When FoodIs Crowned
By Trung Chau
In the current difficult times when room occupancy is not as high as expected, many hotels try to boost their business with food and beverages
According to Do Thi Hong Xoan, president of the Vietnam Hospitality Association, there are now some 13,000 hotels nationwide, 425 of which are luxury, rating from three to five stars. Only luxury hotels obtain revenues from various streams such as room occupancy, food and beverages (F&B), meetings and health care, of which the first two usually make the most money.
Crown for F&B
A typical luxury hotel has three restaurants, consisting of an international buffet restaurant, a restaurant serving specialties from around the world and a fine-dining restaurant. So, in total there are some 1,275 restaurants from the luxury hotels. Xoan and other industry representatives say that business from the F&B section makes up 30-40% of a hotel’s total revenue.
Hospitality experts also say that when the business from room occupancy, whose guests are mainly business people and delegations, has not been as good as expected over the past two years, revenues from the F&B section have increased, making up 50% of a hotel’s total income in some periods.
To attract more diners, hotels have enriched food and beverage programs, launched dining promotions and invited well-known chefs from around the world to perform cooking workshops.
John Gardner, general manager of Caravelle Hotel, says that the hotel has recently run approximately 20-30 F&B promotions between the different outlets each year. “Actually we had good business in 2010 and the first months of 2011,” he adds. “We have had good F&B business and this has increased a lot since last year. However, our most difficult area is controlling our operational costs, especially food costs, which are increasing dramatically.”
Meanwhile, Joerg Becker, executive chef of New World Hotel Saigon, told the Weekly that this year the challenges due to price escalation and the exchange rate are reflected in the hotel’s room occupancy. So the hotel only expects a moderate revenue increase in the F&B section thanks to increasing the number of local customers and MICE (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) guests. “Our hotel offers approximately 6-10 food promotions per year,” Becker says.
An unavoidable trend?
Duong Bao, director of Duong Huynh Advertising Co., usually dines at five-star hotels’ restaurants in HCM City. She says that every week, there is at least one food promotion at a hotel, so the restaurants attract a lot of Vietnamese diners.
Among hotels polled in a recent survey by Grant Thornton, 42.6% said that they had plans to expand or improve facilities and services, including F&B, within the next two years. In these plans, four- and five-star hotels are going to introduce more services.