Nobody Is Ordering Hotel Room Service Anymore — And You Probably Know Why

July 16, 2018

Think about it: When was the last time you went away on vacation, got comfortable in bed, and ordered a whole bunch of room service to enjoy while watching TV? If you’re like many other travelers, it’s probably been a really long time since the thought has even crossed your mind. Travel reports show that nobody is ordering hotel room service anymore… and you can probably guess the reason why.

The reason is, of course, that’s it’s too expensive. Room service menus are notoriously pricey, with even the most simple of items being the double the price of what they would be if you bought them while sitting in a restaurant. And as it turns out, offering room service is also really expensive for the hotel itself. It’s come to a point where, for many hotels, it’s no longer profitable. Alex Susskind, associate professor of food-and-beverage management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, told Restaurant Hospitality, “[Hotels are] just not seeing the return on this anymore. It’s expensive to maintain and the quality is hard to keep up.”

Many hoteliers believe that another reason for the decline in room service ordering is that many travelers prefer to eat local when they’re on vacation, which also makes sense. On top of that, people are now so used to being able to order food from any restaurant they want, whenever they want, thanks to apps like Seamless, that they don’t really need room service anymore. It was considered a luxury when food delivery wasn’t so popular, but times have changed.

Because of all of this, many hotels are trying a new approach: partnering with local restaurants to offer guests in-room dining menus that are similar to what they would see if they went out to eat. Restaurant Hospitality refers to this as “restaurant delivery as amenity.”

These menus are cheaper than your standard room service menu, with a small delivery cost, and they also don’t cost the hotel any money. Because of the convenience, it’s a big value to guests, and one that many seem to appreciate. It’s also a clever way for hotels to deal with the competition they’ve been up against, which is local restaurants that guests frequent instead of spending money and time in their hotel.

Glenn Haussman, host of the No Vacancy travel podcast, said that he’s noticed this new trend popping up in more and more restaurants, and thinks it’s a great idea. He stated, “I’m seeing this trend big time. It removes the burden from the hotelier to be responsible [for food and beverage] and gives the guests something that is uniquely local. It really is a win-win.”

We can’t help but agree. Eating delicious local food in the comfort of your hotel room? Yeah, that sounds pretty freakin’ great.

If you’re planning on traveling to a different country soon, we have some great tips to follow when looking for the best local meals.