Hotels have benefited from the breakfast opportunity for years, but with the economic downturn biting at the heels of many hospitality businesses, restaurant and pub operators are now waking up to the potential revenue provided by early morning service too.
Big name brands like Wetherspoon, Zizzi and Pizza Express, synonymous with lunchtime and evening drinking and dining, have discovered a way to boost revenue by opening a few hours earlier.
The hectic lifestyle afforded by many consumers nowadays has driven demand for flexibility when it comes to eating out of home – a trend that has so far largely benefited cafes and coffee shops.
Research the demand
However, while the general demand for breakfast is there, operators are warned to consider their local demographic and surroundings before expanding their offer.
“Restaurants are targeting breakfast dining more aggressively than other mealtimes right now, but unless you’re in a high footfall location you won’t succeed,” says Steve Gotham of Allegra Strategies.
Diners will usually choose to go to a restaurant because of its reputation or cuisine, but are more likely to visit a venue for breakfast if it’s in a convenient location, e.g. for commuters heading to work or businessmen after a nearby meeting spot.
“If you’re next to a budget hotel that’s also a benefit,” says Peter Backman of Horizons. “If consumers have a bed and breakfast deal at their hotel then they might as well eat there, but as budget hotels don’t always include breakfast in the overall price, consumers may be tempted to venture to a venue nearby.”
Other locations likely to benefit from passing breakfast trade are those nearby gyms, business parks and trading estates, train stations and high streets.
But Backman warns businesses specialising in ethnic cuisine to either steer clear of breakfast or, in the case of Thai chain Busaba Eathai, offer traditional British/ European dishes.
“I don’t think breakfast will be successful for the ethnic sector – people like to eat what they usually have for breakfast. I don’t think people are in the mood at breakfast for trying new things. That’s why it’s so traditional in hotels.”
Hotels already serving breakfast could do well to take a second glance at their offer, and review how it could be improved in terms of food quality and service.
“A good breakfast could make or break whether a guest will return to a hotel - you could say hotels haven’t been promoting breakfast as much as they could,” added Backman. “A major problem is that the breakfast rooms seem to be quite off-putting – if breakfast is served in the dining room, as it so often is, the atmosphere doesn’t feel right.
“You also always feel like you’re being watched in a hotel dining room, so hotels need to address their service standards as well as operations to get the offer right.”
If you’re still questioning the benefits of starting a breakfast offer or even concentrating on improving your existing one further, know this: spend at breakfast is traditionally low, so you may not make a profit. You will however improve your brand image and over time entice more consumers to visit at different times of the day. Giving it a go will cost little and do minimal to no brand damage if the demand isn’t there.
Eating out at breakfast is rapidly becoming a huge dining trend. Can you afford to allow your business to get left behind?
Over the course of this month we’ll be looking at each sector in more detail to see how beneficial and easy it can be for businesses to kickstart their breakfast offer or improve their existing one, starting with the pub sector next Monday 14 January.