Room Service

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In-room dining, room service, personal culinary delivery…whatever you call it, room service needs a major shake up.

I wonder who the first hotelier was to introduce “room service”?

Obviously, room service has been around for a very long time. “Room Service,” the 1938 movie staring the famous Marx Brothers, uses a huge room service bill as part of the main movie plot. According to AH&LA, Westin was the first hotel company to offer 24-hour room service back in 1969.

Unfortunately, not a lot has changed in hotel room service. The folding room service table with pop-out wings, the white tablecloth, and, of course, the mini flower vase, mini ketchup, mini salt & pepper, and if the hotel is going all out…the mini Tabasco bottle. Everything is wrapped in cellophane and the smell of sterno fuel wafting through the guest room.

If you are lucky, the room service waiter takes the time to unwrap everything, removing the hot items from the sterno box and taking the cello off your $20.00 dollar glass of red wine. All this while you uncomfortably sit at the end of your bed, maybe in your robe watching CNN.

Once your in-room dining experience is completed, you of course have to call down to room service to remind them to pick up the tray or cart. You are generally reminded of this via the small tent card on your dinner tray. Since most guests do not like old food hanging around their room and prefer not to again have a stranger enter their room, the tray or room service cart is placed in the hallway outside of the room.

I have seen, okay, I have been this guy, holding the guest room door open with one leg while I push the cart out into the hallway with the other. All the time hoping that the door does not slip and close behind you and lock you out. Your tray then joins the many others littered down the hall, results of forgotten deliveries and obvious unkept promises to “call room service when you are done.”

If you do happen to leave your tray in your room, maybe falling asleep while watching a movie, you trust that housekeeping will remove the tray. And they do…all the way to right outside your doorway, leaving the tray for room service to come retrieve. I have seen many a tray spending more time in the hallway than guests stay in their rooms.

So room service is not my favorite experience. With very few exceptions, my room service experiences have been less than memorable. Underwhelmed an overcharged are my memories of room service.

So to you service experts out there…what can we do? I don’t mean replace the daisy with a rose, and I don’t mean upgrade the linen. I mean what can we do to really change the way room service is offered? How do we shake this up in a big way?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments area below.