What is room service?
Room service is a hallmark of luxury and convenience in the hospitality industry. It allows guests to enjoy meals, beverages, and other amenities without leaving the comfort of their hotel room.
Typically available at medium to large hotels, room service operates much like a restaurant, but with the added benefit of delivering directly to a guest’s door. Whether it’s breakfast in bed, a midday snack, or a late-night feast, room service means that guests can enjoy a seamless dining experience at the press of a button.
Beyond food, room service can also encompass additional offerings such as fresh linen, toiletries, or even a newspaper, making a guest’s stay as comfortable and convenient as possible.
Room service at your hotel can be one of the trickiest parts of the business to get right. It’s something guests expect to have on offer, and they can get easily disappointed if the experience doesn’t meet their expectations.
Hotel room service is also not always easy to convert into a profitable exercise for your property, as there can be high operating costs and expenses involved.
However, there are plenty of benefits to offering high quality room service at your hotel too, including:
- The ability to offer personalised services to customers
- Guest privacy and convenience
- Higher guest satisfaction leading to better reviews
- Increased safety measures, such as contactless service
- A chance to promote your hotel restaurant
- Becoming a full-service hotel
Below, we’ll delve into what high quality room service looks like and how hoteliers can maximise their revenue and profit around this crucial supplementary source of hotel income.
Table of contents
Types of hotel room service
Room service has evolved beyond the traditional breakfast tray. Today, it encompasses a range of offerings tailored to enhance the guest experience, ensuring comfort, luxury, and convenience. Here’s a closer look at the various room service options that modern hotels are adopting:
- Breakfast: Kickstart a guest’s day with a hearty meal, delivered right to their room, ensuring they begin their day on a positive note.
- Lunch: Cater to midday hunger pangs with a diverse menu that ranges from light salads to hearty mains, tailored to the guest’s preference.
- Dinner: Bring your hotel’s restaurant to your guests’ doors and offer a fine dining experience within the confines of a guest’s room, complete with gourmet dishes and impeccable service.
- In room dining: Beyond set meals, provide a 24/7 dining option where guests can order snacks, beverages, or meals at their convenience.
- Online ordering: Embrace technology by allowing guests to place their food orders through an app or website, ensuring a contactless and efficient service.
- Private dining: For guests seeking an exclusive dining experience, offer private dining rooms or areas where they can enjoy meals in solitude or with select company.
- Room service carts: Elevate the traditional tray delivery with sophisticated carts, ensuring food remains hot and presentation remains impeccable during transit.
- Special occasion packages: Curate unique dining experiences for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, making a guest’s stay memorable.
Hotel room service menu sample
- Classic caesar salad: Fresh romaine lettuce tossed in creamy Caesar dressing, topped with parmesan shavings and crunchy croutons.
- Tomato basil soup: A velvety blend of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, served with a side of garlic bread.
- Prawn cocktail: Succulent prawns marinated in tangy cocktail sauce, served on a bed of crisp lettuce.
- Grilled salmon: perfectly grilled salmon fillet, served with lemon butter sauce, seasonal vegetables, and herbed potatoes.
- Chicken alfredo pasta: Creamy Alfredo sauce with tender chicken pieces, tossed with fettuccine and garnished with parsley.
- Vegetable stir fry: A medley of fresh vegetables sautéed in a light soy sauce, served with jasmine rice.
- Chocolate fondant: A rich chocolate cake with a molten centre, paired with vanilla ice cream.
- Tiramisu: Classic Italian dessert with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and creamy mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa.
- Berry cheesecake: Creamy cheesecake topped with a refreshing berry compote.
- Classic mojito: A refreshing blend of white rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water, and mint.
- Cappuccino (or a range of other types of coffee): Rich espresso topped with steamed milk and a touch of froth, perfect for a caffeine boost.
- Tropical fruit punch: A vibrant mix of tropical fruits, served chilled. Perfect for a refreshing pick-me-up.
How to increase room service revenue
When it comes to increasing sales and revenue from room service, it can be just as lucrative for you as for your guests. Here are a couple of tips for you to boost revenue from hotel room service:
Audit what you are selling on your hotel room service menu
The first step to maximising your room service revenue is to remove or reduce items that don’t sell, optimise items that do sell well, and think about what you can add to further increase sales.
Of course, this needs to be based on key data, rather than gut feelings or casual observations.
