Navigating Rising Costs: A Call to Prudent Hospitality Management

Dale J. Venturini
President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association

In the world of hospitality, where exceptional service and memorable experiences are paramount, the rising tide of labor, food and supply costs threatens to drown businesses that don't adapt.

One of the most crucial aspects of managing costs in the hospitality sector is to carefully assess every expenditure. Are you reviewing all of your costs to determine what is truly necessary? In times like these, when every dollar counts, this practice becomes more vital than ever. Let's delve into a few specific areas where we can exercise prudence without compromising quality.

For those in foodservice, there is an age-old tradition of automatically providing bread and water to restaurant patrons. While it may seem like a simple gesture of hospitality, it's likely time to reconsider this practice.How many times have we seen uneaten bread left on tables, destined for the trash? By asking guests if they want bread before serving it, we not only save on the cost of the bread itself, but also reduce the waste disposal expenses associated with untouched bread. Moreover, we can minimize the labor cost of slicing, plating, delivering, and cleaning up after uneaten bread.

Water, seemingly a low-cost item, also demands scrutiny. The cost of providing water extends beyond the water itself. There are expenses associated with the server's time and effort to serve it, the glassware used, the energy of the ice maker, and the disposal of water, which can incur sewer charges. Cleaning the glassware also adds to the labor cost. By offering water only upon request, we can significantly reduce these overheads while still maintaining our commitment to customer service.

Additionally, let's consider the broader perspective of rising costs in the hospitality industry. The price of essential commodities including food and energy has surged in recent times, impacting not only restaurants but also hotels and all other facets of our sector. In light of supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures, it’s good practice to evaluate procurement strategies and adapt to a changing economic landscape.

One effective approach is to explore local sourcing options. By forging partnerships with local producers and suppliers, we can reduce transportation costs, support our communities, and ensure a more stable supply chain. This not only lowers costs, but also aligns with the growing trend of sustainable and locally sourced offerings, which resonates with today's conscientious consumers.

It’s crucial to invest in staff training and retention. High employee turnover is expensive, as it requires continuous recruitment and on-the-spot training efforts. By fostering a positive work environment, offering competitive wages, and providing opportunities for career advancement, we can reduce the financial strain associated with our industry’s constant staffing changes.

As we continue to navigate these challenging times, collaboration within the hospitality industry and with government agencies becomes paramount. Advocating for policies that support our businesses, such as tax relief and streamlined regulations, can help alleviate some of the financial burdens we face.

The rising costs affecting restaurants, hotels, and the entire hospitality industry demand our attention and adaptation. By reevaluating traditional practices, exploring local sourcing options, and investing in staff training and retention, we can take control of some financial challenges while continuing to offer exceptional experiences to our guests.

Let us work together as an industry, and with our partners, to ensure the sustainability and success of the hospitality sector in Rhode Island and beyond, no matter the economic landscape.

For more on RIHA’s efforts, please visit: