It seems that the biggest story at the moment is about room service, well at least at Hilton it is. The NY Hilton will discontinue room service in October. Most full service hotels do offer room service in one fashion or another. I don’t use it, why? Well I can’t justify on my expense account a club sandwich and coffee for $38.50. If I could it had better be one hell of a sandwich. Most corporations exclude room service prices on expense accounts. Morning coffee with Danish $21.50 (2) do you realize how many Starbucks coffee I could have for that bill? It does not include the tip. So the question now becomes will other hotels follow suit? Mid-tier properties don’t have to be concerned, since most don’t have room service.
Now will Starwood, Marriott and the rest follow in Hilton’s footstep? Will it be a good thing, for the customers? Most hotels that offer room service don’t really make a profit. You would have to look at what impact it would have on each brand’s customer base. How many people actually use room service? Today all rooms have a coffee maker so unless you really like $20.00 coffee, use the in room coffee. The other alternative is going down to the restaurant and getting coffee to go. I wonder about the reader’s thought on this?
I called up a few colleagues of mine that are working in full service properties around the USA. Yes, the room service prices were somewhat steep and the consensus was that room service was labor intensive. The menus were different, depending on the area (Geographic) but, nevertheless, very expensive. I also inquired if they had read about Hilton’s decision to close theirs. Most of them had read about it. The attitude is wait and see. I know that some people are going to be terminated over this decision. Hilton is taking out an entire department within the F&B department.
Now here comes the tsunami — if Hilton stays the course and removing room service from its full service hotels does not alter anything major, then the rest of the big chains will probably follow as well. The savings in payroll alone is a substantial amount, not counting the benefit package that comes with it. The hotels will have some sort of a night brown bag type package for those that really want some food late at night. Every time a hotel takes out a department it causes an uproar in some circles, the housekeepers in Boston, slot personnel in Vegas, and such. You have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Sometimes when you remove things, and then you want to return them it becomes a worst nightmare scenario. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens. I do understand that the Hilton hotel in Hawaii has discontinued room service. In Hawaii I can understand it, hell MacDonald’s is like going to 4 star restaurant (mucho money)…
Time will tell what the outcome will be, maybe the NY Hilton will change its mind between now and October.
About the Author
Alan Campbell has been in Las Vegas for over 30 years and has worked for the major strip hotels. He has spent some time in California, Los Angeles where he worked for the Radisson and Sheraton hotels. Alan considers the hospitality industry the best job in the world - it is the only place that both king's and Paupers will visit you.