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Hospitality/Hotel/Restaurant Trends for 2010

Andrew Freeman & Co. , November 20, 2009


The Magic Touch – Hotels and restaurants operate touch-screen interfaces for check-in, placing orders and user-guided guest education. Everything is paid for with the swipe of a card. Reach out and touch someone. 

Examples: Incentient electronic winelist (pictured) at SD26 (New York, NY) and for in-room guest service interface Ritz Carlton in Moscow

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. 

Pinch Hitting: Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner – Create cache by offering guests something special and inviting. Celebrity yoga instructors, chefs, actors, singers, 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) 

Spiritual Health: 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


The Discovery Channel – Guests are in search of experience vacations that allow them to get involved. Wise hotels bring the true taste to the table, or the farm. Farm stays, winery bootcamp programs, voluntourism, and cooking classes. Escape to an alternate reality. 

Examples: Feather Down Farms (multiple locations, Europe); Stony Creek Farm (New York, NY), Liberty Hill Farm (Rochester, VT)

I Heart Art –Say it with flowers and you’ll have to say it again and again. Art speaks volumes and doesn’t have to be replaced every week. It saves money, it can be a source of community involvement and it looks good. Art is smart. 

Examples: Hotel Palomar, Art in Motion (multiple locations)

The Loyal Treatment – Guest loyalty programs give more out, more often, in efforts to boost business and keep a strong relationship. 

Statistics: Loyalty is up 19% in a tough economy (Hospitality Technology)

One Size Does Not Fit All – Small and quirky hotels offer a unique experience; often at a more budget friendly price. Loose the traditional hotel accoutrements and replace with an alternative vibe. Airstream trailers, unusual property conversions, small but funky is the rule.

Examples: Pod hotels, Micro Hotels, Hotel Airstream (Newport Beach, CA), hip/funky hostels.

Outside the Box - Open air or outdoor lobbies, independently situated bungalows or guest units set amongst landscaped areas. Outdoor massages and exercise programs. Urban adaptations feature mini-rooftop gardens. It’s the great, great outdoors.

Examples: Cottage Suites at The Lodge at Sonoma (Sonoma, CA), Bardessono (Yountville, CA), Apple Farm (Philo, CA)

The New F Words – Form. Function. Flair. Hotel guests demand fully functional work and relaxation spaces; from practical desks, focused lighting, adequate bathroom counter space, plenty of plugs and the latest tech equipment. Don’t let design be a detriment.

Examples: ergonomic chairs, spare desk-side outlets, wireless speaker phone, and in-room connection ports with USB outlets including direct connection capabilities to sync a laptop with the 32” flat screen TV at Wyndham Phoenix Hotel (Phoenix, AZ)

Let’s Get Really Personal – Show the love and appreciation with a completely personalized experience. Customization goes to the next level to create the at-home feeling. Design at every touch-point is being personalized. 

Examples: Pre-loaded digital images of family photographs, customized playlists and magazine selections in every guestroom for return guests. 


Coming to America – International influences are ingrained. Sriracha (rooster sauce) is the new salsa, which replaced the old ketchup. Vietnamese Banh Mi is the new Ham & Swiss; and Middle Eastern spices and spreads go mainstream as pizza makes way for pita. Forget chicken noodle soup, it is pho; pho sure.

Examples: Short rib sliders with sriracha aioli (pictured) at E&O Trading Co. (San Francisco, Larkspur and San Jose, CA); Sourdough bread and lavash with feta walnut spread and Caspian tapenade at Zare at Fly Trap (San Francisco, CA)

This Is a Stick Up - Small foods on a stick. Skewers, satay, and yakitori; no ifs, ands or kebabs about it. 

Examples: Satay at Pranna Restaurant | Bar | Lounge (New York, NY); Anticuchos at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (multiple locations worldwide)

Use Your Noodle – Asian noodles including ramen, soba and pho; from basic broths to high-charged broths with barbecued meats and all sorts of additions. 

Examples: Big Bowl (multiple locations, ILL, VA, MN)

Sandwich Smorgasbord – Enjoy a globally inspired buffet of sandwich style options including Scandinavian open faced, Indian Kati rolls, PLTs with pancetta or pork belly, international grilled cheeses and tricked out Mexican tortas bursting at the seams. There’s a reason why delicious begins with Deli. 

Examples: The Sentinel (San Francisco, CA); Take a Bao (Century City, CA)

Love Shack Baby– Seafood shacks go upscale and mainstream, even in inland areas. Old favorites like oysters, fried clams, fish ‘n chips, lobster rolls, crab cakes and clam chowder, as well as fish tacos, clam bakes, lobster boils and all encompassing fish frys. We’re hooked. 

Examples: Nettie’s Crab Shack (San Francisco, CA); Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll (multiple locations, East Coast)

School of Fish – Pristine local organic produce is no longer enough, chefs and guests are casting their nets beyond small, local, sustainable and organic farming to demand sustainable seafood certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch and other eco-conscious organizations. So long snapper; make way for mackerel.

Examples: Area 31 (Miami, FLA); Fish (Sausalito, CA) 

One Plate Wonders – The carte du jour is combined for speed, efficiency, cost-savings and fun. It’s a completely fresh take on the blue plate special. 

Examples: TV dinner at FIVE (Berkeley, CA); Quadrifoglio at SD26 (New York, NY), Red plate special at Red Star Tavern and Roast House (Portland, OR) 

Dinner Theatre – Interactive entrees, apps and desserts create an experience not just a dish. From simple tableside preparations, mix it yourself tartar, sauces added at the table, build your own sundaes and ingredients that pop in your mouth; dinner is the show. We’ll all work for food. 

Example: Cote de boeuf pour deux served and sliced tableside at Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar, (San Francisco, CA); at home dessert kits from Mi2Sweets (San Francisco, CA)

Downsizing -- Honey I Shrunk the Plates – One size doesn’t always fit all. Small is now smaller. Restaurants respond in numerous ways

• Entrees available in full or half sizes
• Miniature menu items 
• Pre-appetizer small bites meant for sharing 

Examples: Perbacco (San Francisco, CA) and Poggio (Sausalito, CA) offer pastas in half and full sizes; Best-O-Burger (San Francisco, CA) serves slider-sized burgers; “Three bites and a flight” pairs three mini tacos and a flight of paired wines at Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar (Sonoma, CA)

Garden Tap – Sausages and suds under the open sky. Beer gardens with good grub are spreading like Teutonic plague.

Examples: Charlie’s Kitchen, (Cambridge, MA) Café Berlin, (Denver, CO)

Eat Street – It’s the food truck tweet-up, a mash-up of narrowly focused food purveyors clustered together and sharing a communal seating area. Consider it the new block party. 

Paint My Plate – Restaurants and art galleries merge as restaurants with art galleries attached open and art galleries bring in chefs and food for artistic food-focused events. 

Examples: 18 Reasons (San Francisco, CA); Mua (Oakland, CA) 

If You’re Happy and You Know it… – Extend happy hours; start early, go late and offer a second late night shift. How happy can you get?

Examples: Postrio happy hour 2:30pm – 6:30pm (San Francisco, CA)

1. Eggs: deviled, pickled and deep fried
2. Sous vide fruit, jam packed fruit with jolly rancher intensity
3. Pasta: ramen, soba and spaghetti
4. Legs & feet 
5. You silly rabbit
6. Cassoulet and crock pots
7. Fritters and croquettes
8. Ceviche (moving east), fried chicken (moving west)
9. Polenta and grits
10. More than just your token tofu

1. Iced tea is the new water
2. Retro sodas 
3. Red, white and orange – natural wines
4. Hard ciders and cask aged beers
5. Dessert drinks and spiked shakes 
6. All tapped in: wine on tap 
7. Beer cocktails
8. Flower power: rosewater, crème de violette and hibiscus syrup
9. Foam art and branded drinks on cocktails and coffee 
10. Bitter cocoa and coffee tinctures in cocktails 

Andrew Freeman & Co. is a boutique agency specializing in hospitality and restaurant marketing. Our goals at AF&Co. are very simple: provide one-on-one consulting, build awareness and generate revenue for our clients. We focus on the areas that we have expertise in and are passionate about... restaurants and wine, travel and hotels, and lifestyle personalities and products.


Andrew Freeman & Co. 
101 Townsend Street, Suite #303, 
San Francisco, CA 94107
p. 415-781-5700

Also See: 2008 Top Hotel and Restaurant Trends To Watch / Andrew Freeman & Co. / December 2007

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