Study shows guests seek out free offerings

It’s not just the amenities guests pay for, but also the complimentary offerings they don’t that influence consumers’ selection of one hotel over another.

A study by Chicago-based Technomic released on Wednesday indicates that when choosing a hotel, consumers say complimentary offerings such as breakfast and in-room coffee are more important to them than other amenities.

Overall, 40% of business and leisure guests say that foodservice offerings are very important to their choice of hotel. They prefer hotels with a casual-dining restaurant, a bar or lounge, and an extensive room service menu. For many midscale, economy and extended-stay hotels, foodservice is largely defined by the complimentary breakfast.

“Complimentary breakfast is often viewed as a drain on revenues,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. “However, it’s an offering consumers are seeking out when they look over hotel options. It drives traffic and enhances the guest experience.”

The report was developed by Technomic to help hotel and foodservice executives understand consumer preferences associated with hotel foodservice.

The study showed 24% of business travelers order room service while only 12% of leisure travelers do, and that 34% of business travelers and 25% of leisure travelers are traveling more this year than two years ago. The latter figure was driven by an increased amount of younger travelers.

“Understanding the needs and preferences of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34, while also being mindful of the expectations of the older, more established customer base will be important in driving future business and building brand loyalty,” Sara Monnette, director of consumer research at Technomic said. “Appealing to younger consumers may require offering expanded amenities and foodservice options that go beyond the mainstream, such as healthy grab-n-go or ethnic cuisine that boasts unique and bold flavor profiles.”

The study also found that tapas-style food offerings in hotel lobbies and lounges are on the increase. In addition, hotel catering programs are differentiating themselves through themed carts and on-site food preparation.

While the location of a hotel is the leading consideration for consumers when deciding where to stay for leisure and business travel, many consumers, especially females, also cite amenities as an important consideration in their choice of hotel.

“Consumers today are increasingly value-conscious and expect more from a hotel than just a place to spend the night; they look to hotels to provide them with a unique experience from check-in to check-out,” Monnette said.