Business Perspective: Visiting Cocoa Beach, Florida
Destination: Coca Beach, Florida.
The Drive to Cocoa Beach, FL.
The drive to Cocoa Beach was rather relaxing. For the most part, from the Orlando area, Route 528 will take you almost directly to the hotel. In our venture, the traffic was light which was surprising for a Saturday evening. The only time we really had traffic lights was when we actually got into the heart of Cocoa Beach.
From a business perspective: Traveling to Cocoa Beach from the Orlando, FL., area is a bit pricey because of tolls on this route. However, this issue may be avoided by using Interstate 4 to Interstate 95.
Hilton Garden Inn, Cocoa Beach, FL... First Impression.
For this business perspective venture to Cocoa Beach, Florida, we chose the Hilton Garden Inn for our night layover. In pulling up to the hotel, we found it a bit confusing for entry because there were two entrances, and the hotel was tucked WAY in the back of the lot. The entrance driveway was a bit long, as well, probably ¼ of a mile. Further, the parking lot was structured differently, with it being in front of the hotel. Regardless, the first impression of the hotel was that it was a bit dated. From our experiences, this is typical for most Hilton Beach hotels. At least it was our experience for our Clearwater business perspective trip.
The hotel lobby was a stark contrast to the external shell. The lobby had a Starbucks to the right and a welcoming helpdesk smack dab in front of us. The attendant was as delightful as the lobby was inviting. Not only did he quickly take our payment, but he also educated us about the hotel amenities, opening and closing hours of the pool bar, lobby bar, and starlet restaurant.
From a business perspective: Exceptional customer service when greeting guests for the first time is critical for setting a positive first impression. Well done, Hilton Garden Inn!
Room for the Night
The room we were provided was located on the third floor. Our studio room included a couple of desks, a luggage rack, flatscreen TV, and a small balcony overlooking the expansive parking lot. Fortunately, when we are on the balcony, there is a view of the ocean. However, the ambiance was lost because of the distance the room was from the ocean.
From a business perspective: The balcony room upgrade may not have been worth the price paid. In my opinion, if you offer a balcony room on the beach, at least make it close to it.
The hotel pool bar was equivalent to a hole in the wall encompassing about 100 ft.²… and that assessment is being generous. However, the pool bar was stocked with essentials, which were blenders for daiquiris, a few bar seats, and numerous shelves with a wide selection of rums, vodkas, tequilas, and other delectable liquors. Further, not only was there a bartender but also several servers as well. The pool bar menu consisted of cocktails, beers, and wines, with a decent selection of food items as well.
From a business perspective: Having servers assisting the bar staff is a great business structure. Not only are customers well served, but it also ensures optimal revenue generation because of the convenience pool guest are provided. What could be simpler than ordering a drink and lunch from a pool chair?
The hotel itself was pretty basic, with few outstanding amenities or other characteristics. For example, it is not close to a boardwalk or conveniently located near shopping opportunities, at least within walking distance. However, it was on the beach.
Also, there was a nice wooden walkway on both sides of the hotel, both of which led to the beach. The walkways led through dunes and had a third wooden walkway connecting the two walkways. The connecting walkway had several umbrellas and wooden seats, all facing the ocean.
On our first stroll to the beach, down the twisting wooden walkway, we noticed a monstrosity of a gopher turtle sunning itself. This giant was at least 2 feet in length. By far one of the largest gopher turtles we have had the pleasure of meeting.
From a business perspective: the overall ambiance of the hotel, especially from a beach perspective, was that it’s away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Cocoa Beach. Because of this competitive advantage, the hotel should be advertising it as such. A missed opportunity, in my most humble opinion.
Dining: Nosh Restaurant, Cocoa Beach, FL.
My wife and I conducted diligent research, as usual, into some of the best restaurants in the area. Since we were on the beach, seafood was our target market. We found numerous seafood and sushi restaurants in the area, but the one that had the best ratings was Nosh. Nosh, at our time of visit, had a 4.6-star rating from over 360 reviewers. Further, Trip Advisor ranked the restaurant as the number two location to visit in Cocoa Beach out of 133 restaurants. Needless to say, our expectations were high for the impending visit.
