Order up! New roomservice options on the menu
05 JANUARY 2015 10:56 AM
High costs and tightened guest schedules are prompting many hotel companies to change their traditional roomservice offerings.
GLOBAL REPORT—Roomservice in 2020 will, according to sources, look quite different than it does today.
An indication that huge changes were on their way came with the New York Hilton Midtown’s mid-2013 decision to discontinue traditional roomservice. In its stead came a grab-and-go food outlet that also did guestroom delivery not on white tablecloths but in paper bags.
Some predict that in years to come only high-end hotels will continue to provide the type of roomservice that comes with real plates, tablecloths and portable tables orchestrated by dedicated in-room dining departments.
HNN asked five hoteliers responsible for an array of product type on three continents to give their thoughts. This is what they said:
Vince Barrett, VP of food and beverage, New Castle Hotels & Resorts: “The traditional way we see roomservice will be a thing of the past for nearly all hotels, except maybe for very high-end, 5-star-plus hotels and resorts that want to offer it as a high-end service touch point.”
Barrett believes that within the next couple of years the major chains will begin to roll out new in-room dining service standards. He thinks their visions will be similar in their modeling, but each will have their own sense of brand identity.
Barrett, who also is MD of New Castle’s purchasing subsidiary Provender LLC, added the brands’ mobile apps will have the capability to interface with a hotel’s point of sales system to provide numerous food-and-beverage options, as well as several delivery points.
Hoteliers also will look to create retail style spaces within their lobbies that will act as a grab-and-go option, he said.
Barrett does forecast one major difference.
“We are already starting to see companies develop environmentally-responsible packaging for in-room delivery that will virtually eliminate the traditional in-room dining experience. With these changes will come more affordable price points for the guests, lower costs for the operation, and better, faster and more advanced technology that put all the processing and power into the hands of the guests, driven by millennials,” Barrett said.
Barrett also foresees brands looking to have a tiered approach in regard to the final price paid for in-room dining, providing guests flexibility in when, how and what they want and how much it will cost them.
Duncan Berry, chief executive, Choice Hotels Europe/United Kingdom: “By 2020, roomservice will still exist, but you’re likely to be greeted by a hologram and make all transactions via your smartphone and the next generation of Google Glass.”
For chains with flags that cover several price points, roomservice will be tweaked, but it will tend to be reduced in scope across the border, according to Berry, who said that almost 50% of his hotels are limited service and therefore do not provide in-room dining, while the other half’s guests increasingly preferred items such as pizza, followed by other takeaway food that they also enjoy at home.
The 2020 menu will be more sustainable, he added, and come from local restaurants.
“Hotels are providing locally-sourced menus, thereby encouraging (sustainability) and providing the cutlery, et cetera, for this at a small charge,” Berry said, equating the new trend to the practice of charging a small fee to open a bottle of wine if the restaurant in question does not have a liquor license.
Berry also predicts flexible offering and grab-and-go options.
“This,” he said, “we are seeing as becoming more of an expectation from our guests.”
Maxine Taylor, executive VP of asset management, The Chartres Lodging Group: “I believe that we will continue the trend in moving away from traditional roomservice. Everyone knows the current roomservice models all operate at a loss and over the years have become a guest ‘dissatisfier’ based on long wait times coupled with exorbitant pricing and delivery fees. Right now, neither the guest nor the owner is satisfied.
“It’s difficult to say how far technology will advance, with new and improved delivery and food production options coming out daily. … Roomservice and other core hotel department operations will continue to develop and test more creative food delivery systems. Just in the past several months, 3-D food printing has gotten a lot of attention. Right now, the technology seems to revolve around design with food, but who knows how this technology will evolve. It could be that food will actually be made in the guestroom using fresh ingredients. We simply don’t know where this might go, but it is certainly fun to imagine and discover new answers to age-old industry challenges. … (I) hope that by 2020 we will find the right balance for roomservice and land somewhere between full-service white linen and brown-bag delivery.
Duncan Palmer, regional VP, Europe, Langham Hotels & Resorts and MD, The Langham, London, responsible for one of London’s most luxurious properties, said the key to roomservice in 2020 will be simplicity.
“I do believe that clients will look for lighter and healthier options when dining by themselves in the comfort of their hotel room/suite. Very often, hotels make the mistake of having extensive roomservice menus. When combined with the distance from the kitchen to the guestroom, the meals sometimes end up mediocre in quality and very often, hot meals are served cold,” he added.
But there is one thing Palmer never sees changing: “Quality, not quantity.”
|Michael Heyward, director of hotel performance support Europe, InterContinental Hotels Group: “I think roomservice will be seen less and less. It used to be the case that a hotel room would have to provide something you would not have at home, but the lines between the two are getting blurred.”|