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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, October 7, 2008

Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast

By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS
October 10, 2008

High expectations are the key to everything.   
                              Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

Sam Walton is best known for his fierce commitment to offering value and consistency through carefully watched costs and to innovation in retailing.  The hospitality industry has parallel features to retailing, as noted by a reader of one of the recent columns on STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL RESTAURANT MANAGERS.  John Spomer, Vice President & Managing Director of Destination Hotels’ Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas  (   shared the following insights 

“As an “old foodie” – it still blows me away that “servers don’t sell” so my tidbit is

Breakfast sells lunch
Lunch sells dinner
Dinner sells the bar
The Bar sells breakfast”
In our book LESSONS FROM THE FIELD, Howard Feiertag and I discussed the importance of breakfast as an effective sales tool, as an excellent way to interact with existing customers and as a way to competitively position your hotel against the competition.  Four years ago, I authored a column that discussed  The Power of Breakfast and proposed that many rooms’ only hotels were missing an opportunity to showcase their hotel’s physical amenities and layout.

In late 2008 with the dreadful global economic cycle facing all of us, we hoteliers must assess each and every asset we have and determine ways to effectively use them.  This awareness leads me to an update of the VALUE AND POWER OF BREAKFAST.  
The expression "power breakfast" was a very trendy expression in the late 1980s and through the 1990s.  It was habitually used to describe all the "deals" that refined and powerful people were able to close business agreements in previously under-utilized hours.
We have all come to understand that a hotel, as a combination of both a product and a service, is often easier to promote in a face-to-face situation.  The best opportunity for sales people to close may very well be when the potential client can see first-hand what a good experience their guests  will receive. 

Most hotel sales professionals will agree that group business, meetings and contract sales are usually closed when the prospect client has had a first hand opportunity to see the property "in action."  While some clients include an overnight as part of the due diligence review, many others cannot evaluate the full benefits of a rooms only hotel in competition with full service properties. 

Breakfast at both rooms-only and full service hotels is a chance to shine, as more salespeople than ever are viewing breakfast as an ideal time to "do" business.  

Inviting potential clients for breakfast and a tour of the hotel continues to be appealing to both hoteliers and buyers.  Consider these arguments why business breakfasts make sense for everyone:

  1. There are fewer cancellations for breakfast appointments, mainly because the invitee hasn't had the predicament of getting "tied up" at the office.
  2. “Doing business” at breakfast allows the invitee to get back to their office early and get in a full day.
  3. Hotel salespeople have more productive time available because they cut down on waiting time for their invitee and on travel time, which is a consideration in this time of high gasoline prices.
  4. Time spent at breakfast is viewed by many as more useful than other meals, because all participants view this as a time for productive business for all parties.  There is less likely to be quite as much warm-up banter, as everyone wants to get down to business.
  5. The question of "to drink or not to drink" doesn't need to be addressed and avoids the sensitive issue of alcohol before the meal. In the changing global market, this can be important.
  6. Breakfast at full service restaurants remains a best value, when compared to other meals.
  7. Both parties have cleared minds first thing in the morning and decisions can usually be made quicker.
  8. Hotel restaurants are frequently busier at breakfast than at other meals, unless your hotel is an upscale property with a high demand for business lunches. Doesn't it make sense to show a restaurant that appears to be well used and popular?
  9. Having the invitee to breakfast should insure a tour of the hotel if you are dining at your place.  Select a nearby place if your hotel does not offer breakfast so the hotel tour can take place.
  10. The hotel staff will also likely be fresh and more alert in the morning, providing a positive service impression.
Many rooms’ only properties offer very attractive continental breakfasts.  Your potential client will likely be positively impressed with your presentation that will be part of their guests' stay. 
The competition from the Rooms Only Hotels in your marketplace is increasing and many of the mid scale chains provide complimentary breakfast.  Your response needs to include an exceptional breakfast offering that makes potential guests decide to select your property.

Remember that  McDonalds', Wendy’s  and many other fast food restaurants recognized the value of breakfast in the last 15 years and turned formerly closed hours into periods of substantial profitability by meeting the needs of people who were looking for a quick, perceived value option for breakfast.  For many family restaurants such as Denny’s or International House of Pancakes ,  breakfast remains their highest and most profitable volume period.   

While many brands have clear guidelines, extra efforts in this area have demonstrated returns for operators and satisfaction for guests.

Questions of the day

These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.  Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!

  1. When was the last time you as an owner or manager ate breakfast with a client? Was it a good business experience for each of you?
  2. If it has been more than 10 days, why?
  3. If you are a full service hotel, how do you position your breakfast offerings in promotions, in house merchandising and in sales presentations?
  4. If you are a rooms' only property, are you proud of the breakfast you serve? Many of the mid-market rate and occupancy leaders are very proud of their offerings.  What might that say to you and THEIR guests?
PART 2 of Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast  will offer specific Strategies for Hotel Breakfast Servers.


Readers have sent me feedback asking for columns on room service, banquets, and customer care in food & beverage operations.   I am always looking for suggestions and welcome ideas. 

Reader input has been very gratifying on my request for your input on  DEFINING HOSPITALITY and I will be sharing those already received and any that come to me by 10.15 in a column later this month.

Feel free to share an idea at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements.  Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan.   This column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.

John Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He holds a number of industry certifications and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20 year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,100 workshops and seminars in his career.  He served as senior vice president for a client in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He has published more than 350 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from a range of industry sources and  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing his 2nd book based on his dissertation –     The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Food and Beverage Directors / Hotel Common Sense / John Hoganv/ September 2008
My Definition of Hospitality. What’s Yours? / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
Principles for Success as a Hotel Manager: 6 Observations on Finding and Employing Problem Solvers / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Action Steps to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Mistakes to Avoid in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / August 2008
Ways to Identify and Build Repeat Guests / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Maintaining Relationships Throughout the Organization / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part four: Communicating with Clarity and Candor / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part three: Using your management style effectively / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part Two: Motivating the Team / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of the Hotel Sales Office / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Factors for Successful Interviewing Potential Hotel Sales Candidates / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms - How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Extending Your Sales Team or Make Travel Agents A Regular Part of Your Sales Programs / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Finding Business Leads Can Be Easier Than You Think / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Understanding the Differences Between Marketing and Sales / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
Identifying Your Customers / Lessons from the Field A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008

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