What is hotel room service?

Hotel room service enables your hotel guests to order food and drinks that are then delivered to their room for consumption. It is sometimes referred to as in-room dining. 

The novelty of room service is something that guests never seem to tire of. After a big day of sightseeing, a hot shower followed by room service and a good night’s sleep is pure luxury. 

Hotel room service takes us far away from our day-to-day routine and weekly grind. It is capable of truly defining what a “break” is all about. And while it’s a chance for you to impress your guests, there’s also the risk of leaving them a little underwhelmed by the experience.

Guests usually arrive with certain expectations based on other experiences, previous stays or things they’ve read online. So how can you meet or go above and beyond those expectations?

In this blog, we take a closer look at room service in hotels, paying special attention to what great hotel room service looks like and steps you can take to improve room service at your hotel.

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Hotel room service: Why is it important?

Room service is a lot more than the simple delivery and serving of food and beverages to guests in their room, and its impact can stretch well beyond the walls of your property.

For starters, simply having room service available at your hotel might be the reason someone chooses your hotel over another down the road. It might be the point of difference that puts you ahead of your competitors or builds your reputation as a hotel that can compete with the bigger end of town.

And while it is another income stream, it can add so much more than that too. Great room service can add some extra shine to your online reviews.

Online reviews are everywhere, from Trivago to Google, Booking.com and Facebook, and the power of online reviews is undeniable. More than 80% of people say they always or frequently read a review before booking somewhere to stay. 

For people researching their next stay, some booking sites even allow users to search reviews for those that mention room service. And if it’s something you are looking forward to, imagine how this review would influence your decision on where to stay:

I ordered room service at around 11PM, it came to the room cold. It was obvious to me that it had previously been frozen and that it hadn’t been re-heated properly. This was incredibly disappointing. When another one was eventually made and served at the correct temperature, it was missing a fork. I then called and asked for one, and instead of a fork, I was given pillows.” – Tripadvisor

What does the best hotel room service look like?

Reviews like the one above reveal the gigantic gap between the best and worst ends of the spectrum for room service. 

And they show how incredibly important it is to first get the basics right. Room service should, at the very least, tick all of these boxes:

  • Easy to order
  • A menu that caters to common dietary requirements
  • Available at convenient times throughout the day and night
  • Delivered promptly
  • Served at the correct temperature
  • Delivered with everything the guest needs to eat and enjoy the meal comfortably in the room.

Of course, the best room service goes well beyond the basics. It adds another layer of luxury to the stay and is one of the reasons guests will leave reviews, tell their friends and family, and return to stay again.

These days, with the rise of Uber Eats, Door Dash and other services that deliver meals to your home, many guests are used to having restaurant-quality meals delivered to their door. When it comes to room service, they want that little extra touch of quality or personalisation. 

Exceptional service and truly outstanding food are the things that will have guests raving about your room service. But how do you actually go about improving your room service?

How to improve room service in a hotel

To provide a great service, you have to be able to deliver what your guests want – and that means knowing your guests and what they expect.

Why are they visiting? Where are they from? What income bracket do they fall into? What are their hobbies? Where would they eat when they are in their hometown?

You can also quickly and easily get a picture of what your guests want by asking for feedback and reading online reviews for both your property and similar hotels nearby.

Other effective ways to improve room service in your hotel include:

  1. Audit how easy it is to order – Nothing is more frustrating for guests than not even getting past the first hurdle. Do you have a dedicated phone line that is always attended? Or do you have an app to handle that? 
  2. Set expectations, and don’t disappoint – Does your menu correctly describe items? Do you have systems in place to advise guests of current wait times? Are these systems working to deliver on the expectations that have been set?
  3. Be able to deliver the food – Do you have the right equipment to deliver the food and drinks at the correct temperature and without spills?
  4. Presentation is everything – Does your room service reflect this? Do your meals look appetising? Is the in-room eating area clean and well-equipped?
  5. Add a personal touch – Are you putting the “service” in room service? Does the person delivering the food or drinks add a warm and friendly touch to the delivery? Do they check everything is okay before leaving?
  6. Get feedback – Do you follow up later to get feedback? This information can help you continue to improve your service.
  7. Special occasions – Do you go the extra mile for special occasions? If you know guests are celebrating an anniversary or birthday, add a little dessert surprise or flowers to mark the occasion.
  8. Have a strong menu – Are you trying to do too much? Narrowing down your menu can help you provide a better quality service with bigger returns. Perhaps you might even just focus on breakfast only? 
  9. Match hotel values – Does your menu and service reflect the values of the hotel? For example, if sustainability is a theme at your hotel, does this carry through to room service?

