The largest full-service and conference hotel in Trondheim, Scandic Nidelven Hotel, has won the Twinings Best Breakfast award 11 years in a row. Now researchers have taken a closer look: How do they actually manage to get people to book a hotel room because of the food?

For more than ten years, the Scandic Nidelven Hotel (formerly known as Rica Nidelven) in Trondheim, Norway has won the Twinings Best Breakfast award for its buffet breakfast. Food and tourism researchers from Norwegian Centre for Rural Research and Nofima have studied the progress and brand of the hotel, and the interaction between suppliers and manufacturers.
Use of rural suppliers
The “secret recipe” seems to be the regional suppliers, both small and large, who supply the hotel with food specialties that cannot be bought in regular grocery stores. The suppliers are small farms and slightly larger small-scale enterprises, specializing in for example seafood, meat, cheese or vegetables.
– The hotel has connections to more than 15 suppliers so that it always has access to a wide variety of seafood, meat, dairy products and vegetables from the region, says senior researcher at Centre for Rural Research Magnar Forbord.
The rural suppliers are happy about this arrangement, too. It contributes to stable income and secures their position so that the suppliers can deliver to other hotels and private clients.
– It’s enjoyable to be a supplier to Rica Nidelven. It has ripple effect and is good advertisement, says a supplier researchers interviewed.
Bad hotel food
Former hotel manager Bjarte Gjerde has since the opening of the hotel in 2003 had as a primary goal to serve high-quality local food. Back then, it was almost common knowledge that the hotel food in Norway was bad. Gjerde wanted to do something about this. Therefore, investing in local food by regional suppliers was part of the main strategy for the hotel.
Early challenges
Since its opening in 2003 the hotel has been in contact with more than 30 specialty food producers, and cooperating with these suppliers was somewhat problematic in the beginning. Making sure the food kept its good quality all the way from the producers to the hotel kitchen was a challenge, especially when it came to delivery and product durability.
Despite the initial challenges, the Rica hotel chain realized there was possible to add value to the hotels through food experiences. Along with Innovation Norway and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Rica hotel chain and KSL Matmerk established a food project to find the best practices for selecting and training the specialty food suppliers.
Positive impacts
As a result of the project, producers were required to pay a fee of 8.5 percent of sales to the Rica chain to be certified as specialty food suppliers.
– Thus, the producers’ routines improved, and the hotel experienced increased reliability of deliveries, concerning both product quality and delivery methods, says Forbord.
The more stringent requirements led to better cooperation between the hotel and the producers, which in turn led to more knowledge and ingenuity. Hotel guests were so excited about the food and the good marking that the producers won acclaim and are now in demand elsewhere, including the biweekly Farmer’s Market in the city centre.
Tourist attraction
Local food as a brand has given the hotel a lot of attention and positive publicity. The hotel has not experienced a decline in overnight stays and conferences after the merger and subsequent name change from Rica Nidelven to Scandic Nidelven in 2015. Thus, the hotel can be called a tourist attraction.
– The hotel sells many rooms because of the food, says former hotel director Bjarte Gjerde.
Magnar Forbord (2016). Food as Attraction: Connections between a hotel and supplier of specialty food. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 3(16). DOI: 10.1080 / 15022250.2015.1108860. Summary

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