Mar­ket it right.

James Ha­con, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Think Hos­pi­tal­ity, who will be co-host­ing a Masterclass on restau­rant mar­ket­ing at the Global restau­rant In­vest­ment Fo­rum (GRIF) gives Cater­ing News Mid­dle East an out­look on the chal­lenges of restau­rant mar­ket­ing in the

CateringNews Middle East - - In Focus -

The role of a mar­ket­ing leader in food and bev­er­age brands is far broader than in other in­dus­tries. They are seen as the cen­tre pin to a suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity of the brand, prod­uct devel­op­ment, in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sales, in­no­va­tion, pric­ing strat­egy and of­ten busi­ness di­rec­tion, hence se­nior mar­keters are very much seen as an im­por­tant voice around a board­room ta­ble.

How­ever, in a tra­di­tion­ally op­er­a­tor fo­cused sec­tor, the worth of mar­ket­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness is un­doubt­edly a grey area. A re­cent sur­vey I con­ducted which in­cluded restau­rant mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als saw 61% cit­ing a lack of op­er­a­tions team buy-in be­ing a key chal­lenge, while 44% said they lacked buy-in from their lead­ers. The only greater chal­lenge was bud­get.

Broader busi­ness lead­ers need to recog­nise the value that mar­ket­ing brings to busi­nesses, while mar­keters need to con­cen­trate on build­ing a bet­ter rap­port with the op­er­a­tors. In the words of a speaker “col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing is key to suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing, it is not just the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the mar­ket­ing team, but ev­ery­one at ev­ery level should buy-in, en­gage­ment starts within”.

In the Mid­dle East the lack of food and

bev­er­age fo­cused mar­ket­ing teams is pro­nounced, with the sec­tor so linked to the ho­tel in­dus­try, the de­fault po­si­tion for many is to have the ho­tel mar­ket­ing direc­tor look after pro­mot­ing food and bev­er­age too. Hav­ing worked in both sec­tors ex­ten­sively, I can as­sure you they are chalk and cheese, with two very dif­fer­ent skill sets. The ho­tel sec­tor is mostly very cor­po­rate, fo­cused on trans­ac­tions of­ten driven by dig­i­tal and part­ner­ship ar­range­ments, whereas the restau­rant sec­tor is tra­di­tion­ally much more cre­ative, fo­cused on cre­at­ing brands and ex­pe­ri­ences.

Restau­rant mar­keters do how­ever need a clear com­mer­cial un­der­stand­ing – per­son­ally, this is the gap that I be­lieve needs to be worked on in 2018. It is vi­tal to un­der­stand your P&L, sales flows, mar­gins and costs, to en­sure you are mak­ing de­ci­sions that will move the nee­dle, not just drive aware­ness. To be taken se­ri­ously as a mar­keter, you must be able to hold your own with fi­nanciers and op­er­a­tors, do this by not only voic­ing your own opin­ion but the brand and cus­tomer viewpoint. Re­mem­ber, win­ning brands are not made by fi­nanciers, they are cre­ated by peo­ple with a vi­sion, an un­der­stand­ing of cus­tomers and a good hand on the mar­ket­place.

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