Another angle for improving room service is to consider whether outsourcing is a better option. If you don’t have the resources to do room service properly, partnering with a local restaurant might be an option to consider. You could work together to create a special menu that’s exclusive to your hotel.

Hotel room service amenities to consider

Adding more interest to your room service offering can help attract more guests and build on both your reputation and returns. 

Consider adding some of these options:

  • Upmarket vending machines with fruit, juices and other snacking and beverage options to extend your offering outside of the hours of standard room service
  • “Grab and go” options such as sandwiches, muffins, salads and bottled juice in the foyer for snacking or breakfast
  • In-room snacking options that showcase local producers
  • Free popcorn or nuts delivered with beverages
  • Themed weekend deals that incorporate room service
  • Welcome drinks based on what the guests have enjoyed during previous stays.

In-room technology which allows guests to order room service via a downloadable app or in-room tablet is also something that will impress your guests. The value of convenience can’t be overstated when a guest arrives at their room after a long day of travelling or sightseeing.

How to increase room service revenue

Featuring often high margins, hotel room service revenue can make a serious difference to your bottom line. So how to increase room service revenue? Here are five of the most effective ways.

1. Promotions and packages

Every guest at your hotel will want to feel as though they’re getting a deal, and by offering room service as part of a promo or package, you can generate more revenue while also making your guest feel like they’re saving real cash. Consider offering a romance package, for example, that bundles together a room, an in-room meal and a couple’s massage.

2. Online ordering

One of the most effective ways to encourage room service purchases is to consider how to improve room service in a hotel. An ever-increasing number of hotel guests are more comfortable and familiar with ordering their meals online than they are ordering over the phone, so offer an online ordering platform for your room service.

3. Late night and early bird options

Room service can sometimes be most popular outside of standard dining hours, when other eating options are more limited. Consider extending your room service hours to capture demand before 5pm and after 9pm – even if you only offer simpler meals during these times.

4. Upselling

With the help of Little Hotelier’s booking engine, you allow guests to book directly through your website, and gain total control over the booking process. Consider including the option for a guest to pre-book room service when they first secure their reservation. The simpler the better, such as a tick box for a dinner voucher that covers a meal and a drink.

5. Digital marketing

If you’re proud of your in-room dining service, scream it from the rooftops! Promote your hotel’s room service online, pushing landing pages up the Google rankings, posting tempting pics on Insta and driving return business through email marketing campaigns.

Top tips to go beyond hotel room service and improve overall guest satisfaction 

Remember, room service is just one area of guest services at your hotel. To create a memorable and satisfying stay, all of your guest services need to work together in a cohesive way.

To turn your guests into raving fans who wool  tell anyone else that will listen about the wonderful time they had at your hotel, pay attention to these things:

  • Creating a great first impression at check-in
  • Improving your entire front office operations
  • Staying on top of housekeeping at all times
  • Acting on complaints by responding directly to the guest (and offering a fix or some form of compensation) and improving processes or training to avoid the problem in the future
  • Developing a business plan (or refining an existing plan) and using it to guide your decisions around guest services.

Finally, choosing the right hotel technology, and using it to your advantage, may be the most powerful way to perfect guest services. Tech solutions can save valuable time for both you and your guests and give you more time and insights to focus on the guest experience. 

Imagine if the mobile app guests use to order room service also gives them the power to communicate with you, learn about the local area, provide feedback at the end of their stay and book their next stay.

Technology can be a game changer when it comes to room service and your entire approach to guest services. An all-in-one hotel property management system can also help you to:

  • Take direct bookings on your website
  • Track and measure which online sales channels are generating the most bookings 
  • Manage reservations with drag and drop technology
  • Organise housekeeping and room service.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).