One recent experience captured the problem perfectly and demonstrated the importance of planning and supervision in getting things right. For many of us, it is often the simple things that are overlooked and for some almost inexplicable reason, it almost always tends to be breakfast that is the culprit.

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for hotels, it’s a vital part of the guest experience. In this instance, this was a city centre four-star branded hotel. It was a busy weekend with a range of guests, including wedding guests, and international tourists. Breakfast was served in a room that doubled as a function room, with the breakfast buffet in an adjoining room. The breakfast room was pleasant and could cope with around 25 to 30 covers. Some of the tables were clothed and some not.

Just a few of the issues were… no signage to direct guests to the breakfast room, no food labelling including allergen information on the buffet, an hour before breakfast was scheduled to finish, the fruit salad had run out and there was no more available. Guests had to ask and wait for crockery, including cereal bowls, coffee mugs and juice glasses. Hot drinks were through a large dispensing machine that was out of beans with a selection of coffee mugs, some too small for the size of the dispense. Just two members of staff and no obvious supervision.

There were probably numerous ‘reasons’ why the breakfast was so poor but many of those guests will have been first-time hotel guests and are not likely to look favourably at becoming repeat guests.

Some fairly simple guidelines and reasons for getting breakfast right.

First Impressions

For many guests, breakfast is their first interaction with the hotel’s food and service. A high-quality breakfast sets a positive tone for the entire stay.

Value Perception

The costs of the breakfast either add a perceived value to the stay or the opposite, potentially influencing booking decisions and guest satisfaction.

Cultural Experience

For international travellers, hotel breakfasts can offer a taste of local cuisine and service that enhances or diminishes the overall travel experience.

Competitive Edge

In a crowded market, an exceptional breakfast offering can differentiate a hotel from its competitors.

Guest Satisfaction and Loyalty

A memorable breakfast experience can boost overall guest satisfaction, leading to positive reviews and repeat visits.

Operational Efficiency

Breakfast service should allow hotels to efficiently feed a large number of guests in a short time frame, with a sophisticated and professional service.

Put Breakfast First

Much of the focus of the hotel is more often on the high profile events rather than what is often considered to be the routine or the mundane. It is entirely because it is routine that it is very often overlooked. Managers can make assumptions that everything will be fine because they do it every day. But unless there is the appropriate level of monitoring and supervision, they could well be doing it badly every day.

Breakfast is far more than just a meal for hotels. It’s a crucial touchpoint that can significantly impact guest satisfaction, loyalty, and the overall success of the property.

By Professor Peter Jones MBE