Remember the days when you used to check in at your hotel at midnight after a delayed flight dreaming of having a pampering shower and calling room service to order a juicy hamburger to relax? Well, as sung by UK pop group Bucks Fizz back in the 1980s, “Now Those Days Are Gone.” This experience is getting harder and harder to find. Hotels report that providing room service is almost always a loss for them.
After COVID-19 especially, room service is dwindling significantly. 2013 was the year when travelers were shocked to read that the 2,000-room New York Hilton Midtown announced it would discontinue room service, offering hotel guests the gourmet self-service Herb n’ Kitchen outlet. The industry started to follow, and more and more hotels in the US felt it was legitimate to slowly eliminate this pampering service.
Luxury brands are obliged to maintain room service. They are aware that customers are in no shortage of funds, so enormous fees for food, drinks and delivery services are here to stay. For movie lovers, it’s also encouraging news. Motion picture clichés like On Her Majesty’s Secret Room Service, defining the 007 James Bond character, will not disappear so quickly. Nevertheless, the hospitality industry is experiencing a tectonic change.
Room service is a burden for hotels, as it’s financially and logistically challenging. In most cases, hotels just can’t make money with it. Still, numerous hotels continue to offer room service, largely because they fear their prestige and perceived value will deteriorate if they don’t. The consequences of offering room service versus doing away with it seem equally undesirable. The round-the-clock staffing that room service requires is factored in and there are simply not enough guest orders to make up for those costs. The solution is problematic, as well: cutting costs, smaller portions, cold meals only and microwave heating are some remedies.