Using data to make decisions about food and beverage offerings and how to maximise revenue as a result.
Room service has been a hallmark of hotel luxury for nearly a century. Over the years, it has evolved to play a key role in boosting guest satisfaction. And since the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, hotels have transformed their room service to reflect the growing demand for safety and convenience. If one of your primary goals is to jumpstart your revenue, then arguably there is no time like the present to create an irresistible in-room dining experience.
The key to increased room service sales is to map out a plan that reflects room service order data collected by a large sample of hotels. Then, revamp your food and beverage menu to reflect data trends collected from guests who stay in hotels similar to yours. For extra points be sure to add that “special something” that sets your hotel brand apart from the others! Simply copying what everyone else does is not ideally where the smart money lies. Finally, your plan should include an effective means of promoting your exciting new menu. Below is a look at four simple steps you can follow to developing a strategy to boost your hotel’s room service sales.
Step One: Review current room service data
Before diving blindly into menu updates and promotions, it’s critical to review the most recent room service trends so you know what changes you should make. Some people make the mistake of forging ahead with food and beverage changes that they think or hope will lead to increased sales. This is not a proven strategy and can lead to a waste of money and resources.
Rather than guess which item will be the most popular, it’s much better to carve out some time to gather and review actual room service ordering data. If you’re not sure how to approach the data review process, here are three sources of information you can use:
- Your hotel record base: You can start by pulling any room service data you’ve managed to collect over the past two years.
- Room service receipts: If you haven’t been tracking room service orders, you can gather in-room dining receipts from the past two years.
- External data reviews: Data-driven companies, such as these, organize data from hundreds of hotels to identify the most popular room service items.
Ideally, it’s best to review all three types of data together. This will allow you to compare the most commonly ordered foods and beverages at your hotel with the latest industry trends. You can also discover if your menu is missing any of the most popular food and beverage items identified through your review of data from other hotels.
Step Two: Revisit and improve your food and beverage choices
Now that you have plenty of room service data to review from your own hotel and others, you can consider these findings as you review your existing menu. Here are some tips to follow as you review in-room dining ordering trends from your own hotel:
- Identify your top five beverages and your top five food items based on your room service data and receipts
- Isolate the bottom five beverages and bottom five food items ordered during the same time frame
- Review your menu to be sure it includes the top five foods and beverages referenced in your review of external data
- Consider removing unpopular items and adding items that are currently trending upward
SuitePad’s review of food and beverages ordered through room service revealed that there were some distinct front runners in terms of food and beverage choices. Here is a look at some of the specific findings from the study:
- Burgers were a runaway winner as the most ordered food item among all types of hotels
- Pasta dishes were ordered the least, but were slightly more popular at city hotels
- Orange juice finished first as the most ordered beverage item overall
- Beer finished last overall, following orange juice, coffee, soft drinks, and water
A final point to consider as you update your menu is the breakdown of your clientele. If there are a lot of families with children who stay at your hotel, that can influence the popularity of items such as burgers and fries. On the flip side, if you cater to adults and city dwellers, you can expect more orders for alcoholic beverages.
Step Three: Consider your location and hotel type
Before you forge ahead with a major menu overhaul, it’s important to remember that no two hotels are exactly alike. Research by USA Travel Today indicates that the most popular room service menu items vary somewhat according to hotel type and location. To illustrate this variance, they compared data obtained by four primary hotel categories:
- City Hotels
- Design/Lifestyle Hotels
- Leisure/Resort Hotels
- Meeting, Incentive, Conference, and Exhibition (MICE) Hotels
While some guest ordering trends remained fairly constant across hotel type, there were also some significant differences. For example, burgers topped the list of most popular food choices across all hotel types. But a comparison of beverage preferences showed some substantial differences among the four hotel types. For example, orange juice was, by far, the most popular room service beverage at resort and leisure hotels but was a distant fifth choice at city hotels.
Another factor to consider is your location or geographic region. For instance, if your hotel is in Little Italy, you would definitely want to think twice before you cut back on your pasta dishes. And if your hotel is in the UK, you may wish to increase your club sandwich options due to their regional popularity.
So, before you decide to invest in a speciality orange juice or seasoned french fries, remember to interpret external data with caution. And whenever possible, look for trends that reflect the location and type of hotel you operate.
Step Four: Launch a winning campaign to promote your new in-room dining menu
You can come up with an award-winning menu redesign, but without the proper promotional campaigns, you will never maximize the return on the time and money you invested. The typical consumer has an attention span of about 8 seconds – so captivating your hotel guests right away is an absolute must. It’s then up to you to keep them interested and satisfied with your in-room dining offerings through convenience, personalization, and speed.
One of the most notable trends among successful hotels is to offer more intuitive, modern room service to guests. One effective strategy is to incentivise your guests to interact with the hotel’s own app, e.g. via a simple add-on to the PMS like protel Voyager, that enables them to quickly browse your menu and place their orders using their own device. This strategy will give your guests a fast, convenient way to order food and drinks and provides guests with a contactless, COVID-19 safe experience. At the same time, you can instantly capture search data and orders placed via the app to improve your menu offerings.
There are other ways to capture your guests’ attention and entice them to order room service. Here are some cost-effective techniques to help you effectively promote your in-room dining options as soon as your guests walk through the door:
- Samples in the lobby: Every new guest must walk through your lobby, so it’s a great place to begin your onsite promotional activities. You can establish a “Welcome Kiosk” where guests can receive free samples of some of your newest menu additions. With COVID-19 this is not encouraged but no one says you can’t have the smell of some freshly baked cookies wafting across the lobby.
- Elevator advertising: Your elevators likely run a close second to your lobby in terms of guest usage. You can use your elevator walls to advertise new menu additions, food and beverage combos, and other special promotions.
- Gift cards and coupons: You can include a voucher for a free dessert with the purchase of a meal. You can include these cards and coupons in a welcome envelope, or keep them handy at your Welcome Kiosk.
- Stairwell banner ads: Stairwells are seeing increased usage down to COVID-19 and elevator restrictions, there’s no better time to add banner advertising to the walls. A simple digital signage system can be hooked up for much less money than you would think.
- Traditional leaflets and flyers: Just because you are introducing new promotions does not mean you have to get rid of traditional leaflets and flyers. Some guests prefer to head straight to their rooms upon arrival and will instinctively look for these items to order food.
By implementing the four steps above – at least in your planning – you will create a more satisfying in-room dining experience for your guests. At the same time, you will boost your chance of making more revenue and position your hotel to become a leader in room service success.
The process of measuring and testing data is ongoing and eternal. The more often you do this the more relevant, up-to-date and useful the data you collect becomes. Fortunately, the more you do it the easier it gets.
With a fruitful strategy now in place, you may be tempted to turn your focus to improving other aspects of your hotel’s operations. But it’s important to remember that room service improvements do not occur in a vacuum. A focus on continued quality improvement is a must in order to ensure increased revenue in the future. Here are some measures to take to help you maintain your momentum moving forward:
- Remain abreast of industry trends: Periodically review the latest room service data, paying close attention to food and beverage trends.
- Encourage guest feedback: Surveys, online reviews, and comment cards can all provide valuable feedback regarding your room service.
- Embrace digital technology: Incorporating digital technology into your plan is a must, as it has breathed life into the world of room service.
To discover more ways to boost your hotel’s revenue, we invite you to reach out to us at protel. As a preferred partner for over 14,000 hotels across the globe, we offer a variety of solutions to help your hotel grow and thrive in today’s competitive landscape. We look forward to working with you to maximize occupancy and guest satisfaction! If you aren’t using protel yet then what are you waiting for?