Not yet, but it seems to be on the way out. While plenty of hotels still offer traditional room service, guests’ tastes are evolving, and food and beverage programs must change to suit new demands. Many hotels are limiting costly room service, or completely scrapping it in favor of new F&B concepts that give guests more convenience at lower prices, plus opportunities to experience local fare.
Hoteliers, here are the newest F&B trends you need to consider now.
Room service can take many forms, and while many midscale and upscale hotels already have restaurant space on-site, not every kitchen has time (or staff) to prepare meals for in-room dining. To that end, some urban hotels are partnering with local restaurants that will deliver meals to the hotel and, depending on the property’s security, directly to the guestroom. This leaves the hotel’s kitchens free to focus on their restaurants and catering facilities while guests are free to dine in the comfort of their rooms if they want to.
Extended-stay hotels with full in-room kitchens can go a step further and organize delivery from grocery stores or even meal kit services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Atlanta-based PeachDish provides ingredients and recipes to Hilton’s HomeWood Suites, making it easy for guests to have everything they need to prepare a healthy meal in their kitchen once they check in.
Grab & Go
A bag of chips and Cup of Noodles for dinner? Thankfully, those days are limited as hotel stores are getting more creative with curated offerings. The “grab-and-go” stand stocked with sandwiches, bottled drinks and fresh fruit has now become ubiquitous in hotel lobbies around the country. Whether large or intimate, these shops are a great option for serving guests’ needs while saving the hotel money. Food can be prepared in advance and doesn’t need to be kept warm. They also require fewer people to run them, reducing overhead costs. Perhaps best of all, guests can quickly get what they need rather than worrying about how much time they have for a sit-down meal.
A hotel’s F&B program is a prime opportunity to give guests a taste (literally) of a destination. Many hotel restaurants are focusing on farm-to-table fare sourced from nearby independent businesses, and some hotel restaurants offer meals prepared exclusively from locally sourced ingredients. This is not only a great way for guests to experience the area, but also a chance to form partnerships with local businesses. Nearby farms, and even specialist vendors (think local bakers and coffee shops), can supply food and beverages for the hotel’s restaurants and lounges. The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay serves freshly made cheeses from nearby Harley Farms and Cowgirl Creamery, and incorporates a rotating variety of vegetables and herbs from area farmers into its seasonal menus. The AC Hotel San Francisco Airport/Oyster Point Waterfront, set to open this fall, will be outfitting its store with local Bay Area items including bottled Blue Bottle Coffee, IT’S-IT Ice Cream Sandwiches and Dandelion Chocolates.
Let’s not forget the “B” part of F&B. Hotels close to any kind of wine region should always serve local vintages, but not everyone wants a glass of wine. Marriott’s Four Points brand recently launched the “Best Brews Around the World” program, in which each of the brand’s hotels showcases a local beer. Craft breweries and distilleries are popping up all over the country, making it so much easier for hotels to offer a distinctive beverage program.
Many hotels, from midscale on up, provide breakfast for guests these days, and the morning meal has become a prime chance for guests to socialize and gather ideas of what to do in the area. Every lobby should have a coffee station (a small Keurig in the lobby makes it easy for the hotel to provide something fresh and hot for guests while minimizing the need for maintenance), and if the coffee is kept close to a seating area, guests will linger and feel at home.
Some hotels, like IHG’s Kimpton and Hilton’s Embassy Suites, are also offering complimentary evening social hours with appetizers and/or drinks. This is another great way to improve a guest’s perception of the hotel. The drinks don’t need to be pricey (but ideally they should be local) and the snacks can be as simple as cheese and crackers, however guests will feel as if they’ve had a more fulfilling experience and will be more likely to recommend the hotel as a good value.
So while some hotels are still providing traditional room service, there are so many innovative new ways to feed guests. In the end, it’s all about providing guest satisfaction while remaining profitable.