Wise said that having the locals dine at a hotel restaurant is a benchmark that you are doing things right—and can provide a source of information for potential hotel guests.
“If you are traveling to Milwaukee for example, you might ask local friends where you should stay,” he said. “They’ll say ‘Go to The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, it’s our favorite place. We have brunch there. We have dinner there.’ The locals are recommending that to their friends and their relatives. Then, you have business that is bringing in people from out of town. They are also promoting places that succeed well with locals.”
Being a go-to place makes the hotel and it’s F&B outlet part of the community. “The locals have their events here,” he said. “They celebrate here. They might gather in a bar or have dinner before they go to a concert or sporting event. We are definitely part of the community, and locals play a big part.”
When guests and locals come to hotels operated by Marcus Hotels & Resorts across the country, they can get authentic local dishes with authentic local ingredients. Referring to the Miller Time Pub at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, Wise said the bar & grill had the best cheese curds he had ever had in his life.
“When you want top Midwestern Beef, you go to the Milwaukee ChopHouse [also at the Hilton]or Mason Street Grill at The Pfister,” said Wise. “The chef at Mason Street is working with top cheesemakers, and not just for cheese curds, but really high-level cheeses that are available.”
It is not just local food that guests are looking for. “Let’s say you’re a ‘coffee head’ and you try all the local coffee shops in your hometown,” he said. “When you come to another city, aren’t you going to want to check out the coffee culture in that city?”
In addition to seeking out coffee spots, travelers are often looking for local craft beers. “People are all into the local breweries and the local beers,” said Wise. “They don’t want to drink the same beer they can get at home. They want to taste the new beer that’s in this market they’re coming to for the first time.”
Wise said that because the company manages hotels across the U.S., it allows each one to do their own thing when it comes to selecting their F&B offerings. “There are different local traditions,” he said. “We give them a fair amount of latitude to embrace what it is. Most of them were born and raised in those towns, and they are very proud of the F&B culture that they have and want to show it off.”
Guests are better educated about culinary than they have ever been, whether that is watching travel shows or doing their own research before their trips.
“There’s now been decades of Food Network on TV,” he said. “Everybody’s a little foodie. Everybody’s taking selfies of what they eat. We want to have those beautiful dishes that they can take pictures of and post on their Instagram and Facebook pages.”