Tag Archives: Hilton

The Death of Room Service

6 Jun
Room Service

Room Service
Image: Trevor H. via Flickr

Room service always seems to be integral to the image of a fancy hotel.  The server waltzing in with white gloves and tailored jacket pushing a clothed cart topped with a silver tray is an iconic indicator of excellent service.  However, New York’s largest hotel, the Hilton Midtown, will be shutting down the service and replacing it with a cafeteria-like eatery this summer.  The move will cut 55 jobs from the hotel and is just the biggest move in the beginning of an industry trend.  Another Hilton in Hawaii has already ended room service, and several other large hotels in Chicago and New York have cut back on food offerings.

Apparently the age old tradition of ordering food delivered to your hotel room actually hurts the bottom line.  Consultants and managers for the Hilton and other hotels have advised a cutback, saying there has been a steady decline in room service in recent years.  Part of it may be that people are cutting back after the decline in the economy, but the other part may be due to the rise in affordable restaurants.  Chain and mid-scale restaurants are among the first industries to recover from the recession. One consultant says that no hotel is making a profit from offering room service because of the high labor cost.

Competitors are ready with the rebuttal, however.  A Mariott spokesperson said the hotel company has no plans to reduce or eliminate room service, saying that the offering is a consumer expectation for hotels of a certain caliber and reputation.  If late night snack or champagne and strawberries is important to your hotel experience, keep an eye on who is keeping the service around.  More than likely the move will look the way the airline industry’s movement to charge for bags did—people will complain at first, until it becomes the new normal.