Veganism is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that is increasingly influencing the choices vegan tourists make in terms of the destinations they visit and hotels they stay in.
Vegan trend is driven by diverse target groups. From the pure vegans to the ‘flexitarians’ (people who actively seek to reduce their consumption of animal products without banning them from their menus altogether). These last are the growth segment with the highest potential: estimated at 10-30%. Almost one-third of Americans have reduced their meat and dairy consumption, and consider themselves flexitarians.
As the Hotels aspire to personalize each individual’s experience, veganism should be an area of knowledge and consciousness even before thinking about menus.
Vegan luxury travel is blossoming worldwide and food is arguably the biggest incentive for travelers, but the strategic planning of a guest itinerary that satisfies all moments of life in the hotel with definition of protocols and labeling is the only professional way to approach it. Beverage and lifestyle should get the same attention of food.
The New York Times recently stated "Menus aren’t the only vegan aspects of hotels in the animal-free vanguard. Rooms are going vegan with plant-based amenities and interior design."
Let’s see how to design a successful Vegan Experience.
Define the budget/establish goals
The first steps toward the design of the perfect vegan experience are defining a budget and the goal to achieve. Defining a budget to be allocated to the project will allow to move confidently within it. The budget will, first of all, understand if it is possible to rely on an external professionals or to move independently.
Once defined the budget it is very important to decide how far to go. The commitment can basically gravitate within three main goals to achieve:
- To satisfy established clients
- To open up to a new market niche
- To become a landmark
Once the objectives and budget have been defined, it is necessary to collect the informations already in the possession of the hotel. Start from what the hotel already knows about its guests. If there have already been requests in the past and of what kind. What are the traditional top sellers (dishes and drinks). Involving the heads of service who are in contact with clients at this stage is essential.
This will give access to informations that may not have been officially collected, as well as making them feel an integral part of the creation of the new services. Having a basic idea of the preferences of the guests will enable the creation of proposals in line with them.
The collection of this valuable informations can also be functional for future monitoring of the performance of the new services provided. Take advantage of the opportunity to establish a workflow of informations that all have access to and that can be constantly updated with the preferences of clients.
The workflow should also include a measure of satisfaction of the new services offered. For example, add the Vegan Experience segment to your KPI (Key Performance Indicator) measurements.
Monitor the Retention Rate and Net Promoter Score of these customers. So the return rate of this specific niche of guests and how likely are they to recommend and promote your facility.
Do not start with this step if the previous ones haven’t been defined. This is what can be considered the fun part. But it can also be the most demanding. Getting to know the topic is the beginning and this phase should be very scrupulous. Approaching the theme with improvisation risks setting services that, when compared with the classic experiences, can be detrimental or even mistakenly include non-vegan ingredients. or elements. It is therefore imperative to know the subject and train the staff properly. Once this is done you can go ahead with creativity and mindfulness. It is very important to never neglect the two key points 'divertissement' and discretion. The guests of a luxury hotel demands exclusivity. The path without animal proteins has to be rich, elegant and surprising, but without causing a stir, making them feel 'different'.
There is often a reticence in wanting to indicate the vegan options in the menu and then propose them promptly upon request. There almost seems to be a fear of being labeled the wrong way. In reality, this kind of attention not only frees the guest from the embarrassment of having to request out of paper but also gives the Hotel a healthy vision that is attentive to environmental sustainability. The experience must be exclusive and accessible at the same time.
Once the Vegan Experience has been defined and structured, it is essential that its presence and availability is properly promoted. There is nothing worse than having services available that are never used by customers. The investment made can in fact be paid back quickly as well as create new revenue opportunities if accompanied by an adequate communication strategy. I refer to both On and Off line communication. What goes on social media and website as well as the informations that the guests receive at the property. A Campaign could wisely be promoted around it to boost the image of the Hotel.