Foodservice is the biggest segment of the hospitality industry. It is always referred to as Food and Beverage, professionally abbreviated as F&B. It is the leading part of hotel management that generates a lot of income. It is also a delicate section that should be handled with care even by the government through laws, regulations, and policies. This highly profitable segment is, therefore, affected by a lot of political issues which influence the number of sales and consequently profits. However, the hospitality industry has faced some of these political issues over and over, and in one way or the other has been able to adjust to them, or adapt to these issues when they arise for they are mostly cyclic.
Currently, restaurants are operating under the set regulations and are stable. That is to say, there is no anticipation of a change in administration which would, in effect, change laws and policies that concern the food and beverage sector. This also means that customer spending in restaurants remains constant (Burger & Brownell, 2009). Therefore, profits are steadily rising. An introduction of say a new bill regarding this sector would upset the whole operations. This is unforeseeable and should it happen; managers and investors must act quickly to adjust while the bill is still a motion. Elections are almost predictable and regular. Therefore, market leaders have developed a trait of maintaining neutrality during such times so that clients don't have to choose restaurants on political grounds. The managers, as well as the staff members, have always remained apolitical during such times. Advertising media for restaurants always claim no political ground. The goal of F&B is to always make a profit all year round.
Outside the restaurant premises, however, the restaurant owners always choose political sides with politicians whom they think to have policies that will support their ventures. Such support comes in the form of certain certifications, increasing the minimum wage to motivate their employees, adjustments to immigration policies so they can get employees from other countries and partnership programs which champion for healthy eating habits which would see their restaurants recognized as such and thus attract many clients.
The times for political competitions, campaigns that are, usually bring with it a unique atmosphere in the economy. People are always anticipating major changes in the economy quite negatively. They also expect tight national budgets and thus tighten theirs too. This means that they will reduce the number of times they frequent dining out or if they do they significantly reduce their spending. This period usually creates tension and instability and declaring ones political stand in the restaurant may make the patrons take their business elsewhere especially if they don't agree with your opinion. Restaurant managers and employees have always avoided political discussions completely.
Some investors are always quick to spot a looming wind of change and so always act fast before it happens. These usually have their inside sources in the government or media house that whisper to them looming legislation. A tavern owner may get tipped off about a ban on liquor stores early enough and they may act fast and convert the tavern into a restaurant or dinner. Also, some policies like smoke-free restaurants in Michigan State have seen restaurants making huge profits due to increased sales. This is because a lot of guests prefer a clean environment and so restaurants, where smoking is prohibited, attract most of them.
This is the most important part of the F&B and is also the most affected by political policies. Legislations determine how workers are paid the wage bill, which ones are hired through the immigration policy, the extra earnings through tipping policies and compulsory health care. Perhaps among all these, the most controversial topic in the country right now is the tipping system. While some restaurants maintain their tipping at 20%, others let guests choose whether to tip or not, and some management doesn't care about the tipping at all. However, many waiters and waitresses are championing for the 20% and given the massive online campaign and discussion about the same, the lawmakers might just pick the topic and deliberate upon it. The immigration policies affect foreign cuisines significantly. Some restaurants prefer to have a professional chef who is also a decent of the specific foreign cuisine they choose, for instance, a Spaniard if the restaurant style is Spanish. In response to the disability acts, restaurants are investing in infrastructure that accommodates the disabled too. This might be quite costly.
Political policies also dictate that restaurant menus must be designed in such a way that they reflect efforts of fighting dietetic conditions like childhood obesity, uphold the safety of food, have correct labeling and are sensitive to allergy concerns (Powers & Barrows, 2006). Restaurants, therefore, are to some extent restrained by these kinds of regulations when developing the menu. The most critical item here is the labeling which managers are paying so much attention to. That is the labeling. A misleading labeling especially on gluten and gluten-free items can cost the restaurant billions if not shut it down.
A lot of taxation regulations affect F&B sector significantly. Reducing meal tax deduction, for instance, is a very painful ordeal or most restaurants. Tax laws which apply to restaurants such as the swipe fees for credit-cards, sales tax, are all politically motivated. Managers and restaurant owners are, however, working on menu pricing that compensates for every inconvenience caused by any unfair tax policy.
The policies that are conscious of climate change encourage eco-friendly activities. While this may be a lot of obstacles for many establishments, some see them as opportunities to attract eco-friendly customers. They partner with agricultural organizations to feature in environmental magazines and publications; to present themselves as establishments which encourage organic food and environmental protection (Benjamin &Virkler, 2016). They also partner with local environmental movements in an attempt to appear complying with the environmental legislation. The result is that they get chosen over many by conferences that are environmentally set up. These restaurants also package their food in bio-degradable packets.
The political activities and policies established in the local state where the restaurant is operating also affect its activities. For instance, a state may require that a certain percentage of employees are obtained from the hosting state. Aware of this, restaurant management designs their employment structure in such a way that space is created for the locals. State governments also act as the watchdogs for the federal government and must, therefore, be adhered to as well. An establishment owned by someone from outside the state may actually want to keep off the political activities there for that would stir hate from the locals and even make them avoid your restaurant.
While restaurants may want to attract more people or senior government officials using images of prominent political figures that frequent their establishment, there are regulations in place that restrict such exposure. This also applies to celebrity clients. Their eating habits, the time they frequently visit, who they visit the establishment must all be kept confidential as per the law. This law denies the establishments opportunities to attract all the fans of such public icons. However, the management of these establishments has discovered an alternative to this which involves signing a deal with such celebrities for endorsements.
Laws in almost every state requires strict adherence to the data security policy which requires that customer data from their cards are kept securely with no possibility of getting compromised. This policy has seen restaurants invest in high technology card payment systems with reinforced security features. This also pushes restaurants to create an extra slot for an IT expert who constantly monitors the operations of the restaurants' information systems management.
Emergency and Fire Preparedness
The federal laws require that every restaurant is equipped with emergency kits. Also, they are required to always be prepared to handle fire outbreaks. Therefore, F&B establishments further spend on training workers first aid skills and conduct an emergency drill frequently. They thus have inflated expenditure due to these policies.
The government updates these guidelines periodically depending on the latest research in the same field. This is to guide citizens in their eating habits and so avoid diseases caused by poor eating habits. While these are legislation passed by politicians, they affect restaurants because they dictate the kind of food and drinks these restaurants have to offer. They generally determine how the menus are designed. This kind of a policy actually limits the number of food items a restaurant may have to offer. In the future, a restaurant may have to invest in dietetic research too.
Food waste policy
There are specific guidelines as to how food waste should be handled. This is not just the leftovers but is also about the overall wastage of food. Given widespread cases of famine and hunger, the government is sensitive to the amount of food that goes to waste in restaurants. It is estimated that close to 40% of the food supply in the country go to waste and that happens mostly in restaurants. The problem is that such food ends in the environment affecting the environment negatively. An establishment can actually be sued for that under environmental laws and policies. Various restaurant management teams are working on food donation programs to avoid waste.
Benjamin, D., & Virkler, L. (2016). Farm to table: the essential guide to sustainable food systems for students, professionals, and consumers. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
Berger, F., & Brownell, J. (2009). The organizational behavior for the hospitality industry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Powers, T. F., & Barrows, C. W. (2006). Introduction to the hospitality industry. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
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