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5 Mistakes to Avoid During Coffee Procurement

It wasn’t so long ago that the premium hotel groups were known for their lush accommodation, but mediocre food and beverage experience. In the 1980s and 90s, the hotel restaurant was typically not your first choice when staying away - only patronised if you were too late or too tired to find a local treasure. 

Thankfully, premium and boutique hotels have relished the opportunity to develop world-class food and beverage experiences.  Opulent dining experiences are now a large driver of the luxury and business traveller’s hotel decision, and therefore a clear strategic focus in developing each hotel’s experience. 

Food and Beverage managers have a challenging yet exciting job on their hands. Not only do they need suppliers and partner brands that align with and enhance their own brand, but they need to ensure a consistent, high-quality experience across every morsel of food and beverage consumed. 

With an ever-increasing number of discerning coffee drinkers here in Australia and abroad, a hotel’s coffee supply decision is a vital part of this picture. Think of a traveller’s morning experience - a delicious coffee in-room without having to go hunting to find one, can make a huge difference to their stay (as can an espresso martini before bed!). 

Today, we’re sharing five of the biggest mistakes (well, regrets really) that hotel decision-makers experience, when choosing their coffee partner. While not all are disastrous, most can significantly impact the revenue opportunities and luxury experience offered to guests, so they’re good ones to avoid! Ready? Here we go.

Regret #1: Not recognising the full capabilities of the supplier 

The Asia-Pacific coffee market is experiencing huge growth, and is predicted to hit a CAGR of 6.2% from 2021 to 2026. Increasing demand for fresh, aromatic coffee, innovative flavour blends and continuously innovating equipment are all fueling market growth. 

Just as we see with the cafe scene in Australia, coffee roasters have also proliferated, and we’ve seen some very cool and quality coffee brands emerge across the country. 

Mindfully, there is so much more to consider in the hotel environment. What operations sit behind the brand are just as crucial to understand, such as: 

  • sales support 
  • training
  • the quality, speed and availability of servicing (especially important if you’re a hotel group)
  • the level of technical servicing available
  • marketing support and brand partnerships offered
  • the sustainability of the brand 

If your hotel brand has more than one or two sites and plans to expand, you’ll also need to consider whether the partner can service your growing footprint. 

Pricing is another aspect to review in detail when deciding on your future coffee provider. Pricing of supply changes frequently, and some providers may find it hard to keep a stable price for their customers. 

Larger, global organisations typically have the technology and the science to source beans from their family of suppliers. Long term relations with coffee farmers and suppliers result in blends that have consistent flavour, quality and texture. 

Regret #2: Partnering with a supplier that doesn’t have a closed capsule solution 

EXAMPLE - You have five sites, each with 100 rooms. At 80% occupancy, you have two capsules per room, or 160 capsules going home with guests for later enjoyment - let’s say conservatively - three times a week. 160 x 3  x 5 hotel sites = 2400 capsules, going home as freebies with your customers. If we say each capsule costs approximately 60 cents to the hotel, then you have around $1440 walking out with your guests every single week. 

Not only that, but is there a cost of having the same in-room coffee experience as households have at home? In a premium hotel, are you perhaps looking for a better experience than that you can get in your own kitchen? And could it be part of the reason you choose to stay in that hotel? 

Everyone loves a freebie, but when you have a chance to make an impression and create an experience that is exclusive to your hotel, a supplier with a non-retail closed-capsule solution (that is, a capsule solution designed specifically for out of home occasions) will present you with huge and instant savings.

Regret #3: Not thinking about the current consumer environment  

Most premium hotels are experts at understanding their travellers and consumer expectations. However, more recently, the impacts of COVID are making consumers seek out trusted brand names. Just as they trust the name of your hotel, they may also seek comfort in identifiable brands - especially when those names are synonymous with global quality standards, social responsibility and sustainability. 

Global brands can effectively manage logistics and coffee partnerships, even during times when international movement is constricted. You’ll have a brand that provides peace of mind to you, your staff and your customers. 

Regret #4: Choosing a brand with limited equipment and blends 

Typically, larger global coffee suppliers are set up to deliver multiple coffee brand solutions that cater to the needs of large hotel groups and each of their customer segments. The coffee experience expected from the InterContinental Hotel, for example, may be very different to the kind expected from the Holiday Inn. Likewise, within one hotel there are many coffee occasions. It’s important to have appropriate solutions across portfolios, equipment, training and maintenance specific to each need.  

To achieve economies of scale, larger hotel groups typically seek a varied portfolio supplier who offers customised packages that cater to each hotel brand’s needs. This delivers a complete coffee solution along with the sheer pleasure of engaging with a single supplier.

Regret #5: Leaving marketing & F&B out of the procurement process 

A critical consideration during the initial stages of procuring a new coffee supplier is to engage both the marketing and F&B teams to clearly outline the hotels marketing requirements in the initial tender document. 

Involving marketing can enhance the dollar value of these agreements, with opportunities for co-branded materials and the creation of bespoke events and experiences such as a lobby activation with an espresso martini coffee cart. 

In short, involving marketing in the early stages will ensure your new coffee supplier becomes a true business partner.

In conclusion

With food and beverage taking a front seat in the hotel sector’s premium experience, the choice of F&B partners has become an important one. Hotel decision-makers from General Manager, to Food and Beverage Manager to HR, Marketing and Procurement can all play a role in ensuring the hotel partners with a supplier that delivers a total business solution.  

Like to know more about working with Lavazza? Take a look at Lavazza’s 360 degree hotel offering here.

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