In-Room Dining: No Longer an Achilles Heel

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In-Room Dining: No Longer an Achilles Heel

By Jan T. Albers, Deputy GM, The Chedi Lustica Bay, Montenegro - 02/13/2020

In 2018, we realized we needed to review our food and beverage offering. The year before we’d implemented a bespoke high-tech solution for guest communication, believing that a technology investment would boost our revenues in the face of competition from food delivery apps and local restaurants.

Naturally, we are always searching for ways to improve and maintain the highest standards when it comes to meeting guest expectations and providing exceptional, contemporary services. We wanted to further augment our highly acclaimed food and beverage offerings, provide more options for guests and improve their in-room dining experience.

In-room dining is the Achilles heel of most hotels, but for us, it seemed like an untapped opportunity with guests often choosing to eat at many great dining options nearby. People who stayed in our villas and on yachts would often order food from competing establishments. I wanted to make our own offering more enticing to try and capture some of that potential revenue.

I was surprised to learn that guests were commonly attaching much higher significance to the quality and ease of a hotel’s room service. So we looked for an option we could trial that would not cause disruption to our existing operations. I was also interested in how we might be able to integrate our various extended assets such as all our apartments, villas and chartered yachts in the marina. 

At an industry conference, I met RoomOrders (www.roomorders.com), a web-based solution that can sit alongside existing ways of managing in-room dining. That was important to us because it meant we were effectively adding to the choices available to guests rather than imposing big changes on staff and returning guests. I learned about one of their pilot projects at Fin Point in Boston Hilton Downtown, which increased its average order value by over 30% during a 3-month trial, while another pilot in Hilton Sydney was almost tripling those results. For us at The Chedi, it always comes down to our search for continual improvement in guest experience and testing our assumptions as effectively as possible.

Pretty quickly we’ve been able to implement the RoomOrders platform to allow guests to order meals and refreshments from their suite on their own device. It was a particular thrill when we bought electric scooters to handle delivery to our villas and moored yachts. It’s still early days, but we are seeing strong engagement. We noticed an increase in value per order for two main reasons. Firstly, our menu instantly became more visual, so our international visitors were more inclined to order more of our fine dining options; and secondly, the cross-selling and up-selling happens automatically during the order process. It’s seamless. Guests can see the progress of their order, nothing gets missed, and we can extract the data regularly to review and understand guest behavior in more detail, personalize services and continually improve quality. That’s what we’re all about.

We feel like we’ll now be able to defend and compete against surrounding food and beverage options. In fact, we are looking into embracing our competition as partners in a digital ecosystem, interconnecting local restaurants and other third-party vendors on our RoomOrders menu in a revenue-sharing arrangement. Effectively, with one easy decision, we’ve gone over the top of the whole issue and provided a simple platform that more guests seem to prefer.

I can see a future where we will be fully digitally interconnected with key vendors in our ecosystem, including convenience stores, pharmacies and wellness centers, which will all deliver additional revenues for our resort. 

For now, our primary focus is on becoming a digital hotel, phasing out fixed telephony and adapting to the changing habits of our guests, who are increasingly digital natives. We understand it’ll take time as behaviors gradually change, but we know the future is digital. 

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