Marketing, Menus


What’s Your Signature?

Do you have a gold mine in your F&B operations? You might if you were to avail yourself of all the collective information compiled from your frequent guests’ preferences, including catered events.

Depending on the type of software you’re using for your customer relationship management (CRM), you could identify an enhanced information base that will highlight the types of menu item preferences which have reached their saturation point and are no longer effectively exceeding sales. The latter may be due more to dining trends and health-savvy food forums. Everything has a time limit until the next food trend becomes an enlightening experience. Most likely, your customer reviews (guest room card surveys, direct-mail inquiries, as well as unsolicited complaints or raves coming through on Twitter feeds) will have some bearing on how you are performing.

If your IT department can produce effective data mining information on your restaurant and hotel operations (including business meetings and catered special events), you would be able to detect a pattern about the type of customer you are hosting. You could also designate a profitable component towards increasing customer awareness to your facility as well as sales: Develop your own signature.

Why not feature your own house signature salad, drink, or dessert? Make it your own salad with special plating, style and composition; make it your own drink infused with wild berries and colorful liqueurs; make it your own dessert with a two-for-one, tableside preparation en flambé (without burning the house down or your guest’s eyelashes). It’s all about presentation and getting the added level of service attention in doing so. This, after all, is your hallmark and brings customers back for repeat business.

Now that “staycations” are de rigueur this summer, why not market your signature items with an attractively designed mailer to the community at large. Don’t forget that most of the residents in your area may not be aware your restaurant is open to the public and this may become a great way to market. Have you invited them yet? If your hotel property also has a swimming pool with an alfresco dining facility (or better yet, beach access), have you considered issuing “private invitations” to residents in your community to enjoy the hotel’s amenities along with a coupon to dine at the restaurant? Conduct direct mail invitations based on purchased mailing lists which are more specific to your market segment. Alternatively, consider utilizing your local real estate professionals to co-advertise with you to select zip code regions. Since Realtors love any opportunity to capitalize on gaining added exposure for prospective leads, it would appear that this type of association has its benefits as well. These days, nothing should get in the way of making a difference in how you can creatively promote yourself. However, promoting your place with your own signature house menu selections can certainly add sufficient gusto to your bottom line.

Try using a historical trend on your signature salad compositions. You can bring back to life famous recipes used elsewhere and even promote them again with your own divine intervention. Think of the most popular salads put together at The ‘21’ Club: Hunter Salad and Sunset Salad, not to be undone by the ‘21” Traditional Lorenzo Dressing, which was invented by one of its waiters. While we’re at this wonderful facility, I heartily recommend incorporating the ‘21’ Traditional Chicken Hash which contained sufficient dry sherry in its cooking method and was served with toast points… and after forty-four years, I can still remember this aromatic delicacy (it must have been the company).

Borrowing from the now-closed Tavern on the Green, their fabulous dessert à deux “Lemon-Frangelico Soufflé” was for many couples visiting New York City for the first time, a requisite stop. This is a seductive sweet composition that was as beautiful in its colorful presentation as it was for its taste. Who wouldn’t want to order this from your menu?

And finally, borrowing from Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, is, of course, “The Bellini”. It’s just a pure name-dropper and so well recognized that customers come to this famed, celebrity haunt just to have this white peach puree from France served with Prosecco and… take a moment.

I think there is no better way to compliment old favorites than to serve them anew and regenerate your business with an enthusiastic display of “old, yet new again” signature salads, desserts, and drinks to your establishment. Invigorate your F&B operation with some tried-and-true presentations.