Breakfast An Important Event #2 – Quality

I presented in article # 1 a method for breakfast content. At the end of this article on Quality, the goal is to boost your customer satisfaction and your e-reputation based on the quality criterion. Breakfast is neither a cost center nor a profit center, it is an image investment.

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This is a subject that is particularly close to my heart. The quality of the breakfast was one of my failures at first. In 2012, following the opening of Hi Matic Paris, I took over the management of the establishment.

One of the strengths of the Hi Matic was undeniably its exemplary breakfast. 100% ORGANIC and regional products: the fruits came from an early stage relay of responsible producers in rue de Charonne.

An eco-certified supplier relayed our jams, our juices, our yogurts. The bread was exemplary: ORGANIC and old-fashioned, delivered every morning. Everything was presented with humor on an airplane type set.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "hi matic paris petit dejeuner"

On my arrival, the total cost of breakfast (production and service costs) was estimated at 7€ excluding tax per person and… was included in the room rate. My first action was to isolate the breakfast from the accommodation pricing.

I first priced it at cost, 7€  as to not offend guests. A few months later, I set it at 10€, since no one was complaining. Everything was going relatively well until, for internal reasons, my budget was drastically reduced. Based on my operating account, I reduced the variable expense lines (rationalization of laundry costs) and fixed expense lines (renegotiation of equipment maintenance).

So far nothing irrational. But still under budget, I did the worst: cut back on the budget for consumables (this budget line correlates to what the customer sees: it includes breakfast, hospitality products, customer care). I reduced the perception of quality hence the quality of the breakfast. All the elements remained ORGANIC but I replaced the jams and the yogurts in glass containers for plastic packaging; the organic juices that were in small glass bottles with larger, more economical bottles.

I suffered sever backlash on my e-reputation. I didn’t understand that the guest’s dissatisfaction (because of small and confortable rooms) was compensated in the morning by a high standard breakfast. I dropped down 500 slots on my Trip Advisor ranking and lost 1.5 points on, due to the inadequate new breakfast and poor choices. In retrospect, the best solution was to leave, instead of saving a ship that was bound to reduce its quality.

The establishment today no longer exists, but the lesson remains: cutting back on breakfast is like chopping off the branch you’re sitting on. If breakfast had such a compensatory virtue in Hi Matic’s case, imagine the boosting effects it can have on an establishment that has the means to ensure its quality.

Since that experience, I always bet on breakfast. Whether you are 1 * or 5 *, offer the best products, imagine the best setting, identify the best quality concept for your establishment. Especially not industrial and plastic. It seems harsh, it is, but our guests are too and their eco-responsible sensitivity is growing, often beyond our hotel proposals (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.) Bulk purchasing alternatives (dried fruits season) and maxi packaging (jam jars, cream cheese bowls) are praised by contemporary customers.

I specified in the previous article « # 1 Content » that we are hotelkeepers not restaurateurs. Yet, they are very close to our establishments, work a lot like us and live in part from the clientele of our establishments. We did our studies together; after graduation ceremony, we lost sight and rarely saw each other again… or very occasionally during family celebrations at CHR salons. We parted ways. However, when you think about it, a formidable synergy is possible between restaurateurs and hotelkeepers!

Let’s bring a restaurateur in our walls once or twice before launching a breakfast to get their opinion. Our restaurateur friends have decisive advice for us. They taste every day, collect numerous guest feedback, shape recipes and plate presentations. In all cases, friend or neighbor, choose a restaurateur from an establishment who favors a level of quality and culinary proposal close to you.

Two axes to explore:

  • the breakfast environment.
  • the heart of the matter: product selection and tasting.

1. Environment

We won’t have them come in every day, so let’s take advantage of the restaurateur’s presence to asses a quality environment for breakfast (organization of space, atmosphere, hygiene).

You take in his opinion:

– setting up, presentation of dishes, organization of the buffet, crockery.

– the musical atmosphere.

– circulation (entry and exit spaces, positioning of tables and chairs).

– back office ergonomics, equipment and utensils, hygiene and safety standards.

The list is not exhaustive, I do not know much about restaurateurs. They will be able to give you the best advice on site.

2. Tasting

My first assumption is the definition of product quality:

  • Objective criteria:
    • Controlled origin: Organic products and regional origin.
    • The freshness.
    • Nutritional quality: I recommend a variety of breads (with dried fruits, seeds) and wholemeal breads (spelled, barely processed wheat, and rye, low in gluten). I compromise with the viennoiseries, with pure butter (ideally Isigny butter and Surgères butter), never margarine. “Croissants” and “pain au chocolat” are emblematic in France. Despite their nutritional poverty, it is a must have, our customers expect it and we are at their service.

These objective criterias are to be verified, point by point, with the restaurateur during the tasting.

  • Subjective criterion:
    • The flavor. Given the subjectivity of the criterion, it should be ideally shared and compared to taste professionals.

My second premise is that, whatever hotel category, we must choose the best, according to the specified criteria of objective and subjective quality. If you offer bananas, offer the best. If you offer bread, offer the best. If you offer salmon, offer the best. If a range is too expensive for your budget, do not select it. If you select a range, select the best one.

When we invest in quality, we reap the quality. Our guests feel it immediately and you gain a competitive advantage. Breakfast comes out of convenience and becomes a quality badge in its own right. Your bad e-reputation comments on quality and price are likely to be diminished.

Quality doesn’t have to be expensive. Lack of or loss of quality costs much more.

Practical Case

You organize a tasting morning with one or more catering professionals. You wish to select with your jury the best quality jam. On the basis of your objective quality criteria (regional origin, organic origin, fresh products), your breakfast supplier has already made a pre-selection and sent samples to the hotel.

You planned to test three price ranges: low, medium, high. This budget is an investment, not a loss. You taste with the F&B professionals blindly, to avoid the influence of the brand or the packaging… The content is served on a white plate. For each product you request and note the feedback.

Case Study

This comes from a personal experience. The owner of the COQ enlisted twice the help of a Chef to achieve the ideal cooking and presentation of an egg at the COQ, the establishment’s best-selling product. Two mornings were needed with the professional. What could be more « simple » than a boiled egg? However, the eggs must be ultra-fresh and the perfect size for ideal cooking.

© COQ Hotel Paris

Eggs should be at room temperature one hour before cooking. As soon as the water starts to boil, they are dipped with a spoon for in the water three minutes. The trick is to add lemon juice to the cooking water to strengthen the egg in to prevent cracking. If they are not served, they should be stored in water at precisely 60°C.

This dish makes the e-reputation of the COQ and shines for breakfast. The expertise of a professional ensured the quality of the boiled egg and its image.

This expertise is that of catering specialists and can be applied to all hotel breakfasts.

With the help of restaurant owners and a high demand for quality, we can now say for our breakfasts: « I have the simplest tastes in the world, I’m content with the best ». (Oscar Wilde, Les Pensées).


Must Do

Quality, is above all, breakfast service. Hiring caring and attentive people to provide this service during which the guest has just woken up and may feel vulnerable.


Doing quality is excellent, letting people know is even better. Communicate in the dining room and in some living areas (elevators, hallway, reception, and even entrance to attract external guests) you can choose the composition and the origin of your breakfast.  Your guests will report it on social media almost word for word.

The next article will deal with the pricing for breakfast,  #Pricing. Have a nice day !