Hotel Professionals

Room service – A distinguishing factor for a hotel

room service

Conrad Hilton is one of the most important American entrepreneurs in the hotel industry. He single-handedly invented the modern American luxury hotel industry and helped expand it worldwide.

Even after his death in 1979 hundreds of Hilton hotels opened all over the world. The trend continues today. All four or five star hotels must provide 24/7 room service to obtain the coveted classification.

In luxury hotels “astronomical” prices are being charged, therefore guests expect higher quality linen, decor, bathrooms, amenities, and superior service, including 24/7 room service.

All of the above must live up to the contractual agreement implied with luxury that invariably is reflected in the price.

Ironically, the largest Hilton Hotel in New York City is the first luxury property to abolish room service with the claim that it generates only a little more than one per cent of the total revenue and hence is not worth pursuing.

It is true that room service in many hotels fails to generate profits but it constitutes part and parcel of superior service, especially in business hotels catering to an international clientele.

It is fraught with problems, haphazard physical layouts contribute to delays in delivery, often food arrives cold, or the order is incomplete. Remedies for shortcomings take time, and frustrate guests.

Room service that is well executed convinces guests that your hotel cares about every aspect of service, and generates more revenue.

In resort operations and business hotels room service must be organized and delivered promptly.

In business hotels room service is very busy for breakfast between 7 – 9 a.m. Precise delivery becomes a necessity to prevent complaints.

The shape of the hotel (vertical or horizontal design) and equipment contribute greatly to the smooth operation. In high-rise hotels one dedicated elevator for 20 floors, each of which may contain up to 30 rooms, simply cannot handle the load for full service breakfast successfully.

If and when management decides to discontinue room service, at least 24/7 buffet-style food should be made available for guests who arrive in the middle of the night, or want to have coffee at 2 a. m.

Many tourists shy away from using room service if they can help it. Yet, business people like the luxury, and honeymooning couples appreciate the convenience.

In most hotels food delivery from nearby restaurants or pizzerias (at least in North America) is strictly discouraged.

If management decides to prohibit food delivery from outside sources to rooms, it should at least allow bellhops to deliver the order to a guest room.

It is imperative to deliver hot food hot and cold food chilled specially designed carts must be employed. While the food is kept hot it continues to cook and dries out. The best solution is to cook in the room, or at least finish the dish there, then serve it. This is an expensive proposition but can be done.

In luxury resort operations guests expect, even insist on extensive room service. Some resorts featuring villas assign a cook to each villa, for a set charge.

A few luxury hotels offer in-room dining options successfully for business people, or families who prefer the privacy of their room or suite. In such cases, servers must be extremely well trained, discreet and diplomatic.

In fact, room service waiters encounter all kinds of unexpected situations in rooms, i.e upon knocking on

the door they may be faced with a completely naked guest, or be told to open the door only to see a couple engaged in a sex act, or even be invited to participate.

Sometimes guests decide to call management and complain about inappropriate behaviour.

Room service at the best of times is a problematic department, but experienced managers provide the best possible service as part of the overall promise that an upscale operation guarantees and is expected to deliver.

A limited menu consisting of cold items, with the exception of coffee, tea, chocolate may be manageable, if and when, there is small and dedicated service area. on every floor next to the elevator landing

Orders collected overnight from door knobs can be prepared, placed on each floor, and delivered quickly after hot beverages are loaded on the tray.

Full and complicated menus containing poached eggs, eggs Benedict, omelettes, Belgian waffles, fried eggs sunny side up, scrambled eggs, and many others represent logistical and textural problems.

An elevator equipped with a small stove and well trained speedy cook can prepare egg orders while the elevator travels, delivering required dishes at the landing. This requires specialized communication equipment but may be a solution in some cases.

In resort operations with bungalows or villas, room service by necessity is wide spread, and some kind of motorized delivery system must be employed. The planning and layout of the property must be well thought out for such method to function properly.

Bicycles may be employed to facilitate delivery.

In some business hotels, 24/7 rooms service is now routinely available and much appreciated by international business people, but it must be well executed to be effective.

Room service menus must be compiled with the shape of the building, position of all rooms within, and ability to deliver. Short menus are recommended.

Room service order takers must be extremely well trained, know the menu inside and out, and be able to recommend dishes to augment orders.

In this crucial department staff must be well organized, trained, and very discreet. All servers must be quick thinking, and act intelligently if and when unexpected situations occur.

In many business hotels the daily local newspaper is delivered routinely to each occupied room.

In some business hotels extended bar and food service may be requested occasionally for executive suites.

In most cases guests place trays of dishes in front of their rooms. It is incumbent for room service staff to remove all as quickly as possible to prevent losses and unsightly looking trays in corridors.

Guests are known to “pinch” salt and pepper shakers, coffee thermoses, and other accoutrements.

Well-managed room series is a drawing card for a business, or resort hotel and can help increase occupancy, but must be well panned and maintained.

Room service enhances the guest experience and can be lucrative.

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