Andrew Freeman, the president of Andrew Freeman & Co. (natch) a San Francisco boutique agency specializing in hospitality and restaurant marketing, has just released his eerily spot-on (if last year was any indication) 2010 Trend Watch List predictions of the good, the bad and the downright ugly restaurant/hotel trends we can look forward to next year.
The 2010 Trend Watch List was developed by AF&Co. from a combination of close industry observation, coast-to-coast travel, discussions with industry experts, meetings with hotel and restaurant clients, press contacts, conferences attended and media sources, and a lot of gut instinct as an industry veteran.
AF&Co.’s annual Trend List, now in its third year, has quickly become an industry standard in anticipating market demands and consumer feedback.
WHAT ARE THE TOP TRENDS FOR 2010 ACCORDING TO ANDREW FREEMAN?
Putting Off the Ritz – Keep it simple! Forgo the finery for now. Keep ambiance, service, and menu items simple and comfortable. Hotels can lose some of the in-room amenities; restaurants take a more casual approach with less white linen, simpler tableware and less decoration. Less is more, but choose wisely.
Examples: 400 thread count sheets are fine, and when it comes to relaxation, a good cotton robe goes a lot farther than a silk throw.
The Magic Touch – Hotels and restaurants operate touch-screen interfaces for check-in, placing orders end user-guided guest education. Everything is paid for with the swipe of a card. Reach out and touch someone.
Examples: Incentient electronic winelist at SD26 (New York, NY) and for in-room guest service in-face Ritz Carlton in Moscow; Virgin Air snackbar; Stanford Court Hotel touchscreen tourist maps (San Francisco, CA)
Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner – Create cache by offering guests something special and inviting. Celebrity yoga instructors, chefs, actors, singers, masseurs, bartenders and designers visit and do what they do well. Restaurants host Guest Chef Nights and visiting bartenders come in once a week or for a week at a time. Pop-up restaurant appearances expand outreach and help build support. Guest experts are great for sales and public relations.
Examples: The Tides Zihuatanejo’s Yoga Retreats with celebrity instructor Tom Morley (Zihuatanejo, Mexico); Tastemaker Dinners at étoile at Domaine Chandon (Yountville, CA)
Reality Bites – Bring reality TV to real life whether it is culinary showdowns in restaurants or behind the scenes glimpses into running an outlet in the hospitality business.
Examples: Sommelier Smackdown at Fifth Floor (San Francisco, CA); Deathmatch dinners (Portland, ME)
There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch– Bring in guests by giving out. Hotels offer added services at no charge. Restaurants drink up the profits by keeping guests on site and happily hydrated from beverage purchases.
Examples: River Terrace Inn offers guests complimentary DVD rentals, bikes and bottled water (Napa, CA); Palio D’Asti provides free pizza during happy hour (San Francisco, CA)
Everything Old is Indeed New Again – It’s the revival. Old-school ambiance rich with historical significance enrich hotels. While restaurants return to “classic” salad dressings and dips: blue cheese, green goddess, thousand island and louis dressing or pimento cheese and onion dip. Let’s go retro.
Examples: Hotel Shattuck Plaza (Berkeley, CA); Shrimp cocktail with green goddess dressing at PorterHouse New York (New York, NY)
Get Your Game On – The lobby as living room concept goes more casual and fun with pinball, pool tables, foosball or with theme nights like Movie Nights, Makeover Madness, “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol” viewing parties. Restaurant make dining fun with activity oriented events.
Examples: Pillar & Post (Niagra on the Lake, Ontario); “Golf & Grill” twilight golf games and dinners at Wente Vineyards (Livermore, CA)
Values Driven Incentives – Guests choose hotels and restaurants based on like-minded values. Hotels will donate a percentage of group business from group stays to the charity of choice, while building a strong relationship and being able to reach out to like minded businesses. Restaurants attract guests with conscious concerns seeking restaurants that reinforce their views.
Examples: Kimpton Hotels Shared Values Program; River Terrace Inn sponsors the Napa Valley Land Trust