WE have counted 23 good hotels in Iloilo City, with a new one added on Gen. Hughes St. near Sagrado College and expected to open for business soon, with its beautiful building finished.
As it is now, there are two hotels on M.H. del Pilar St., Molo; three at Smallville, B. Aquino Avenue, Mandurriao; three on Gen. Luna St.; two on Fuentes St.; two on Jalandoni Street; one on J. de Leon St. (near Aglipayan Church); one on Quezon St; three on Iznart St.; one on Yulo St.; one on Aldeguer St.; one on J. Rizal St.; one in La Paz, Iloilo City; one in Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro; and now, the newest, one on Gen. Hughes St. which is walking distance from Plaza Libertad.
With the 22 others already established with regular patrons, this new hotel has to do some creative “inviting” to get a good share of the business.
We have our experience working with a hotel that hosted the national convention event of a large group during the heydays of the sugar industry. Perhaps because of the big volume of food handled, a complaint of food served as allegedly not fresh was received from a group of guests during one function. While the particular item was immediately withdrawn and replaced, negative news spread in town after the event, possibly fueled by competitors. Later, we felt its negative effect on the declining patronage of our restaurant outlets. We needed to think fast of ideas to bring back business.
What we did was to hire a new chef, a German national from a small hotel in Ermita, Manila. It was a good decision because Ilonggos were generally curious but friendly to foreigners. One thing more, this man had good PR and came out every time to personally greet important guests in the restaurants or at functions.
We held a campaign to show his culinary talents by lining up for lunch invitation in the hotel a list of leading Ilonggos in government, business, industry and the academe, including those in the civic and social clubs. When a guest came, we met him at the door of the restaurant and introduced our new hotel chef. We saw to it, too, that we had a good team of waiters serving. Sometimes our President in the hotel would join us at the table and meet the guest, too.
After lunch, we invited the guest for a hotel tour, continuing our friendly conversation as we walked around. In the end, we thanked him for honoring our invitation and, finally, the clincher question that we asked towards the door:
“We hope that you enjoyed our food and service. If you did, will you please tell others? However, if not, we will appreciate very much your advising us where we need improvement.”
We noted that the customer was greatly complimented by our asking his advice. We listened.
The strategy was a good moral booster to us and the result of the campaign was terrific. In less than six months, we were able to introduce to our patrons our new chef, the various food menus that we served, and our dining and accommodation facilities.
Our chef was also able to concoct and discover new menus for the hotel, with an increase in the number of guests that later came to dine with us.
Ilonggo customers were generally a grateful lot and came back to bring along someone or his group to eat again at the hotel.
At one time, our guest was the President of the local Bankers’ Club and, pleased with our food and service, asked us to reserve for the club to transfer their coming week’s meeting with us!
You will note that 80 percent of hotel revenues come from food and beverage, and guest room facilities usually contribute no more than 20 percent. It is therefore very important that the restaurants, cocktail lounges and bars which are usually the first contact points of the hotel with the general public, should be given good attention by the management.
The patronage of the guest and function rooms for large groups would just follow.