How hoteliers can capitalise on the UK’s love of dessert


With an 881% increase in sales of baking trays and a 30% rise in sales of flour, sugar and eggs – this August saw Great British Bake Off fever hit the nation once again, and cakes, bakes and desserts are the only thing on customers’ minds. Emma Warrington, Senior Food Buyer at Beacon explains how hoteliers too can cash in on the boom.

With the food menu being an important part of a guest’s stay and an opportunity for hoteliers to really demonstrate their creative flair, it’s vital to keep your menu up to date and in line with current trends. There’s no doubt that the popularity of shows such as the Great British Bake Off has put a much wider array of dessert options in the public eye, which is impacting the hotel dessert trolley.

Whereas a few years ago menus were filled with traditional options such as profiteroles and pavlova, now customers are coming to expect a lot more variety and exotic flavours on the menu, and chefs are having to work hard to keep ahead of the curve. Although the classics should remain on the menu as a way to drive consistent dessert sales, it’s important to consider your specials board and added value options as a way to increase profits.

Story continues below

Perfect your portions
As Britain becomes ever more health conscious, it’s more of a challenge to convince customers to follow their meal with dessert. According to research by Foodwatching, over a third of consumers agree they would be more likely to order a dessert if a miniature portion was available, so consider offering a selection of mini puddings alongside your menu, to attract diners who might pass on a full plate. Taster plates are also a good option to boost sales – try grouping three or more complementary desserts to pitch as a sharing dessert, or a treat for one. Furthermore, consider your dessert menu as a stand-alone offering, rather than simply an extension of your dinner or lunchtime offer. With the rise of all day dining, many consumers are choosing to eat out for dessert on its own, as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack – to take advantage of this, ensure you effectively communicate the times that your menus are available.

Keep it seasonal
Try to use local, seasonal produce wherever possible in your desserts, updating your menu each season to keep choices in line with the fruits of the season. Research from The Pub Visiting 2015 report by Mintel revealed that 54% of people choose dishes with locally sourced ingredients, and 38% pick plates with seasonal ingredients. Fruit salads are still in the top ten desserts for hoteliers, according to the Horizons Menurama report, so as summer starts to draw to a close, try updating fruit salads with blackberries and plums. Other desserts can also benefit from an autumnal twist, such as pear and Bramley apple tarte tatin, or pumpkin swirled on top of brownies.

Time for tea
It’s not all about the desserts when it comes to sweet treats at your hotel, as afternoon tea can offer the perfect indulgent experience, creating an additional occasion to boost sales. While afternoon tea is a traditional British staple, hotels are increasingly moving away from the quintessential finger sandwiches and cream scones to attract customers. Consider adding subtle twists such as brioche or sourdough bread to your sandwiches to add a point of difference, but bear in mind that classic flavours still win, with 39% of people choosing smoked salmon as the perfect filling in a recent survey by Keep seasonality in mind too by choosing speciality jams – strawberry in summer and hedgerow jams such as damson or blackberry in autumn. And don’t forget the tea – a recent study by Mintel found that black tea sales had dropped by 13% between 2012 and 2014, whereas green, fruit and herbal teas were up by 31%, suggesting a trend towards healthier, herbal alternatives among consumers.