Just two years ago, Hotel Online reported that hotel food and beverage wasn’t yet a thing of the past but that it appeared to be dying—that is unless hotels did something to revive it. Room service, the article reported, had become too costly and some hotels had taken to partnering with nearby restaurants for room service to cut down on the constant staffing it requires to keep food and beverage service in-house. Others had gone toward a convenience store model, offering a limited selection of foods that guests could purchase at the front desk; however, I have yet to see any property do this well enough to satisfy the bulk of guests. I agree that some things should die, like the in-room telephone perhaps, but room service can still elevate the guest experience while bolstering revenue. Rather than delete a service that has long been a staple of the guest experience, hotels might consider that food and beverage has merely been out of line with what guests want. Here are the two most important factors when it comes to breathing fresh life—and reaping solid returns—from food and beverage operations.

Going Social and Local Doesn’t Require a Total Overhaul

Lodging Magazine reports that travelers in 2019 want immersive experiences, and Hotel Online says that “F&B is the campfire to gather around.” Both suggest that bringing local flavors—whether via a reinvigorated menu or a pop-truck—is paramount to staying relevant. Part and parcel to making food and beverage more of an experience, many hotels are adapting their public spaces to feel more akin to social spaces and integrating their dining into the common areas. Social and local go hand-in-hand and shifts to the delivery of these services don’t have to be budget busting. Even a limited service hotel can feature regional coffees in the lobby where travelers might congregate before heading out together. And local celebrity chefs aren’t a must-have. Putting tacos on the menu in Texas and adding grits and pulled pork to the line-up in Tennessee are simple nods to location.

Combine menu revisions with convenience. Give travelers the technology to order food at any location on the property. This satisfies both the introverts, who want to dine in the peace of their room, as well as the socialites who want to order food to the lobby, where they can skim through their phones while waiting for friends to stop by for cocktails. Here, they can order apps that come directly to their coffee table, or the pool or the courtyard. Unleash room service across the property using technology with proximity locators, and the sheer convenience will generate revenue.

Room Service: Still in Demand, But Better Than Ever

Even some of the editors at Condé Nast Traveler for whom travel is a culinary adventure are in favor of room service for the experience of relaxing in their room, maybe with a view, in their pajamas after a long day of pounding the pavement in a new city. There will always be naysayers when it comes to room service, but by and large many travelers still want the option. Consider business travelers who may take calls all evening in their room or families with exhausted and hungry children. For some travelers, access to room service isn’t just nice, it’s essential. Statista reports that 45% of travelers say that room service is particularly important. The only hotel service more important is WiFi. When it comes down to choosing between two hotels on the same downtown block, many travelers will opt for the one that offers dining options.

So how do hotels make it sustainable? Technology. Technology that allows guests to order and pay via their mobile devices, ideally to any location on property can shift both guest service and revenue. Michael Marino, SVP of Marketing and Chief Experience Officer at Caesars, tells Hospitality Technology that because of their use of Runtriz Pay, a mobile application that allows mobile flexibility around food and beverage, “with around the clock instant access to ordering and payment capabilities, guests spend more. The self-serve orders also incur less labor expense since they don’t require a live order-taker.”

Taken a step further, Lodging Magazine reports that food and beverage tracking systems, “are more comprehensive and available to the entire F&B team at the click of a button. All this allows for an easier, faster, and more accurate system with improved food safety and service.”

Consider that most guests by now have used some combination of curbside grocery delivery (a.k.a. click-and-collect) or door-front delivery from the likes of Instacart and Amazon Prime. The online grocery market has increased by the billions every since 2012 and is anticipated to grow from $22 billion in 2019 to $29.7 billion in just the next two years, notes Statista. Consumers are willing to pay more for their groceries in both cost-per-item as well as extra convenience fees in return for the ability to order online, skip the checkout aisle, and receive the items they want in the most convenient way. These same consumers are your hotel guests, and guests have become accustomed to the opportunity to order and consume wherever they want. Shifting the focus of food and beverage from outdated room service models to convenience-focused, flexible models with a nod to local tastes can reinvigorate food and beverage for years to come.

Travel can be the greatest pleasure and a draining challenge, at times. The job of hoteliers is to make it more enjoyable, to give travelers a place to land comfortably. For most travelers, easy access to dining options is still an essential comfort.

About the Author

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-millili/

Seasoned business leader, David Millili, is the CEO of Runtriz™, a leading developer of innovative mobile software solutions for hotels, resorts, and casinos. He has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry with practical experience in all aspects of hotel operations and management. As the GM of two iconic New York City Times Square hotels, his experience ranges from managing pre-opening operations to spearheading multi-million budgets. As co-founder of Timeless Hospitality, Millili was directly responsible for the successful launch of a startup company that generated impressive profits within six months of launch. Timeless Hospitality provided hotels with internet reservations, marketing, and management products and was one of the first e-commerce platforms developed for the exclusive purpose of generating web reservations for independent hotels.

David Millili served as the chief executive officer and board member of Pegasus Solutions, a global leader in providing technology and services to hotels and travel distributors. In this position, he was responsible for the company’s global operations, technology and shared services as well as the company’s reservation and distribution service lines. Millili assisted in the sale of all three business units. Millili also founded and led Open Hospitality to become a recognized industry leader in providing innovative hotel internet marketing services including web design, development, and hosting, mobile platforms, online search, and marketing. Open was sold to Pegasus in October 2011. He currently sits on a number of boards and as a former hotel general manager, he has valuable experience in all aspects of hotel operations and management.

About Runtriz

Runtriz delivers magic moments utilizing an open guest service platform that enables guest service amplification. We strive to enhance both the staff and guest service experience to optimize their time. With over 2000 hotels in 120 countries covering 50 + languages, Runtriz has the knowledge and experience to support your hotels’ digital and guest engagement goals. We help our partners increase guest service results be delivering what today’s guests want. To learn more visit Runtriz.com