I don’t know about you, but most of the hotels I stay in have fairly unremarkable room service. I mean, the food is just plain “blah.” The only area that shines is maybe the breakfast menu. But again, unless you’re staying at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, it’s pretty much your basic eggs, toast and juice.
Hopefully, there are signs that this may change for the better. Ah, yes, competition doth make better servants of us all. And that includes the unrequited room service menu.
Hotel managers know that in these tough economic times, companies are squeezing business travelers to do more in less time. Rushed travel schedules, jet lag and back-to-back meetings leave little time to eat. The only time they can eat a quick meal is from their hotel room, so they call room service for something to eat while they finish that big report or prep for that major speech.
The problem is, many room service meals are overpriced “rubber chicken” entrees that leave guests regretting they simply didn’t stop at the airport snack bar for a cold sandwich.
Yet many hotels claim room service simply isn’t profitable, which means they typically tag on an extra gratuity charge in addition to their already high prices. So it’s not uncommon to find business travelers ordering a pizza from a nearby restaurant. (Something I’ve done on occasion.)
Savvy hotels have taken the hint and have improved their menu offerings and lowered prices to cater to reduced corporate travel budgets. Other mid-level hotels now offer health conscious salads, sandwiches and snacks. Some offer hot food choices like pizzas, soups, chili and sandwiches from the lobby via touch screen computer, which goes on a guest’s room tab.
For upscale travelers with more carte blanche expense accounts, some luxury hotels offer “in room dining” menus created by famous celebrity chefs. Gourmet food choices here include steaks, seafood, risottos and other decadent desserts. Some offer custom food choices like organic beef burgers, oven fired pizzas or locally made ice cream.
The accent on slimmer waists and toned, self-conscious bodies has also made an impact. To cater to today’s healthier eaters, hotels are also offering vegetables with light sauces, fresh salads, fish and chicken dishes and light desserts. For breakfast, travels can order fresh fruits, cereals, oatmeal and egg white dishes.
Finally, many hotels are putting their restaurant and hotel room service menus online, allowing diners to compare prices and menu offerings (a most welcome change).
If you’re a hotel manager or aspire to be one, you should consider these changes as coming directly “from the top”—your customer.