What the majority of travelers today want when staying in a hotel is, quite simply, an efficient way to order what they want, when they want it. Today’s hotel guests have already largely adapted to the mobile world.
When you textthey want to communicate through channels they’ve grown accustomed to, like using WhatsApp.
When posting on social mediathey use Instagram
When you hail a cabthey use UBER.
When they order foodthey use Deliveroo (in the western world) or Talabat (in the Middle East).
The overriding common denominator of these examples is that they are universally adopted modes of communication, using a single application solution that works globally.. It should come as no surprise that there has been a market push to demand that hotels adopt a more lenient policy on in-hotel dining.
How has the pandemic changed hotel restaurant operations?
The pandemic has accelerated customer centricity for hotel catering in ways we could not have imagined five years ago. Hotel customers today are looking for more flexibility in the types of cuisine they can order, given the ease and variety they have at their fingertips when ordering through Deliveroo, UberEATS, Postmates, Talabat, etc. at home.
Today’s hotel operators are desperate for qualified staff, face supply chain issues, loss of guest loyalty, “again – again” problems related to the appearance of new variants of Covid, etc.
What should hotels be doing right now?
What hoteliers should be looking for is a solution that meets the “click and collect” activity requested by their customers. let’s call it “deliver and flatter”, for lack of a better term. This could take the form of dedicated delivery counters or catering points within hotels.
Also, food reheating, re-plating, and delivery or pick-up service (whatever the customers prefer) is surely something the customer would be willing to pay a service charge for, so what prevents hoteliers from giving customers what they want and when they want it?
Food and drink issues with deliverability
- The stability and regularity of food delivery needs to be better controlled.
- Delivery temperatures must be better controlled to allow certain service fundamentals to be respected: hot dishes must be served hot, and cold dishes cold. Couldn’t we imagine a real-time temperature tracker throughout the delivery process, from the moment the meal leaves the shadow kitchen until the delivery window?
- There is the issue of liability for any food poisoning claims that may arise. Could this be covered by in-app disclaimers?
- Naturally, hotels risk losing their image by being associated with poor quality suppliers.
Could, would and should
A few things to think about:
- Could hotels start being referenced on food delivery platforms to integrate into their in-house food delivery journey, providing a smoother experience for its customers?
- Could this be a great opportunity to reduce the high overhead of running restaurant operations in hotels? Imagine what hotels could do with the cost savings – how about increasing staff wages and salaries?
- Should hotels even consider branching out into the operations of these models through strategically located shadow kitchen logistics, providing them with an opportunity the hotel has never had before: true scaling of operations local restaurants. Not only would this allow such a hotel to tap into a new business model and market, but could it still leverage its reputation in the cities where it operates?
How Hospitality and Technology Should Align
One thing is certain, the convergence between hospitality and big tech companies had started long before Covid. For example, OTA Kayak ventured into hotel operations by opening its Kayak Hotel Miami Beach and Uber ventured into food deliveries.
But the pandemic has had a catalytic effect on the industry and consumer adoption. Another thing is undeniable: we must adapt and accept this new reality, because those who embrace this change will reap great rewards.