To win over today’s travellers and compete with Airbnb, hotels are reassessing the functionality, flavours and frills of their room service offers. Here are three ways we’re starting to see the shake-up.
1. Streamlining Service
For decades, traditional hotel room service has been limited in choice, often unhealthy and expensive. Now, with the rise in the sharing economy giants such as Airbnb and Deliveroo, hotels are reimagining their offer - adapting their services in order to survive.
One way of doing this is to remove clunky, outdated processes and streamline the service. Public Hotel in New York, known for its cost-effective approach to luxury hospitality, has proved to be an innovator in efficient room service. Just as customers can order ahead at Starbucks, guests can order food online from the downstairs delicatessen, before picking it up from the lobby five minutes later. Or, order in from one of the hundreds of nearby restaurants.
Similarly, the Meriton hotel chain in Sydney and Brisbane has officially teamed up with Deliveroo to offer in-room delivery from nearby restaurants within 30 minutes. Guests place their order with the Guest Services team, who then pay on the guest’s behalf and bill them when they check out.
Some hotels are implementing invisible service in a bid to compete with the seamlessness of Airbnb. At Lokal, a boutique hotel in Philadelphia that comprises a series of self-catering apartments, guests check in with codes and use in-room iPads to communicate with staff. Instead of ordering room service, a bar trolley provides ingredients and recipes to host their own cocktail hour, and a fully stocked pantry even lets them host a dinner party.
2. Changing Tastes
Room service menus have become synonymous with underwhelming and overpriced food. To compete with the restaurant-standard food that delivery apps are providing, some hotels are changing the flavour profiles and expanding the menus of their in-room dining offers.
The St Giles London Hotel has done this by introducing the world’s first plant-based room service, in partnership with BOL foods, a brand of California-inspired vegan food pots. The move follows research by Ipsos MORI showing that the number of UK vegans rose by 360% from 2006 to 2016, as well as The Good Hotel Guide discovering that the lack of vegan food was one of travellers’ top complaints in 2017.
‘The partnership is a result of a growing trend in hotel guests looking to keep up their healthy habits when travelling abroad, especially on business,’ says Abigail Tan-Giroud, CEO of St Giles Hotels. ‘We have seen a dramatic increase in visitors requesting gym passes, vegan and vegetarian restaurant recommendations, and guides for running and cycling in the city.’
3. Beyond Food and Drink
Moving beyond food and drink, hotels are taking inspiration from the rise of the wellness trend – providing spirituality on-demand, through lifestyle coaching, astrology readings, hypnosis and in-room sound healing.
Meanwhile, The Standard has joined forces with luxury cannabis specialists Lord Jones to bring a variety of cannabis-derived products to the hospitality landscape to modernise their mini-bar offer.
The hotel will offer its guests a selection of products including CBD oil-infused gumdrops and pain relief lotions, available in mini-bars of the hotel’s Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles locations – a glimpse into the way lifestyle hotels are modernizing their room service offer.
The Hollywood location will also feature a Lord Jones flagship retail dispensary on the ground floor, extending its offering to the local community.
CEO and managing partner of Standard International, Amar Lalvani said, “Cannabis is gaining enhanced relevancy as a key component of wellness, awareness and discovery. The Lord Jones dispensary will provide the finest cannabis products available, seamlessly integrated into the Standard experience.”
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