Hotels can set themselves apart by offering a unique experience, from exceptional concierge services to themed rooms that transport guests to another place. One of the frequently overlooked ways of attracting guests is room service. Too often, room service is an afterthought, which can leave guests regretting their decision not to order food from somewhere else. When hotels go above and beyond with the food that they offer, they can drive customer loyalty. The following are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to delivering exceptional room service:
1. Focus on presentation.
While presentation is important when it comes to fine dining, it is perhaps even more critical for room service. If a meal arrives and does not look appetizing, then you can send it back before even taking a bite. At a minimum, you should deliver the meal and present each dish while explaining it so that guests have time to investigate the order and ask for anything else that they might need. However, hotels may want to consider more creative approaches to presentation. For example, one hotel in St. Bart’s actually serves pasta in a bowl made out of cheese. An entire wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano arrives at the door, and guests can watch as the chef carves it into a bowl and fills it with spaghetti and black truffle for a truly decadent feast. Good presentation makes food more attractive and encourages people to order again on another day or even to ask for something extra, such as a dessert, after a meal.
2. Offer time-specific menus.
While the idea of offering different types of food throughout the day is far from groundbreaking, hotels can take it a step further by focusing on the needs of guests at different times. Even at the same time of day, guests may have radically different needs, and hotels should recognize this fact and develop their menus accordingly. For example, many hotels offer late-night menus with quicker—and often more indulgent—food than is available during dinner. This sort of menu helps people arriving to the hotel late or coming back after a night on the town. However, some travelers may have different needs. A Chicago-based hotel offers a sleep menu that provides options to help people relax and fall asleep. This menu includes everything from nightcaps to herbal elixirs and also non-food items, such as a custom pillow collection.
3. Make the meal interactive.
Several different methods exist to make a meal interactive, and all of them help to make the experience more memorable. A simple way to achieve this is by offering in-room preparation, which is similar to table service at restaurants. For example, chefs can put the final touches on a flambé right in front of guests to add a little drama to the experience. A hotel in Arizona has taken a more unique approach to interactive meals by offering raw, yet seasoned, meat for the barbecue as part of room service. The cuts of meat come to the room ready for guests to throw them on the grill, which can be found on an outside patio. That way, guests can cook the meat just the way they like it.
4. Provide convenient options.
While some guests have time to enjoy a large meal in the comfort of their rooms, others may need to run quickly to a meeting or appointment. For this reason, many hotels offer a quick-service menu with items that can be delivered to a room fast, usually in 15 minutes or less. Hotels should heavily advertise this option so that guests know it exists when they start to panic. One hotel chain takes this concept a step further by offering pre-made meals for people to take on their flights. The gourmet meals are packed in a security-friendly manner so that guests do not have to worry at all. These to-go meals can be delivered to the door prior to check-out or handed directly to the driver on the way to the airport for maximum convenience.
5. Pair food with alcohol.
Food and alcohol pairings are not only for upscale restaurants. Many guests who want to relax at night will jump at the chance to get a drink that has been chosen to pair specifically with their meal. Hotels can keep it simple by providing a suggested wine for the meal or think outside the box with funky cocktails. This offering is a great way to embrace some local culture and pair food with local microbrews or drinks made with locally distilled spirits. When it comes to cocktails, hotels should consider having servers pour the drinks directly in the room, which will add a little bit of flair to the experience while saving the drink from becoming watered down. Wines should always be poured in the room, and it is also beneficial for beer to stay on ice as long as possible before being presented to guests.