What’s the future of in-room dining? Paradigm shifts are coming to cut costs

Hotel room service has not evolved significantly over the last few decades, but as traveller tastes and preferences evolve, that segment of the hospitality industry could undergo seismic shifts.

A new, comprehensive report by PhocusWright and iSeatz entitled The Future of Room Service takes a look at changing trends for in-room dining as third party delivery platforms gain traction with business travellers. The companies’ research included surveys of business travellers and in-depth interviews of telephone interviews of key personnel in the US hotel sector.

One interesting overall conclusion the report reached is that: “It’s clear that hotel room service will change. Many properties have already introduced more restricted operating hours and limited menu selections to help reduce ballooning cost”.

Some hotels are experimenting with a more casual food delivery platform-inspired style of in-room dining. Several of the major chains, including Wyndham and IHG, are actively rolling out such solutions, the report stated.

The Blue Swan Daily reported last month on how IHG had entered into a partnership with technology company Winnow to help its hotels automatically track, measure and reduce food waste for more sustainable and efficient restaurant and bar operations. Using Winnow’s Vision AI enabled technology, it believes its hotels could achieve a 30% reduction in food waste.

When it comes to room service, hotels that experiment with alternative food delivery, platform-inspired propositions, are addressing many operational challenges, according to the research. Food orders placed through an app or web page eliminate an order taker and a simpler menu reduces preparation costs and requires less working capital for food items.

Using disposable utensils instead of crockery and silverware also reduces capital requirements and pilferage costs, the report stated, while proposing pick up or delivery for an additional flee cuts labour expense, and can eliminate clean-up costs.

“The resulting revenue per customer is lower, but the corresponding costs are significantly lower, which could turn what is currently a cost into something actually profitable,” the report concluded.

Several of the properties there were interviewed for the report stated guest reaction to date to these initiatives has been favourable, ”although there has been some limited pushback from frequent business travellers seeking more traditional dining and service options”.

Sustainability is increasingly being recognised as a key attribute within commercial strategies, but it is widely also a potential area for significant cost savings to a business, and technology is playing an important role in bringing this all to fruition.

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