After the New York Hilton Midtown announced they would be ending room service back in 2013, the industry predicted massive change with regards to in-room dining. Today, amidst continued declining sales in room service, these predictions are coming true as hotels around the world reinvent in-room dining programs from the ground up.
Global Hospitality Insights, a report by Ernst & Young, recently reported an increase in tourism across the globe during the next 12 months as a result of renewed efforts in destination marketing, increased use of technology and a growing interest in travel among the middle class in emerging economies. This presents a unique opportunity for hotels to take advantage of this surge in travelers and generate incremental revenue from in-room dining, a department that has historically been unprofitable, especially for large hotels.
Here are three ways hotels are beginning to see increased profits by investing in a better in-room dining experience.
Digital and interactive in-room dining menus
Using new technology, it is now possible for hotels to offer well-branded room service. As hotels large and small move towards digital check-in services via iPad and other mobile devices, featuring room service via iPad is becoming more and more common.
Intelity, which runs iPad systems in about 120 hotels, analyzed how hotel guests used the devices over the last two years. They found that the most common use, by far, is ordering room service.
For example, the Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills found that iPads revolutionized the way guests order room service. Today, most orders come in via the guestroom iPad instead of the old-fashioned guestroom telephone. These digital menus can be accessed from in-room TVs, iPads and even custom apps, and are saving the hotel money on printing costs. Additionally, this process is automated with the associated back-end transactions becoming more efficient and profitable for the Hotel Bel-Air and other hotels around the world.
Concept driven offerings
This year we can also expect to see in-room dining more closely match the hotel’s concept. Hotels with a green/eco or health related concept, may offer locally sourced brown bag lunches, while a hotel in wine country may boast a complete cellar and tasting menu for in-room wine ordering.
One exciting concept-driven innovation is related to food trucks. Food trucks and temporary pop-up restaurants have become ubiquitous on streets across America and Europe, with many hotels now getting in on the craze.
For example, the Setai Hotel in Miami’s South Beach last year opened the Beach Kiosk, calling it a “high-end hotel food truck” on the beach. Menu items are designed by the hotel restaurant’s Michelin-starred executive chef David Werly to match the theme of the traditional restaurants, and include ceviche, Wagyu hot dog and salmon burgers.
Also, the Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City will open a second food truck by its restaurant’s chef in June. The first Panache Mobile operates at the nearby Vignoble de Sainte-Pétronille vineyard. The second will be on the riverfront at the St. Lawrence River. The food, which includes lobster rolls, tartare and focaccia sandwiches, is made from ingredients from a garden the hotel operates at a nearby island.
High end brand partnerships
Luxury brands have always been big business. The world’s top brands signify coolness and quality, and now these brands are generating incremental revenue by partnering with hotels around the world.
When you check into your Westin Hotel, for example, expect the beauty products to come from high-end beauty brand Aveda. Le Meridien hotels offer luxurious Hermes toiletries in their rooms.
And high-end appliances are the latest luxury brand hotel trend. The Grand Waikikian by Hilton Vacations Club features full kitchens with high-end appliances, so guests can enjoy in-room dining as a family in complete comfort.