Southern African hotel groups are investing more into their food and beverage (F&B) operations to boost their occupancy and diversify their markets.

This comes as a new report by global analyst, Keane Brands, has shown that global hotel groups will open 700 new hotel restaurants and bars across the African continent by 2025.

William McIntyre, Regional Director: Africa for the Radisson Hotel Group, told Tourism Update that among the essentials for travellers today – including express laundry, high-speed WiFi and concierge service – a hotel’s restaurant and bar has a “significant impact” on a traveller’s choice of brand.

“For travellers a good restaurant and bar are convenient meeting spaces and for business travellers especially, a great and convenient spot for a meal,” he commented, adding that breakfast was a must for business travellers.

He said the group had almost 100 hotels in operation and under development in Africa which were mainly in metropolitan cities and coastal towns, with the properties’ array of restaurants and bars often providing an authentic, local experience, including local dishes and beverages.

According to McIntyre, the ultimate goal for any hotel is to drive occupancy, and having a vibrant food and drinks scene that keeps up with local trends will definitely encourage foreign guests to visit the city as it adds to the overall experience for the traveller.

“Because of the growth of social media over the past few years, including Instagram influencers, the culinary experience has shifted to a global presence and hotels have become the destination in itself.”

CEO of the City Lodge Hotel Group (CLHG), Andrew Widegger, confirmed that the hospitality group was tweaking its food and beverage offering across its five brands to meet the changing needs of guests.

He highlighted that tour groups in particular were looking for a good, healthy, hearty breakfast. “We also provide breakfast and lunch packs, which are ideal for guests going out for the day on business or leisure tours.”

He said the group would soon be piloting an all-day meal solution at its Town Lodge brand.

Widegger pointed out that in CLHG’s experience, international tourists didn’t particularly choose one hotel over another because of the actual in-hotel restaurant but were more interested that there were food options available. “They typically, and particularly in Cape Town, like to explore the area and book stand-alone restaurants.”