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Room service gone wrong: have you left your guests in the pre-mobile dark ages?

How being smart about hotel room service can make it profitable again

Room service revenues have dropped 9.5% from 2007 to 2012 according to Market Watch, prompting some hotels to ditch the service altogether. If your room service sales in need of resuscitation and you want to modernise this legacy service but unsure of how to do it affordably, well, forget little white linened trolleys and Downton-style silver cloched dishes. Listen to your Millennial market and let their smartphones drive your room service revolution for you.

Millennials. What’s the fuss all about?
For a start, they’re the fastest growing Travel segment and they have a $200+ billion spending power to match. Every demographic to follow Millennials will be more technologically oriented, more connected and less tolerant of brands and business who are slow or stubbornly refuse to enable them to socialise, make plans, transact and share their experiences via mobile, tablet or perhaps even wearable tech.

Diamond rated hotels don’t have the option to scrap in-room dining. AAA diamond rating standards state a 4-diamond hotel is required to have room service available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a 5-diamond hotel needs to have room service available 24/7. So the Millennials’ coming of spending age couldn’t have happened at a better time for hotels keen to keep their sparkle.

It doesn’t need to be a terminal case. Instead of depriving guests of this once beloved service, why not give it a 21st Century facelift and make it profitable once again? You have a large, affluent demographic hungry for mobile interaction and expecting lightning fast service and convenience meaning a digital dining experience is ripe for the picking.

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Harnessing tech to revive room service
Picture it. It’s 8pm, you’re exhausted and have just checked in. There’s nowhere to eat nearby and you’re too tired to leave the sanctuary of your room anyway after travelling all day. All you want is to put your feet up, catch up on a few emails and eat something so you whip out your mobile, open the room service app, hit ‘the usual’ and voila. 10 minutes later you have a piping hot chicken schnitzel with chips, a warm chocolate fudge brownie and a refreshing bottle of Corona and lime waiting to be snarfed. Now who wouldn’t use that service? No calls to reception to order, no complicated meal customisations to remember and no getting the order wrong. Your guest gets exactly what they want, when they want it making the whole service more efficient for you in the process.

In 2013, New York Hilton Midtown took a fresh approach to their room service woes by opening Herb n’ Kitchen – an upscale culinary market that provides fresh, local food to guests for dine-in, takeaway or even in-room delivery. This model has proved to be a success but if they took that extra step and sprinkled a bit of self-order and pay into the mix, they’d not only be championing the next level of guest convenience but could boost sales and foster loyalty from that all important Millennial market too.


Aloft Hotel in London has taken mobile room service to a whole new level when it launched the world’s first Emoji room service a couple of months ago. By texting their room number and the right combinations of emojis to staff, guests can order ‘The Hangover’ for example which includes water, a bacon roll and a banana.

So don’t give up on room service just yet, with a little bit of mobile magic and maybe even a shift to locally-sourced, deli-style luxury, you might not only revive in-room delivery but transform the complete Hotel dining experience for the better.

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