The food operation in hotels and B&Bs is a vital part of the business and competition is fierce – as is criticism on social media if your offering is not up to scratch. So how do you earn yourself five-star reviews?

A great start A brilliant breakfast is an absolute must, and makes up the most traffic in a hotel. Research by Twinings shows that a better quality breakfast offering implies good quality elsewhere within the hotel. The traditional cooked breakfast will always have its place, but recent research reveals that, although a cooked breakfast is the nation’s favourite, other morning goods follow close behind: There has also been a big rise in American-inspired dishes such as pancakes becoming a core dish on menus.

The nation’s Top 5 favourite breakfasts

1. Cooked breakfast (29%)
2. Toast (21%)
3. Cold cereal (13%)
4. Pastries and continental breakfasts ( joint fourth at 10%)
5. Porridge (9%)

When it comes to spreads, consumers want sweetness in their lives – 61% of people prefer to start their day with marmalade, jam or hazelnut spread. Country Range has recently re-launched its premium preserves, which are available in 20g pots and include strawberry, raspberry, apricot and blackcurrant jams, marmalade and honey portion. For an easy but healthy breakfast alternative, why not try adding Major International’s Fruit Bases, which are available in a variety of flavours, to Greek yoghurt and top with granola and fresh fruit?

Terrific trays You never get a second chance to make a good first impression – so make sure your in-room trays are up to scratch. Country Range offers caterers a range of Front of House portion products in a contemporary design, to enhance your offering. It includes sugar sachets and sticks and milk pots – as well as a range of Fairtrade and Rainforest AllianceTM certified products. Research shows that consumers are growing increasingly concerned about sustainability and environmental issues, and are looking to use sustainable products where possible. Providing Country Range Fairtrade Hot Chocolate sachets, Rainforest Alliance Accredited Premium Blend envelope and tagged tea bags and Rainforest Alliance Freeze Dried Coffee Sticks therefore shows your commitment to the environment and provides reassurance of the hotel’s credentials. For a sweet treat, our Luxury Mini Pack Assorted Biscuits and Mini Pack Assorted Biscuits, along with Country Range’s award-winning Gingerbread Men Mini Pack Biscuits, complement your in-room hot beverages perfectly. This year Pritchitts is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Millac Maid Mini Pot. Its ambient shelf life helps makes it easy to store and minimise wastage, as well as delivering easy portion control.

Little extras Little things can mean big business for hoteliers with research revealing that 87% of consumers would return to a hotel that went the extra mile. Reviewers on TripAdvisor regularly comment on the fact that a small chocolate was included as part of a hotel’s turn-down service and this relatively inexpensive idea is always met with huge appreciation. Similarly complimentary mints are named as one of the top three little things that make a big difference to guests.

“Hoteliers can now harness the retail power of tic tac – the fastest growing top 10 pocket confectionery brand – and offer their guests something they really want out-of-home,” says Natasha Quinn, foodservice channel operations manager, Ferrero. “The new pillow pack provides an innovative way to offer complimentary mints and is ideal for conference and meeting rooms, front-of-house with the receipt and hotel reception desks, as well as part of the turn-down service.”

Afternoon tea Afternoon tea is not only a brilliant income generator but also a way of enticing additional guests into your hotel during a traditionally quiet day-part. The 97-bedroom Highgate House in Northampton has seen the appeal of afternoon tea grow to a wider range of customers from ladies that lunch to pre-wedding bridal parties – generating a lucrative revenue stream for the venue. With the change in demographics has come the requirement to refresh and revitalise afternoon tea menus. Head chef Lee Gaskins has met this need by adding chocolate-based pastries and cakes to the traditional offering of sandwiches, \tea and scones. Recent independent research found that 60% of people would be more likely to order afternoon tea if it included chocolate, so Lee creates a variety of delicious treats including brownies, tiffins, chocolate dipped biscuits and macaroons for his afternoon teas – inspired by Callebaut’s chocolate hub –

Full of beans Guests are expecting coffee shop quality coffee in hotels, according to Lynn Little, of Nestlé Professional. “Coffee is HOT right now,” she explains. “There is simply no getting away from it. Whether on the high street or in a hotel, our quest for a ‘good cup’ is high on the national agenda. In fact, as a nation we currently drink a staggering 42 million cups from coffee shops each week, and this is expected to rise to 68 million by 2019. With our growing thirst for coffee has come a growing expectation of quality. A simple ‘black or white’ will no longer do, and whether in a hotel room or a breakfast room, we have come to expect a ‘coffee shop experience’ wherever we are.”

In a UK first, Travelodge recently teamed up with Italian expresso brand Lavazza as part of its brand transformation programme, to offer its customers a premium coffee range as part of its new unlimited breakfast menu. Karen Broughton, sales and marketing director at Travelodge, said: “Britain’s breakfast is changing. More and more of our customers are telling us they value a choice of great coffees and healthier options, as well as the traditional full cooked breakfast. Whether it’s premium Lavazza coffee, fruit salad, or vegetarian options from the Linda McCartney range, our new breakfast menu is in touch with the needs of modern travellers looking for quality and value.”

Many establishments now offer a separate coffee menu, allowing guests to choose from Cappuccino, Americano, Lattes and so on. As well as keeping your residents happy, it’s also a great way to attract non-guests into your hotel. Catering to growing demand for barista-style coffee, Nestlé Professional has created Nescafé Azera – offering the same high standard you would expect from a barista – but in an instant. For guests eager to get out and about, Vegware has launched a range of on-trend hot drinks cups to help hotels keep pace with high street and specialist competition for the morning cuppa.