at Coatue Management LLC, points out: The multi-billion dollar restaurant technology market is being driven by multiple transformations. These include a shift in consumer habits related to the ongoing pandemic, the need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of delivery channels, and changes in retail foodservice such as dark kitchens and virtual restaurant brands.

Towards more sustainable food

The Collectif de l’alimentation durable pour tous (Sustainable Food for All Collective) formed on March 3, 2022 to weigh in on the French presidential campaign. During the public sharing of their 10 proposals to the candidates, they recalled several fundamental key figures to be taken into account in the context of consumer expectations. The 2018 Food 360 study indicated that 63% of respondents said they wanted to eat healthy, 90% asked for products that respect the environment and 73% felt that farmers are not paid fairly. These are pre-crisis COVID 19 figures that have necessarily increased given the rapid evolution of consumer expectations on these topics.

The Accor group has made "eat" one of the four pillars of its sustainable development strategy. Waste management, seasonal and local products, and a reduction in the number of meat products on menus are at the heart of the actions implemented to ensure a more sustainable restaurant offering. This approach goes as far as raising customer awareness on these issues.

Through its Majorian service, launched at the end of January 2022, the Les Collectionneurs network offers three levels of Clorofil certification, open to members of the network as well as to other independent hotel and restaurant owners. This label certifies sustainable management in the properties.

The F&B offer is now clearly identified as a profit center by hoteliers. More and more of them are interested in it, and are also offering an increasingly extensive bar service.

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