August 28, 2020
Contributing Expert: Charles Welch | Manager, Hospitality
Grab-and-go options have been part of hotel design in various forms for quite some time. The prevalence of options is a function of whether the hotel is full-service or select-service. In the full-service segment, there is an incentive to have guests sit and consume food or beverage in the onsite restaurant(s) rather than grabbing something on the go. But even that dynamic depends on the site as well as the brand.
With the surge of growth in the select-service segment, there has been a trend of expanding what was typically a small sundries area to offer a greater variety of grab-and-go items in a much more open space. Hampton Inn, an early leader in the category, is a great example. You can visit different generations of the brand and witness the evolution from a small, closed-in space to the now enlarged “Treats” area. Another example is Generation 4.5, the Springhill Suites prototype, where The Market is directly adjacent to the reception desk, allowing guests to select from craft beer and wine, among other options.
No longer are guests asked to enter into enclosed drywall spaces with few options from which to choose. Instead, they are enticed into prominently positioned, well-appointed areas that complement the lobby’s overall design aesthetic. Not only can they see their options upon entering the hotel, but the open spaces invite guests to browse and shop, whether or not they entered with an expressed need to do so. And the offerings themselves have become more sophisticated, emphasizing fresh, local, healthy, and craft in many cases.
How Does a Pandemic Play Into the Grab-and-Go Movement?
Like all aspects of hotel design, it remains to be seen how, in total, coronavirus will play into the grab-and-go movement. By combining the needs for social distancing and guest perceptions of healthy environments, fewer hotel guests will likely crowd into lobbies for a drink and a meal in the near-term.
We may see full-service brands decide to provide short-term measures and wait out the pandemic, choosing to keep their current food offerings similar to pre-COVID. Or, we may see more unique methods of offering freshly cooked meals from their existing offerings, but with advanced delivery methods like warming bins or robots.
In the select-service segment, the grab-and-go offerings are expected to increase in prevalence. For years designs have trended in that direction, but we anticipate that trend to be enhanced by the current environment. In the near-term, travelers are not as likely to drop into restaurants for lunch or dinner upon arrival to a new destination if the options around the hotel property are more limited. Depending on the time of day, they may opt for delivery service or grab whatever is available from the grab-and-go options.
All of this is contingent on when we achieve the widespread distribution of a vaccine. Feedback from many hotel owners recently is that while occupancy is low, the percentage of guests purchasing from these areas is higher than usual.
Getting Started in the Grab-and-Go Space
We expect the grab-and-go trend to continue to expand and evolve over the upcoming years, both during the recovery from COVID and into the post-COVID environment. It matches trends and melds with the feedback we continue to receive from the market.