Whether putting ideas together for a new business or looking for new ideas to give your existing restaurant/hospitality business a pick-me-up, there is no one-size-fits-all place to go. Association websites such as the National Restaurant Association provide a wide range of information for businesses at any stage of the game. From trends in the restaurant and hospitality industry to business management, when looking for an overarching, with a wide breadth of information, the larger association sites are a good place to start. A general google search will bring up broad sources of information, which for overall industry information and big picture updates are key. The most exciting part about all this information is that it covers the industry not just in your corner of the world, but gives access to restaurant and hospitality trends around the globe. Whether your business is a corporate chain or independently owned, understanding what is going on from large to small can help to move your business forward.
The good news is, there is lots info out there and even the big players are focusing on the smaller areas of interest to find the current trends in food, flavors and décor. The bad news is there is so much out there it can be overwhelming. Making a list of what your needs are and starting from the big to the small can be helpful in giving an overview of information that leads to a more defined body of knowledge.
Honing in on what you want to know:
Maybe broad is not your stroke and with an abundance of information, finding the right source is like a needle in a haystack. It boils down to what information you are looking for at that particular moment in time. Overarching business and industry information sources might offer information about smaller restaurants, but it might not be as specific as you would like, so if you want to know what’s going on down the street, you might want to look at that restaurant’s website. Determining if you are looking for global learning or local establishment knowledge is where the search commences.
Thinking outside the box is key to surviving in the highly competitive nature of the hospitality industry. From customer loyalty points to chain hotels offering avocado toast at free breakfast buffets, the ways of trying to appeal to many audiences is endless. Two suggestions on how to focus your search of industry information are to have a keen sense of your business’ identity and knowing what direction you are heading in. By defining your sense of self – who you are as a business and who you want to be – where you go for information can help to promote those ideas.
Searching with a purpose:
Sometimes the purpose is just to peruse and get a sense of something that’s going on outside the four walls that you look at on a daily basis. More often than not, when you go in search of information, it is with a specified purpose. Be that purpose general information or inspiration, having a list bookmarked can help you to get there faster. Looking for more general ideas and/or business management knowledge means starting on sites with broader appeal. Deciding on cloth or paper napkins and the color of wood on the tables or bar counter, will lead to a different set of smaller sites.
Many sites offer subscriptions or signups for newsletters and notifications. Both might offer insight and news items that are not always available to the general public. The question is whether you want to pay for a subscription service or you feel there is enough “free” information available. Depending on the source, subscriptions from organizations that offer seminars or industry conferences/trade shows, might offer discounts to subscribers. When researching whether or not you want to subscribe to a publication, see if what they offer is what appeals to your needs.
Let’s start with a few broad sites:
RESTAURANT HOSPITALITY – in the About Us section they specify that they provide information to those who operate independent restaurants. The articles run the gamut from small venues to celebrity chef operations. Embedded videos inform about the flavor of the week, and news is current.
HOSPITALITY AND CATERING NEWS – is primarily UK focused, but breaks its menu into specified silos of news. From hospital kitchens to local pubs, they focus on the business end of things more than then current food trends.
FOOD SERVICE AND HOSPITALITY – a Canadian based source delivers on design to destination dining. This organization has been around since the 1960’s and while that may seem long ago, the news is on trend. A blog brings smaller touchpoints in the industry such as how to bring artisanal appeal to a large venue menu.
THE FOOD INSTITUTE – is a wide-reaching source for news, trends and business specific information. They offer their own online seminars and information about industry events. The membership offers greater insight and information that is not available to the general public, but the “free” information is specific and plentiful.
RELAIS & CHATEAUX – while not an industry specific, it is a great place to find out about what some of the most select restaurants and hotels in the world are doing. Start at the top and discover elements that you can bring into your business to make it flourish.
AIRBNB – want to see what you are competing against in the hotel industry these days? From how the site markets its listings to the listings themselves, AirBnB is an important player of information in today’s hospitality business.
MICHELIN – much like Relais & Chateaux, this is a public site to see what’s going on at the top of the food chain. Whether striving for a star or not, this is a great source for what’s happing around the world in some of the hottest restaurants.
EMERGING NEWS – information about growing a business in today’s environment. Offering articles on aspects that can and do affect a business to working directly through partnerships on strategic business building. The focus is more tightly defined.
THE BALANCE SMALL BUSINESS – restaurants are a section of this site, but the takeaway is that it offers information about being an entrepreneur and how to get started. Links to funding opportunities to where to locate a restaurant to how to name it, makes this a unique portal to look at.
FORBES.COM – a business magazine? Yes, they tend to touch on the restaurant and hospitality industry quite often (worth a read and lots of great links to other food industry resources – “10 Macro Trends Impacting Food And Beverage Innovation In 2019” by Barb Stucky (accessed 2/13/20)).
THE GOOD FOOD INSTITUTE – stepping outside the box. Plant based food is the “it”/”in” food, and it is not going to be a one-minute fad. This site offers resources galore from entrepreneurial endeavors to specified sources for Food Service and Restaurants.
PINTEREST – if inspirational ideas on how to decorate, plate food, or design a logo for your business is what you need, PINTEREST is a plethora of pictorial information. Think of it as a search engine of visual ideas. For example, floral arrangements for tables can help to set a very strong visual sense of connection from the customer to the restaurant. A search for restaurant table floral arrangement ideas brings up hundreds of posts. With so many, you are bound to find one that stimulates your interest and gives you an idea of what to put on your restaurant’s table.
INSTAGRAM – from big venues to the smallest food truck anywhere in the world, Instagram is about as up to the minute of what is going on as it comes. From plating food to hotel lobbies, there is an INSTAGRAM for it.
Not so obvious blogs with industry ideas:
WEBRESTAURANT.COM – mainly a restaurant supply store, but their industry specific blog holds some unique pieces of sourced information (“Interior Color Choices and Your Restaurant’s Image”)
The key takeaway is about going beyond the google. Start big, get ideas and then drill down. Most of these sites listed offer additional links to more specified information. The list below lists large entities with more “businessy” information and as you go down the list, there are modern blogs that are written in a less formalized business sense, but still give very honed insight as to what is happening out there. Bookmark them as reference links and as you discover what sources are the right ones for your business, you can narrow or expand the list.
Whether sitting at your desk at 1:00am after a long shift, or it’s your day off and you are sipping chamomile tea with your slippers on, learning and discovering more about your industry and incorporating that gleaned knowledge is what keeps it all fresh and appealing to your customers. There is a ton of information awaiting your discovery on how to take your business to the next level whether a start-up or a corporate chain in need of an au courant idea.
Further reference sites:
- Hospitality Design https://www.hospitalitydesign.com/news/
- Nation’s Restaurant News https://www.nrn.com
- HospitalityNet https://www.hospitalitynet.org/list/1-10/all-latest-news.html
- Restaurant Business https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com
- Modern Restaurant Management https://www.modernrestaurantmanagement.com
- NYT Food Section https://www.nytimes.com/section/food
- Cherry Bombe https://cherrybombe.com
- Food Network https://foodnetwork.com
- Food & Wine Magazine http://www.foodandwine.com
- Restaurant Owner https://www.restaurantowner.com
- Food Service Magazine https://www.fsrmagazine.com
- UpServe https://upserve.com
- American Hotel and Lodging Association https://www.ahla.com
- Toast Restaurant Blog https://pos.toasttab.com/blog
- Seven Fifty Daily https://daily.sevenfifty.com
- Eater https://www.eater.com
- The Restaurant Manifesto http://www.restaurantmanifesto.com
- Touch Bistro https://www.touchbistro.com/blog/