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How to Make Room Service More Profitable

Room service, sometimes called in-room dining, is a hotel amenity that allows guests to order food and drinks for delivery to their rooms. It is a common feature in high-end hotels and resorts, but it is not always offered in motels and other low-priced establishments. While it is an expensive amenity, many hoteliers consider it an essential part of their brand identity and offer it as a way to build loyalty among guests.

The first modern room service was introduced at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in 1931. Since then, it has become a symbol of luxury, an expectation on expense accounts, and the basis for many a plot device in movies and novels. But as hotel guest demographics and dining habits change, hoteliers must decide whether to continue offering traditional room service or update the amenity.

In-room dining is a costly amenity to provide because it requires specialized staff, food and beverage management, and space for meal preparation and delivery. But the demand for in-room dining continues to rise, and there are strategies that can help hotels make it profitable.

Start by evaluating your clientele and menu. Upscale and mid-priced hotels receive the most room service orders, but leisure travelers and businesspeople are equally likely to request in-room meals. A well-designed, concise menu that aligns with aesthetic trends is more appealing to customers than one that is overly long and complicated.

Alternatively, your hotel can opt to outsource its room service through partnerships with local restaurants that specialize in delivery services. These partners can help you create a curated menu of local favorites that is less costly than your in-house options. Since sampling regional cuisine is often a travel goal, this option may appeal to customers and increase customer loyalty.

If you decide to retain in-room dining, reduce your costs by limiting the times that you offer it. For example, breakfast is an attractive amenity to offer during limited hours so that guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the privacy of their rooms before checking out. Likewise, lunchroom service can be eliminated because most vacationers and traveling businesspeople spend their afternoons at events and attractions and won’t want to eat in their rooms for an extended period of time.

Another option for reducing room service costs is to replace it with a grab and go convenience center in your lobby. This alternative allows you to save money on labor, food and drink expenses, and supplies while still providing your guests with convenient access to snacks and beverages. Depending on your location and clientele, you may also find that guests prefer to use this option if it is clearly advertised as such in your hotel’s marketing materials. Lastly, you can further reduce costs by allowing your customers to order through an app rather than a phone call. This can cut down on the number of phone calls and shorten wait times. Additionally, digital ordering can eliminate language barriers and hearing impairments that can cause frustration and delay when calling a telephone service.