What the travelling majority wants today when staying at a hotel is, simply put, an effective way to order what they want and when they want. Today’s hotel customers have already highly adopted to the mobile world.
When texting, they want to communicate through channels they have become accustomed to, like using WhatsApp.
When posting on social media, they use Instagram
When hailing a cab, they use UBER.
When they order in food, they use Deliveroo (in the Western world) or Talabat (in the middle East).
The overarching common denominator of these examples is that they are universally adopted modes of communication, using one single app solution that works globally. It should not come as a surprise that there has been a market push in demanding that hotels adopt a more lenient policy when it comes to hotel dining.
How Has the Pandemic Changed Hotel Food Service Operations?
The pandemic has accelerated customer centricity for hotel food and beverage in ways we could not have imagined five years ago. Hotel customers today are looking for more flexibility in what types of cuisine they can order, considering the ease and variety they have at their fingertips when ordering through Deliveroo, UberEATS, Postmates, Talabat etc. at home.
Today’s hospitality operators are desperately looking for qualified staff, dealing with supply chain issues, disappearing customer loyalty, the “on again – off again” issues tied to the appearance of new Covid variants, etc.
What Should Hotels be Doing Right Now?
What hotel operators should be looking at is a solution that responds to the “click and collect” activity their customers are demanding. Let’s call it “deliver and pander”, for the lack of a better term. This could take shape through dedicated delivery windows or catering points within hotels.
Further, the re-heating of food, re-plating and delivery or pick up service (whatever the customers prefer) is surely something the customer would be willing to pay a service fee for, so what’s keeping hotel operators from giving the customers what they want and when they want it?
Food and Beverage Issues with Deliverability
The stability and consistency of food delivery needs to be better controlled.
Delivery temperatures need to be better managed to allow for some service fundamentals to be respected: hot food should be served hot, and cold food cold. Could we not imagine a real-time temperature tracker throughout the entire delivery process, from the moment the meal leaves the ghost kitchen to the delivery window?
There’s the liability issue for any food intoxication claim that might arise. Could this be covered through in-app disclaimers?
Understandably, there’s the hotels’ risk of suffering an image loss by being associated with low-quality vendors.
The Could’s, Would’s and Should’s
Some Food for Thought:
Could hotels begin to be referenced on food delivery platforms to be integrated into their in-house food delivery journey, providing a more seamless experience to its customers?
Would it be a great opportunity to reduce the high overheads of running food service operations within hotels? Just imagine what hotels would be able to do with the cost savings – how about increasing staff salaries and wages?
Should hotels even consider diversifying into such models’ operations through strategically located ghost kitchen logistics, providing them with an opportunity hotel never had before: the real scaling of local food service operations. Not only would this allow such a hotel to tap into a new business model and market, but would this possibly further leverage their reputation in the cities they are operating in?
How Hospitality and Tech Should Align
One thing is for sure, the convergence between hospitality and big tech companies had started long before Covid. For example, OTA Kayak has ventured into hotel operations by opening its Kayak Hotel Miami Beach and Uber had ventured into food deliveries.
But, the pandemic has had a catalyst effect on the industry and consumer adoption. Another thing is undeniable: We need to adapt and accept this new reality, as those that embrace this change will reap great rewards.
German-born Frank Schuetzendorf has built his international hospitality career over the past 25 years as a Food and Beverage professional within the top luxury hotel market. Frank is the founder of Pariscape Consulting, consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants and holds an adjunct professor title at Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland, Ecole Ducasse and Essec business school in Paris. Pariscape Consulting offers various workshops to assist food and beverage operators. He has had various operational and executive management roles in food & beverage, at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, Klaret Group, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, plus Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, to name a few. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the Open University, UK.