- Look at your records for the past year or two and identify best and worst sellers for both food and beverage in that time period
- Next look at seasonality to see if there are any significant differences between when certain items are ordered
- Then look at external data from the industry and hotels that profile similar to yours, to see what items are proving popular
- Lastly, reconfigure your menu based on your research to ensure high demand items are on offer, and update this when required at different times of the year
An example of data you might look at was done by SuitePad, which indicated burgers were the most popular room service food amongst all hotels, while pasta dishes were the least popular.
It also found that while orange juice was easily the most popular beverage for leisure hotels and resorts, it finished a long last for city hotels. This could be due to the fact that leisure or regional hotels offer fresh, local, produce.
So, as you can see there’s no blanket approach that will prove fruitful. As with most aspects of a hotel business, your room service strategy needs to be specific to your property, location, and also your guests.
City guests are going to want great coffee early in the morning, while boutique guests may prefer freshly squeezed fruit juice at brunch.
Another way to audit your room service is to encourage guest feedback via reviews, comment cards, or suggestion boxes to see what guests enjoy and what they’d like to see next time.
Improve the way you sell and deliver your room service
If your hotel room service menu isn’t performing as you’d expect, perhaps it’s a case of improving the overall experience and offering something a little special to pique the interest of your guests.
For instance, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic many hotels had to change the way they approached room service and guest experience in general.
How to improve room service in hotels
As guest expectations evolve, so must the ways hotels deliver in-room dining. Here, we delve into actionable strategies to elevate your hotel’s room service to new heights of excellence.
1. Provide one-of-a-kind experiences
Forbes looked at some examples which included Carneros Resort in Napa adding plum wine dispensers to rooms and The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa turning its ballroom into a theatre for 26 couples at appropriately spaced two-seat tables.
In another case, Ocean House in Rhode Island brought happy hour to the guests, with a cocktail cart rolling around between 5 and 7pm.
Sometimes, you only need to offer one unique item and guests will be more interested in your entire menu, and will be inclined to spend more for a special experience.
2. Enhance processes and efficiencies
Sometimes the success of your room service is all about how well you execute it. If you can perfect how quickly you deliver, how well you present the orders, and how responsive you are to requests and enquiries you’ll start to see an uptick in performance.
The first thing you might think about is decentralising your room service – that is, separating it from your main kitchen and dedicating a separate team to oversee it, perhaps even with individual pantries or preparation areas on each floor if you’re a larger hotel.
Using a hotel app to manage room service or have dedicated tablets in-room to make ordering and communication easy is another strong recommendation.
This will increase convenience for the guest, which is a huge factor given that 68% of people ordering room service are doing it for convenience. It also ensures orders are accurately processed and there are fewer delays.
3. Put the ‘service’ in room service
When room service goes wrong you end up with reviews like this one from TripAdvisor:
“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.”
It’s crucial that you give room service just as much care as you would give to your restaurant service. Ask yourself some questions so you can get it right:
- Is ordering fast and easy?
- Is communication simple and are enquiries responded too quickly?
- Is food and drink delivered without spills and at correct temperatures?
- Are staff friendly and helpful when delivering?
- Are you open to offering guests personalised orders? E.g maybe it’s their birthday and you can add something special on top
- Do your menu items allow for customisation?
- Is food and beverage presented with restaurant quality? Does it look appetising and ‘instagrammable’?
- Are your products in line with your brand and theme?
Taking room service beyond the room will also increase the feeling of convenience for guests. For example, perhaps they could order room service to the pool or the spa, the games room, or other similar locations at the property.
4. Promote your room service more effectively
Maybe your room service revenue is suffering simply because you aren’t making guests aware or excited enough.
Once you’ve audited and overhauled your menu and processes you need to run a campaign, or at least put some initiatives in place to ensure guests know how great your room service is.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- If you have your own app, promote your room service offers in there
- Put samples of your items in your lobby or other heavily populated areas of your property
- Advertise with leaflets or posters in your elevator or stairwells
- Include welcome notes and QR codes in-room
- Dedicate some of your feedback collection to room service and share some of the most positive comments on social media
- Perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do is make your room service offers known during the booking process via your online booking engine.
When guests are choosing their room and selecting add-ons or extras, this is a chance to upsell your room service. This could be by offering free room service if they upgrade their room, offering particular items as arrival purchases, offering breakfast via room service each morning, or other packages and deals with room service attached.
Embracing booking technology and digital technology such as apps will go a long way to streamlining your room service and give you more opportunities to maximise revenue.
It’s even better if you can centralise as much of this as possible on one platform, so you can manage your property from a single location.