I judge a hotel a lot by their breakfast. I love food. I really can't hide that fact. I will stay a hotel again just because of their breakfast and a chain because of the other hotels in the chain that have a good breakfast.
First off, I do not really like the pay breakfasts. I usually can get better food down the road. There is no breakfast buffet that is worth $16 in a hotel. My McDonalds breakfast holds me just fine with places like that.
Second, presentation is key. Where I'm at gets a "meh" rating. The breads are all thrown in a plastic box. There's only one hot thing in the corner. 2 pots of coffee. And of course the waffle maker. Nothing interesting. Just all thrown out there. I've been to places that have shit on different levels of the counter. Interesting containers. Decent coffee service. Interesting food that is presented well.
Third, what the hell you are serving. Try and change it up day to day. Us business travelers are generally in your hotel for a few nights and by day 3 of the same ol shit, we are pretty bored. When I was in VA it was cheese omelets and sausage patties the whole freakin week. Change it up with scrambled eggs. Try links instead of patties. If you really want to blow my socks off throw some damn bacon in there! That's what surprised me this morning was bacon on the buffet. It wasn't the best bacon ever but it was good for a change.
Fourth and most importantly, what the hell your customers serve their food onto. This is probably my biggest bitch. Cheapo styrofoam plates and 3 oz glasses are not going to win you my support. Just decent plastic plates help. What will have me is a good cup. One that holds more than 4 oz. A decent coffee cup too. One that I can take out of the hotel without spilling all over myself. When I think about some of the best breakfasts I've had, they all had large enough glasses that I didn't have to go back 2-3 times to refill my milk. I stayed at one place that had actual coffee mugs. Not cups, mugs. They since have discontinued that practice and I've now decided I don't need to stay at that place anymore.
The best breakfast I've had in recent history was in California. Made to order omelet bar. Bacon. Sausage. Fresh fruit. Decent bread selection that was fresh. Waffles. Just an overall good breakfast that was included in the room price.
The worst was a little motel in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Their breakfast was some Hostess donuts (about 3) in a Tupperware container and a coffee urn with the small styrofoam cups. That was not even worth the effort of walking down there.
Tomorrow I'm saying fuck it and going to Waffle House. There I know I'll get a decent breakfast :)