A unique culinary offering will be a vital component of any successful hospitality business in the post Covid-19 world, José Silva has argued.
Addressing delegates during the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF), the Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts chief executive said guest expectations were changing, and hotels must change along with them.
“If you look at the last 20 years, you will notice there has been an abundance of celebrity chefs and signature restaurant brands coming onto the market, all of which have been showcased on social media.
“Engagement with food and beverage in the hotel sector has grown, and it will continue to do so in the future – this is an important space to be involved in.
“Delivering extraordinary food is one of the most difficult things to do, so if you are able to do so, it creates a huge barrier to entry to competitors
“We are not the only brand to have taken this route, to focus on food, but others have worked with third parties and this can cost five-to-ten per cent of revenue.
“If you are an owner, working with us at Jumeirah, we are able to bring the restaurants and the revenue as well.”
Silva has been vocal about placing food and beverage at the heart of the Jumeirah offering, and was speaking from Sal, a chic new lifestyle experience at Burj Al Arab.
Headed up and launched by chef Roberto Rispoli, the location will offer mouth-watering flavours from the Iberian peninsula, with a tantalising menu of sea-inspired dishes designed for sharing and bursting with authentic flavours.
Speaking to Richard Dean, director of Roar Interior Design, Silva continued: “A lot of people question, why food?
“For us, the future is about identity-led experiences, something that is unique and special for the guest.
“From a hotel perspective, food and beverage accounts for more than 50 per cent of the client interaction time, so the experience a guest has while dining is very important.
“It is a strong differentiator.
“It is also a third of our revenue, and if you introduce an exceptional restaurant you can triple the profit.
“But, even more important than the profit and guest satisfaction, a restaurant is a unique selling point – it positions the hotel differently and allows you to develop market share.
“This in turn this drives occupancy and rate – driving up the total profitability of any hotel.”
Silva also made the case that a hotel company should develop culinary concepts in house, in order to achieve the best results.
He added: “If you do not have your own band, you will have to work with secondary players, and you will have to pay for it – so in many ways developing your own experience cuts down the risks.
“But it does take daily love, daily care - to make it work, its takes chefs with the patience of artists.”
Silva, right, spoke to Richard Dean at the Burj al Arab earlier
GRIF is this year taking place alongside AHIC on the Road from Bench Events, a new digital show designed to allow the hospitality sector to come together safely in the Covid-19 era.
Commenting on the impact of the virus, Silva said: “We are all considering what is life going to be like after Covid-19 and working out that this is one of the great resets in life.
“It will fast-track any trend that was going on, and what we are seeing is that we are all permanently connected.
“We are now merging out private lives and our business lives; we have moments of family, social and business within our day.
“For the hotel industry, this means you have to cater to business travellers with family, or offer resort trips with elements of business.
“It is a permanent melting pot, a conversation between the two worlds.”
Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, a member of Dubai Holding, operates a portfolio of 26 properties comprising more than 6,500 key across eight countries.
Known for exceptional service and unexpected ‘stay different’ hotels, including the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the award-winning luxury hospitality group prides itself on three core pillars: service beyond expectation, surprising product design and architecture and sublime dining experiences.
Discover more about the company, here.