Friday, 21 June 2013

Reinvigorating room service

A few days ago I discussed the lack of clarity in ordering Breakfast in Bed in Hotels. If we are to believe the reports in the press though, room service may well be on the way out due to a fall in popularity and also it not being cost effective for hotels.

 But if you think of the cost you pay to have a takeaway meal delivered to your house by car (in my case it seems to be £2 within a three mile radius), and in parallel the cost of various breakfast inputs at your local shop, how on earth is breakfast in bed so expensive, or put another way how on earth does it not pay? For a start, breakfast still has to be cooked regardless of whether it is delivered to the room. Equally, room service is based on 'cook to order' when the supplier knows hours in advance of the orders which have to be satisfied within specific windows of demand, whereas without room service they have little certainty of quantities to be provided or even when demand will be placed.

If room service isn't paying, is it due to lack of demand? Rather than cut room service, why not cut the price and see if there is a significant increase in demand, the fixed cost has to be the same regardless of whether it is served in the restaurant or in the room.

Another option is to question the recovery cost of the tray charge. One way of looking at that cost is the amount of unproductive time, standing around waiting for the orders. You need some staff to be on standby even to satisfy just one room service request. Again increase the demand and there will be less non-productive time. But here's an idea, why not take some unemployed people and offer them the option of piece-meal work, paying them on the basis of trays delivered and incentivise them to deliver a really great quality service and also proactively promote room service? Why not use this as a route to work?

Then we have the uncertainty associated with 'turn up when you want' breakfasts. Compared to room service you need additional seating and tables. You also need additional staff and have less predictability in demand flows. Am I missing something, or should the strategy for hotels not be to move more to room service as opposed to restaurant service?

The more I think of it, if you want to make room service work, the answer is in reducing the selling price and providing jobs for unemployed low-skilled workers. Make restaurant dining the second choice as opposed to first choice, with the opting out of breakfast in bed.

Oh and while you're at it, think of the difference in the price of my restaurant steak, I could work on the basis that the money saved through ordering of the room service menu at the restaurant, means that for the business customer, buy eight and the saving will nearly cover the price of one night's hotel accommodation - I'm sure buying steak compares favourably with reward points. Strange times!

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