The novelty of room service is something that guests never seem to tire of. After a big day of sightseeing, a hot shower followed by room service and a good night’s sleep is pure luxury.
It takes us far away from our day-to-day routine and weekly grind. It is capable of truly defining what a “break” is all about.
And while it’s a chance for you to impress your guests, there’s also the risk of leaving them a little underwhelmed by the experience. Guests usually arrive with certain expectations based on other experiences, previous stays or things they’ve read online. So how can you meet or go above and beyond those expectations?
Why is room service important?
Room service is a lot more than the simple delivery and serving of food and beverages to guests in their room, and it’s impact can stretch well beyond the walls of your property.
For starters, simply having room service available at your hotel might be the reason someone chooses your hotel over another down the road. It might be the point of difference that puts you ahead of your competitors or builds your reputation as a hotel that can compete with the bigger end of town.
And while it is another income stream, it can add so much more than that too. Great room service can add some extra shine to your online reviews.
Online reviews are everywhere, from Trivago to Google, Booking.com and Facebook, and the power of online reviews is undeniable. More than 80% of people say they always or frequently read a review before booking somewhere to stay.
For people researching their next stay, some booking sites even allow users to search reviews for those that mention room service. And if it’s something you are looking forward to, imagine how this review would influence your decision on where to stay:
“I ordered room service at around 11PM, it came to the room cold. It was obvious to me that it had previously been frozen and that it hadn’t been re-heated properly. This was incredibly disappointing. When another one was eventually made and served at the correct temperature, it was missing a fork. I then called and asked for one, and instead of a fork, I was given pillows.”
What does the best room service look like?
Reviews like the one above reveal the gigantic gap between the best and worst ends of the spectrum for room service.
And they show how incredibly important it is to first get the basics right. Room service should, at the very least, tick all of these boxes:
- Easy to order
- A menu that caters to common dietary requirements
- Available at convenient times throughout the day and night
- Delivered promptly
- Served at the correct temperature
- Delivered with everything the guest needs to eat and enjoy the meal comfortably in the room.
Of course, the best room service goes well beyond the basics. It adds another layer of luxury to the stay and is one of the reasons guests will leave reviews, tell their friends and family, and return to stay again.
These days, with the rise of Uber Eats, Door Dash and other services that deliver meals to your home, many guests are used to having restaurant quality meals delivered to their door. When it comes to room service, they want that little extra touch of quality or personalisation.
Exceptional service and truly outstanding food are the things that will have guests raving about your room service. But how do you actually go about improving your room service?
Advice for improving your room service
To provide a great service, you have to be able to deliver what your guests want – and that means knowing your guests and what they expect. Why are they visiting? Where are they from? What income bracket do they fall into? What are their hobbies? Where would they eat when they are in their hometown?
You can also quickly and easily get a picture of what your guests want by asking for feedback and reading online reviews for both your property and similar hotels nearby.
Other effective ways to improve room service in your hotel include:
- Audit how easy it is to order. Nothing is more frustrating for guests than not even getting past the first hurdle. Do you have a dedicated phone line that is always attended? Or do you have an app to handle that?
- Set expectations, and don’t disappoint. Does your menu correctly describe items? Do you have systems in place to advise guests of current wait times? Are these systems working to deliver on the expectations that have been set?
- Do you have the right equipment to deliver the food and drinks at the correct temperature and without spills?
- Presentation is everything – does your room service reflect this? Do your meals look appetising? Is the in-room eating area clean and well equipped?
- Are you putting the “service” in room service? Does the person delivering the food or drinks add a warm and friendly touch to the delivery? Do they check everything is okay before leaving?
- Do you follow up later to get feedback? This information can help you continue to improve your service.
- Do you go the extra mile for special occasions? If you know guests are celebrating an anniversary or birthday, add a little dessert surprise or flowers to mark the occasion.
- Are you trying to do too much? Narrowing down your menu can help you provide a better quality service with bigger returns. Perhaps you might even just focus on breakfast only?
- Does your menu and service reflect the values of the hotel? For example, if sustainability is a theme at your hotel, does this carry through to room service?
Another angle for improving room service is to consider whether outsourcing is a better option. If you don’t have the resources to do room service properly, partnering with a local restaurant might be an option to consider. You could work together to create a special menu that’s exclusive to your hotel.
Room service amenities to consider
Adding more interest to your room service offering can help attract more guests and build on both your reputation and returns.
Consider adding some of these options:
- Upmarket vending machines with fruit, juices and other snacking and beverage options to extend your offering outside of the hours of standard room service
- “Grab and go” options such as sandwiches, muffins, salads and bottled juice in the foyer for snacking or breakfast
- In-room snacking options that showcase local producers
- Free popcorn or nuts delivered with beverages
- Themed weekend deals that incorporate room service
- Welcome drinks based on what the guests have enjoyed during previous stays.
In-room technology which allows guests to order room service via a downloadable app or in-room tablet is also something that will impress your guests. The value of convenience can’t be overstated when a guest arrives at their room after a long day of travelling or sightseeing.
Top tips to perfect your guest services
Remember, room service is just one area of guest services at your hotel. To create a memorable and satisfying stay, all of your guest services need to work together in a cohesive way.
To turn your guests into raving fans who’ll tell anyone else that’ll listen about the wonderful time they had at your hotel, pay attention to these things:
- Creating a great first impression at check-in
- Improving your entire front office operations
- Staying on top of housekeeping at all times
- Acting on complaints by responding directly to the guest (and offering a fix or some form of compensation) and improving processes or training to avoid the problem in the future
- Developing a business plan (or refining an existing plan) and using it to guide your decisions around guest services.