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Room service - or no room service

When staying at a hotel today, the room service offered may not be what you are used to.
When staying at a hotel today, the room service offered may not be what you are used to.

Whether you are a frequent business traveler or a yearly vacationer, hotel room service has been one of those amenities you always look forward to; whether it is after a late check-in, a long day of meetings, or a busy day exploring a new place. Depending on the hotel you are staying in, your room service options may be changing; sometimes for better, at other times for worse.

Last year, New York City’s largest hotel, the midtown Hilton, announced it would no longer be offering room service for its 2,000 rooms and would instead be adding a grab and go market in the hotel lobby for guests to purchase snacks, premade meals, and other types of convenience food. The Hilton was one of the first hotel chains to sort of throw a wrench into the whole room service operation, shedding light onto the changes that have been brewing in the hospitality industry for quite some time. Many hotel guests are upset about this, saying that if they are paying the same rates, they would rather stay at a different hotel that does offer room service, regardless of whether they would actually use the service or not.

Other hotel chains in New York City are still holding strong to their traditional room service practices, offering multiple menus based on the hotel’s in-house restaurants, butler service, as well as offering the option of having entire meals prepared and delivered in a portable carrier for guests who will be on the go the entire day. Smaller hotels have even been known to partner with local restaurants that have agreed to handle all of the room service orders that hotel guests place.

For these smaller hotels and ones such as the Hilton that have gotten rid of their room service services all together, it just wasn’t worth the expense. When considering food, supplies and staffing costs – in comparison to the volume of room service orders actually received – it just wasn’t worth it.

While it isn’t expected that many other hotels will follow suit, some are starting to revamp their in-room food ordering systems to keep up with technology. Hotels such as the Omni have provided a tablet in every room where guests can place a room service order, either for immediate delivery or for a later time during their stay. Guests can also use this tablet to request a refresh of their room’s amenities, request their valet car to be brought to the entrance, have their bags retrieved from their rooms, and check the hotel’s daily activities.

Other hotels are going a step further, allowing guests to preorder grocery store items to be purchased and brought to their rooms upon arrival. Hotels in areas where fresh and local foods are part of the attraction to the area will let guests bring foods to the chefs to be prepared to order. Both of these services of course come with a cost.

So, are we starting to see the downfall of traditional hotel room service? The answer is unclear at the moment. It is evident, however, that hotels facing smaller budgets or staffing restrictions might start to see in-room dining services cut or replaced with a different option for guests.

The hospitality industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. If working in hospitality is something that you might be interested in, check out the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Star Career Academy. Their hands on programs are a great way to break into this exciting and always changing industry.

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