The term “bespoke” is rooted in the verb “discuss”. The word refers to the practice of discussing, arranging or commissioning beforehand in ordering goods or services. Bespoke is primarily known for its centuries-old British tradition of custom made shoes, suits and dresses. The word "bespoke" as applied to fine tailoring, is understood to have originated in the vibrant London district of Mayfair and came to mean a suit measured, cut and made by hand. Customers and patrons would have their personal specific measurements retained and archived by tailors; the individually cut patterns could be altered and subtly adjusted for future orders. Bespoke is generally understood to signify something that is custom made to order.
In its contemporary usage bespoke implies exclusivity and is a major component in marketing and branding since it appeals to a sense of the personal and individual. As Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University linguistics professor wrote, the word bespoke for Americans has tapped into "…our individualism. We want everything made special for us. Even when it comes to salad bars.” The customization movement in food and beverage has grown beyond the classic slogan “ Have it your way-hold the pickles, hold the lettuce”* and has expanded to complete product personalization as in those offered in coffee houses, create-your-own salad concepts, juice and smoothie bars, even home delivery meals. Coca-Cola ™ reinvented the soda fountain experience by introducing Coca-Cola Freestyle ™ technology that offers nearly 200 customizable drink recipe options. Bar beverage programs are upping their whistle-wetting game and expanding their craft cocktail menus by enlisting the bespoke approach, providing one-on-one consultations to create cocktails perfectly matched to a guests’ own personal taste. These days, mere choice and variety are not enough. Consumers know what they want: products that match their personal preferences, needs and perspectives.
The notion of bespoke is woven into the fabric of club business. Customization and personalization is in the DNA of club food and beverage operations. Members request food and beverage tailored to their tastes and clubs have many tools to deliver upon these demands. We know from the use of resources such as member profiles and feedback the specific preferences and tastes of each member, from a favorite beverage preparation to a special dessert. If the profile system is comprehensive and up to date, this data can be as extensive to include family member likes. For example, we know from compiling a member preference list that when Mr. Smith finishes a round of golf he wants to enjoy an Arnold Palmer, heavier on the lemonade, extra ice on the side, a cup of vegetarian chili and a to go order for his wife that consists of a club sandwich on toasted wheat bread, very light mayo, and a side of seasonal fruit (no pineapple, please). Tapping into these systems ensures a personalized experience and caters to the sweet spot in member satisfaction and fulfillment.
Club dining outlets are some of the most accessible places to successfully engage membership. When a food and beverage team strives to get to know, recognize and respond to a member’s personal, unique preferences and provides service accordingly, that suits the member just fine.
*Burger King ™
Chef Mary Howley is the culinary consultant to the RCS Hospitality Group and a former Executive Chef of her own catering company, several country clubs, and fine dining restaurants. She studied throughout Europe and honed her skills on the East Coast working with a myriad of culinary styles. She had the honor to serve as research and development chef for Food Unlimited, and held the position of Pastry Chef in two James Beard Dinner Events. Contact her at mary@consultingRCS.com or visit the RCS website at www.consultingRCS.com.