As on-demand food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo gain traction, hotels are noticing a trend for guests shunning room service from on-site kitchens in favour of ordering takeways to their rooms. By Jenny Southan

A report from guest experience management firm HGEM has revealed that two thirds (66 per cent) of hotel guests have used a delivery service to order food to their room. Apparently, pizza delivery people are becoming a more common site in the lobbies of five-star hotels…

Outsourced room service is even more popular among millennials – 71 per cent of guests aged between 26 and 35 years said they have ordered-in food using an app while staying in a hotel.

Although 80 per cent of guests expect hotels to have an on-site restaurant, only 72 per cent will use it, and only for breakfast. And even though many hotels offer a room service menu (many 24 hours a day), 81 per cent of hotel guests say they would never use it.

In the future, room service deliveries from external companies are predicted to rise by 83 per cent.

HGEM says this is due to a combination of personal preferences, quality and cost, with 48 per cent of consumers saying they find hotel food unappealing and 35 per cent arguing that room service is too expensive.

Hotels, then, have a problem. They either need to fight back, banning food deliveries and making room service more appealing and affordable, or embrace the lifestyle shift and encourage and collaborate.

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality, says: “This is a fascinating topic and one that has left many wondering if hotels will adjust and raise the bar of what is offered to their customers while looking at new ways to increase their profit lines.

“This is a fast-paced evolution that is becoming an accepted norm today. It’s a growing trend that won’t go away, in fact one of the attendees recounted how they will often ‘order in’ food in a five-star London hotel and walk downstairs in their pyjamas to collect it, almost to make a point to the hotel of the need to diversify their services or lose their future custom.”

In London’s the City and East End, it the majority of Deliveroo bookings are made between 8pm and 9pm, while in the West End it is after 11pm.

Interestingly, Deliveroo’s head of business, Alberto Lo Bue, has said the company has already been having conversations with hotels about creating Deliveroo “dark kitchens” within hotels themselves. This would mean food would come from downstairs rather than an external restaurant.

Other ideas that hotels and delivery companies need to consider include:

  • Hotels are taking in the deliveries but how can they create personalised service levels for customers?
  • Should hotels create space in their bars for Deliveroo menus that serve to increase bar spend and dwell times?
  • Will hotels create space in their restaurants for guests to eat takeaways?
  • Will hotels outsource their restaurants altogether?
  • Should hotels try and increase their profits and cut costs through partnerships with delivery companies?

Sheppardson says: “It wasn’t long ago that hotels charged for wifi and other in-room services such as phone calls and movies that have all been eroded. One thing is clear, hotels will need to look at how they can provide new services if they are to engage and retain their guests in the future.”

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