Leaving the hotel, as the bird flew, the restaurant was no more than two or 3 miles away. However, actually making it from our hotel door to the restaurant door took no less than 30 minutes. Not only was traffic starting to build on the busy Saturday night, but the restaurant’s street sign was lost in a forest of other signs. Plus, our navigation system directed us to park behind the restaurant. Since we could not tell if we were in the right location or not, we had to drive around the block.
In the end, we finally made it to the restaurant. In walking up to the eatery, we found it had a rather bland street appeal. Upon entry, we did wait a couple of minutes to finally be greeted and seated… on uncomfortable wooden chairs. Again no impressive ambiance or décor in the establishment.
In perusing the menu, we surprisingly noticed that the appetizers were just as expensive as the entrées. We ordered the ahi nachos for an appetizer, and for drinks, we both selected the sangria, red. The drinks were surprisingly affordable; the red sangria was $6.00. Both were decently flavored and adequately stuffed with alcoholic content. As for the main entrée, I chose the Ahi tuna box in my wife selected the Garlic, which included sauteed fresh garlic, broccoli, and shrimp.
The Ahi Tuna appetizer, replete with tuna, spicy mayonnaise, and veggies, was one of the best sushi appetizers we’ve had. Further, the ahi tuna box, which included a wide selection of tuna sushi and spicy tuna salad, was even better than the appetizer, if that was even possible. To top it off, the waitress was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu selection as well as helpful with guiding us to menu items that would best appeal to our pallet.
From a business perspective: If it weren’t for the restaurant’s raving reviews, we never would have found the place let alone tried it. From this, reputation and online presence are critical for a small restaurant’s success.
The hotel stays itself was not nearly as enjoyable as our dinner. Customer service at the pool bar was lacking. Our drink order was taken by speaking loudly to the attendant, who decided to stand by the register instead of approaching us.
In our room, we are hoping to connect the flatscreen TV to our Netflix account, but this option was, well, not an option. Also, our inconsiderate nightly neighbors decided to have their children conduct sprints up and down the hall for no less than an hour. Once done, then the inventive parents decided to break out the kickball in the hall of the hotel. This proceeded for another 30 minutes or so. Definitely a memorable experience, but not a good one.
From a business perspective: A bartender can have all the support staff in the world, but if the personality is lacking, then the experience, from a customer’s perspective, is going to be poor.
The Starlite Restaurant was our selection for breakfast the next morning. We chose this location not because of Google reviews but rather because it was the restaurant in the hotel… convenience counts for something. Their menu selection was minimal, and their customer service was even less impressive. We must’ve waited no less than four minutes before the server looked up from her phone and finally acknowledged and seated us.
I selected a breakfast burrito, and my wife had the house breakfast, which consisted of two eggs, bacon, and hash browns. The presentation for the meals was actually quite nice, with my breakfast burrito cut in half at a diagonal with one half standing up. It would’ve been nice to have some melted cheese over the top, but again at a hotel restaurant, expectations are set rather low. As for the sausage, it was not the typical James Dean tiny links but rather a decent size sausage that was quite flavorful. The breakfast burrito was filling. However, the taste was left in the kitchen.
From a business perspective: Convenience counts for something in business. But don’t let it be the end-all-be-all of your services provided.
Overall, our day/night Cocoa Beach trip was decent. Overall, we spent approximately $700 on the trip. The lion’s share of the money went to the hotel room. The highlight of the trip was definitely our visit to Nosh. It’s almost worth driving a little over an hour from the Orlando area just to visit the restaurant. As for the hotel itself, it was nothing great and probably something we would not do again.
From a business perspective: In the hotel industry, a customer’s experience is everything. Make sure to continually optimize business operations when providing this type of service. And also, make sure customer service is first and foremost on the minds of your employees.
Author: Paul Borosky, Doctoral Candidate, MBA., Author. and Tishauna Borosky
Owner of: Quality Business Plan, and Quality Business Consultant.