The Great Wolf Lodge Shares the Best Avenue for Success
Being at the forefront of new up-and-coming trends is an important part of the Hospitality and Food Industries. Whether you are a hotel owner or the head chef at a restaurant, you need to stay aware of what is happening in the industry, know what people are asking for, and anticipate what guests don’t even know they want. The main challenge is anticipating and responding to the changing needs of the industry. So, how do you go about this? From trade shows and print publications, to online blogs and social media – which is the best avenue to success? Variety is the key. After all, just because an idea is new, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. It comes down to researching and determining which ideas and trends can be incorporated into your business in a way that will please your guests. Chris Hammond, Corporate Director of Food & Beverage with Great Wolf Resorts, shares his methods with us on researching new concepts and innovations in this ever-changing industry.
Jodi Brzustowicz (JB): How long have you been in the Hospitality Industry?
Chris Hammond (CH): 20 years.
JB: What do you think is the key to your success?
CH: Being able to adapt to guests needs but remaining true to my core values of hospitality.
JB: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your business?
CH: It’s always better to seek to understand then be understood.
JB: In an ever-changing industry where new concepts and innovations are the norm, where do you go to find new ideas or trends in the industry? Trade shows, media sources? Which do you find the most resourceful?
CH: I go to the National Restaurant Association Show (NRA) every couple of years, the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions Expo (IAAPA) and the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Show (NAFEM) just to keep an eye on what is new and upcoming.
I spend a lot of time reading 100 Days of Real Food & Food Babe on Facebook, and I follow about 100 of my favorite restaurants on Instagram.
JB: Why do you think those are the best resources?
CH: The trade shows are good because you see what the next best things are, but the media sources, especially Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food and Vani from Food Babe, are real people with a real message, and have a ton of followers who just happen to be some of our guests.
JB: In the past year or so, Great Wolf Lodge began opening the Lodge Wood Fired Grill in multiple properties. What brought about this idea? How did you “research” the idea prior to the openings?
CH: We knew that we had to change our food options and give the restaurant a refresh, we did a lot of research on what other restaurants were doing well and reviewed trends of what our guests were looking and asking for. We spent months testing recipes and food ideas until we came up with our current menu. Lodge Wood Fired Grill is now in six of our locations.
JB: What changes or new trends have you seen lately in the Hospitality and Food Industries? How have you and Great Wolf Lodge adapted to these changes?
CH: Customization is huge right now and so is having healthier/fresher options. But not every guest we have is interested in that so we had to find a balance of how to do both. We do that by offering the guest choices. If you would like to have a salad with your sandwich instead of fries, we have that; if you would like a side of organic spinach, we have that; if you would prefer your kids have organic juice or milk and vegetables with their meal, we have that too. But if you’re on vacation and you want to indulge with a great burger and fries, we also have that.
JB: What do you think will be the big trend of 2015?
CH: Awareness. I don’t think of it to be a specific food trend, but consumers are much more aware and educated about what kind of foods they are eating and what they are feeding their children. It is important for us to understand that and be educated, and to make sure that what we are creating or what we have in testing right now fits this trend. We must be in front of our guests with our choices. Guests like to know that you are thinking of them first, and we want them to know that we hear their voices and are actively seeking ways to improve their food experiences at Great Wolf.