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Perpetual snacking

Thanks to longer, power-packed workdays and our penchant for mobility, “doing lunch” has disappeared from many agendas. Instead, smaller bites that are easily consumed while on the run are trending higher than ever, thus the reason grab-and-go “snacks” are one of today’s hottest lifestyle trends.

Grazing and eating quickly has perpetuated the need for specialty retailers — and hotels — to either expand or ramp-up their snack offering with more attractive and healthier options. Think local, artisan or healthier products that pique curiosity with great packaging and palatable prices. Food and beverage trend watchers have been keeping an eye on petite and bite-sized snacks ever since they received a good push from the food-on-a-stick concept, which trended high a few years ago before going mainstream.

A majority of the grab-and-go stocked cubbyholes occupying hotel lobbies are long overdue for some TLC, as they’ve often been sitting dormant while renovations occurred in other areas of the property. These stark setups frequently filled with convenience-store brands were often propped up with complimentary signage dropped off by suppliers or distributors, and the task of overseeing these retail items was typically the late-night shift duty if and when time permitted. Typically located adjacent to the front desk or a no-frills, limited-service coffee bar, these retail areas are being addressed and refreshed with updated products. Many now include artisan delights and local fare.

My crystal ball is seeing well-known and traditional snack items offered by the big-box distributors losing ground as hospitality rides the new snack generation being birthed from the grab-and-go wave. Your purchasing team will need to source via new and creative channels, which are abundant with new options. The same dedication invested to source an in-room amenity program should truly be mirrored for the next generation of grab-and-go. Upgrading your offering is not about “if,” but is instead a matter of when your property will need to adopt the same improvements that have been taking place at specialty retailers for several years. In fact, to a certain degree, I would view it as yet another guest-retention tool.

One helpful hint is to remember that guests expect their snacking opportunity to be equal if not better than the products, brands and lines found in the traditional grocery channel. The package needs to be unique enough to spark the initial interest and the product must travel well, not be mass-merchandised, be quick and easy to eat and merchandised with boutique-like flair and in smaller stock levels. And the product must rate at least an 8 on the tasting scale of 1-10, and if it doesn’t have a dose of healthy appeal, it must be a 10!

The best grab-and-go programs can also be viewed as a segment of your marketing pie. With perpetual snacking being a strong lifestyle trend, it carries the potential of elevating or hindering the satisfaction of guests who clearly have less time to lounge or dine, which is creating a stronger need to buy more frequently and on the run. The last observation you want to encounter is your guest leaving the main entrance to invest their grab-and-go dollars at the coffee shop next to your property.

After a year-long instant oatmeal fetish, my most recent snack obsession has become a Northern California delight: Somersault Nuggets, which are made with seeds instead of nuts. I’m curious to know what your snack obsession is. Would it appeal to your most discriminating guest or have the potential to spike your satisfaction ratings? Chime in and let us know!

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