Room Service: Where’s it Going?

As guests look for more personal and authentic experiences, what’s the future for room service as we know it?

It isn’t exactly breaking news that the traditional model of room service is changing. It was in 2013 that Hilton New York Midtown decided to drop its traditional room service model for a ‘market’-style lobby offer. The move caused a worldwide stir and a fierce debate amongst hoteliers: is room service dead? It seems the answer to that would be ‘no’, as Hilton decided to bring back room service just one month later, albeit in a different form.

Hilton Midtown’s current room service is run out of their concept restaurant, Herb N’ Kitchen, and only from 6.30am to 10.30am and 5.30pm to 10.30pm. It also comes in a paper bag, for takeaway or room delivery. Hyatt Regency Fair Lakes and PUBLIC Chicago also have a paper bag policy, also only available during certain hours.

Another hotel with no time for traditional room service is Hotel Americano in New York. Instead, they have a selection of bento boxes with an American-Mexican slant. The menu is concise, with 5 options for breakfast and 5 more for dinner.

To me, this all makes perfect sense. If we look at general dining and restaurant trends, the same words keep being thrown around: casual dining, authentic, seasonal, local, value. If that’s what people want from a restaurant, why not room service? In most instances they’ll take one look at a traditional room service menu before jumping onto TripAdvisor to find a good restaurant in the area that’s easier to Instagram. An interesting room service offer that reflects the local community and doesn’t require a small personal loan is far more likely to coax them back into the hotel.

Now, there will always be a room service market: the jetlagged, the weary, the businessperson who doesn’t like eating out alone and has been to this city four times before anyway. They might be likely to order from room service regardless, but a unique offer will stay with them for far longer than a club sandwich under a cloche (a bit dramatic, but you see my point).

For hotels lying at the luxury end of the scale, paper bags and bento boxes may not cut it. A seasonal, locally inspired menu presented in a more personal way can still provide a memorable experience.

So, will room service eventually die? I don’t think so, but it is definitely evolving. A concise, local and value-for-money offer will better appeal to the demands and desires of today’s traveller.

By Laura Condon 

Cover image credit: PUBLIC Chicago

 

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