Serving customers with food allergies is more than just ensuring that food is allergy-safe. That’s the most important thing, of course, and we recently posted about how to explain food allergies to hotel kitchen staff. But guests don’t just want to be safe, they want to feel safe. We asked our Facebook community what makes them feel confident and cared for, and here are some of the answers:
I like to hear from either the chef or kitchen manager that there a a few specific people who "take over" when there are food allergy concerns.
Hotels often have frequent turnover of waitstaff and kitchen help, so it is important that a more seasoned employee is in charge of serving guests with allergies. This person should be reasonably knowledgeable and have experience with allergic customers.
Showcase their knowledge and awareness about handling food allergies in the kitchen.
When hotel staff show that they understand how dangerous allergies can be, how to avoid cross-contact and what hidden allergens to check for, guests are more confident that they are in good hands. Part of a hotel experience is the ability to relax and let someone else worry about technical details, and kitchen staff who take the stress out of meals for families with allergies get huge brownie points.
Say "Our kitchen has peanuts and tree nuts in it. But we will do a, b, c to make sure your meal is safe.”
Guests with food allergies want to hear which specific steps are being taken to ensure the food is allergy-free. The more information they have, the more informed a decision they can make about whether to trust the meal. If kitchen staff says they are preparing allergy-free meals separately from the regular menu and sterilizing tools and work stations, this inspires confidence and helps guests feel that they are well-cared for.
How much their attitude can make or break an experience.
When hotel kitchen staff is happy to accommodate and show it, that's amazing. When they act like the allergic guest is a burden they can't wait to get rid of, the guest and her family will not be able to truly enjoy themselves. Even if the food is allergy-free and delicious, if guests are treated as a troublesome duty, the experience will not be a positive one.
Don’t give out welcome gifts that contain allergens without asking guests if they are allergic first.
Starting a vacation worrying about a possible allergic reaction isn’t the best kind of welcome. If hotels provide food in welcome baskets, they should either include foods that don’t contain allergens or ask about allergies before leaving the basket in the room.
Make playrooms food-free zones.
When families with young children come to a hotel, they can really relax if their kids are occupied and enjoying themselves. Playrooms are an integral part of that, a time when parents can chill and chat while their kids are entertained. But when there is food everywhere, parents need to be constantly vigilant or even keep their kids away from the playroom, and that takes away from their ability to decompress.
What do you wish hotels knew about serving guests with allergies?