From champagne breakfast-in-bed to a 3am club sandwich, room service was once considered a marker of luxury in hotels. But for many, offering room service can be costly, operationally complex and not always profitable.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, only 22% of American hotels offered room service in 2016, a drop from 37% two years prior. With guests expectations and demands ever-changing, is room service as we know it on the way out?
A growing appetite for apps
Food delivery apps have seen remarkable growth in the last few years. According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the global food delivery app market was worth US$3.79bn in 2017 and is projected to rise to more than US$16bn by 2023.
GrubHub is America’s biggest online food ordering service, with 115,000 restaurants across America cater to more than 19 million diners. In 2017, it collaborated with Hyatt Centric hotels to become part of their Restaurant to Go programme, which provides guests with an extensive choice of room service, including in-house dining and local takeouts. It differs from the standard GrubHub service by offering a more curated takeout menu with local restaurant recommendations by hotel staff.
Launched in 2013 and available across Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East, UK-based app, Deliveroo has also penetrated the hotel industry as it seeks to increase its revenue from the corporate market. “We now work with hundreds of hotels and serviced apartments across our 14 markets and we expect to continue seeing strong growth in this service,” says Juan Diego Farah, Global Head of Deliveroo for Business.
Traditional room service
But that’s not to say it’s the end of traditional room service. There’s still a place for an in-house product, especially in the business and luxury market. The Fauchon l’Hôtel in Paris, which opened in September, is the historic delicatessen’s first foray into hotels. The brand believes it’s ‘revolutionising’ traditional room service by offering a range of high-end gourmet tray meals – a concept the deli has previously been serving-up to hungry Parisians in partnership with delivery service Room Saveurs.
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Andrew Fletcher, General Manager of Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites in Manchester believes a diverse in-house F&B offering is key. “By combining a full-service hotel, an aparthotel, a restaurant, bar and meeting floor all on one site, we’re well placed to cater for the different needs of our customers,” he says. “Whilst some of our guests do use food delivery apps, our hotels attract travellers from all over the world – many of whom won’t be familiar with the UK’s food delivery options – and they welcome the simplicity of room service.”
Of course, there are benefits to both sides and it often depends on the market and location. In budget and boutique markets, delivery apps remove the cost of providing in-house dining and add extra value for guests. “We have Handy phones [complimentary smartphones] in all rooms so our guests can access delivery apps and order meals from local restaurants and taverns,” says Minas Kourtis, Digital Marketing Director of The Kubic Hotel in Athens, the first smart hotel in Greece. “Small, boutique hotels like ours benefit from this, as it means guests spend more time at our hotel using our facilities and services.”
But it’s also a chance to embrace the local vibe. “Whilst it’s easy for guests to get into the city centre and Moxy offers a Grab’n’Go station, our location lends itself particularly well to food delivery apps,” says Bart Luijk, Area General Manager for the New Residence Inn and Moxy Amsterdam Houthavens. “As a working dock, Houthavens is still in the process of being regenerated, which means there aren’t too many other dining options on our doorstep, so delivery apps can give our guests instant access to Amsterdam’s world of culinary options.”
Delivery apps can give our guests instant access to Amsterdam’s world of culinary options
Partnerships with nearby restaurants can also provide a distinctly local solution, with the advantage of providing a bespoke selection of delivery options that are in line with the property’s brand. For example, the Perry Lane Hotel in Georgia offers guests the opportunity to order from a reduced version of the menu from neighbouring Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, and have dishes delivered to their room on an antique cart for a small surcharge. Meanwhile, The Nadler in Liverpool provides a fridge-fill service, where guests can request a custom order that staff will collect from nearby shops and supermarkets to deliver before or during a stay.
So whether it’s exploring the convenient and cost-effective potential of delivery apps or building on-brand partnerships with local eateries, alternatives to traditional room service are certainly offering food for thought for today’s hoteliers.
Hero image: credit to Brett Jordan, Unsplash
- In some hotel markets, room service can be an expensive, complicated and not always profitable service to offer
- Food delivery apps have seen remarkable growth in recent years and the sector is projected to rise to more than US$16 billion by 2023
- Easy, convenient and offering guests an extensive choice of food, delivery apps can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional room service for some hotel markets
- According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, only 22% of American hotelsoffered room service in 2016, a drop from 37% two years prior