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Breakfast done right can be an asset

What is the first meal of the day and is usually the last meal a hotel guest experiences, before they check out in the morning? Breakfast of course! Hotels probably serve more breakfast than any other meal, and yet, in a full service hotel, it somehow does not seem to get the same degree of attention as lunch or dinner.


Is because providing free breakfast the reason for this laid-back approach, whereas lunch and dinner been more expensive meals require additional and skilled staff and resources? The “free” breakfast (which is advertised as “complimentary” is a misnomer since the cost to provide the meal is added into the cost of rooms).


There are exceptions though, and they can include not only the upscale hotels that go to great lengths to enable their guests to fuel up for their day of sightseeing or business meetings, but also the lowly ranked ‘bed and breakfast’ operations that put in a lot more attention, since it’s the only meal they provide.


As hotel restaurants increasingly take on a life and soul of their own, it can be easy to forget that breakfast remains the most popular meal for its guests. But expecting hotel guests to patronise their restaurants can backfire if the breakfast offered by the very same hotel disappoints. Remember, you’re only as good as your last offering.


All too often breakfast is used as a training ground for new or inexperienced service staff. I frequently experience waiting staff at breakfast that have little more than a basic understanding of what’s available and, if I may dare say, the inability to communicate properly. 


What one observes at most hotels are the policing of guests who go to have breakfast at the restaurant. Usually it is a gruff request for ones room number, with absolutely no eye contact as the hostess checks their list. I was once told ‘its self-service’ when I asked the hostess at the doorway “what type of breakfast do you serve? “. Such staff have been trained to treat hotel guests as customers – and the Oxford dictionary defines a customer as a “A person whom one has to deal with” unlike in a well-run operation where guests are treated, as defined by the same dictionary as “One whom you would treat with respect and hospitality as if they were a visitor in your own home”.


Research done reveals that over 90% of guests have breakfast at home. With that in mind, at any breakfast buffet, customers will naturally look for food which meets their expectations. For example, international customers will prefer to have access to a hot and cold buffet with savory products. In hotels that have many guests from Asia, Indians for instance, waffles, pancakes, cold cuts and French toast is food they may not be accustomed to in their daily lives. Finding a little bit of what they eat at home, can add to their breakfast joy. Some hotels get it; others don’t…or simply don’t care.


However, even in hotels where I find a balanced selection of quality food on the buffet, it irks me to find myself in front of a buffet, searching desperately for the tag, not knowing what an item is, whilst the queue behind me shuffles impatiently. Why is it so hard for some hotels to display clear food labeling?


Another thing that I miss seeing nowadays is the Manager of the hotel walking the floor. There is nothing like the host of the house welcoming his or her guests.


Make your breakfasts memorable, for the right reasons, and leave your guests relaxed with a positive last impression – the sum of which adds up as a powerful incentive to come back.


Ilzaf Keefahs is a freelance writer who enjoys focusing on hospitality related matters that he is passionate about, and likes to share his views with hoteliers and customers alike. He delves into the heart of hospitality to figure out both customer service and consumer trends that impact the industry



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