Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?

Discussion
Pictured: Chef James Rigato; asparagus with garlic, egg and hot sauce-yogurt - Photos: Wyndham
May 09, 2017
George Anderson

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham has launched a new pilot program with Peapod and Instacart to make deliveries directly to hotel guests.

The service, which is currently being tested at eight of the chain’s hotels in Charlotte, Chicago, Hartford, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Raleigh, NC, is intended to help guests booked for extended stays maintain their normal routines while away from home.

The hotel’s Homemade @ Hawthorn cooking program provides guests with recipes from award-winning chefs so they can make meals in their rooms. Hawthorn Suites is working with Chef Hari Nayak, a restaurateur, author and culinary consultant from New York, and Chef James Rigator, a former Top Chef competitor and the owner of The Root Restaurant & Bar and Mabel Gray in Michigan. Hotel guests go online to www.hawthorn.com/homemade to check out recipes and place their orders for delivery.

“We get everything delivered these days straight from our computers and phones, from car rides to shaving kit subscriptions to groceries — so why shouldn’t we also get them when we’re traveling for extended periods,” said Larry Hambro, vice president, brand operations, Hawthorn Suites, in a statement.

A recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Hawthorn Suites found that 66 percent of Americans, including 84 percent of Millennials, agree that being able to cook in their rooms would make them feel more comfortable while away from home. Travelers list baked goods (38 percent), pasta (31 percent) and salad (27 percent) as the foods they want while on the road.

“More and more people are getting groceries delivered at home — last year, one in 10 Millennials and Gen Xers in the U.S. shopped for groceries online, up almost 10 percent from 2015. Why shouldn’t they have that same convenient experience when away from home?” Mr. Hambro asked.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see an opportunity for online grocers and third-party delivery services to work with hotels to develop incremental revenue streams? Do you think online grocery will only work with long extended stay hotels or are their opportunities for shorter stays, as well? What will be the key to making deliveries to hotel guests work for companies such as Peapod and Instacart?

Braintrust
"With the increase in Airbnb usage as an affordable choice, particularly for families, this could be a very good idea for online grocery deliveries."
"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated while out of town on business because I couldn’t bake a torte in my room after a hard day..."
"When I’m on a trip, I stop at a nice supermarket in the area before heading to a house or hotel."

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16 Comments on "Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?"

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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

As a business traveler who spends a lot of time in hotel rooms, the last thing I want to do is prepare my own food. While I’m sure there is a market for extended stay guests, I don’t believe this would be more than a small niche.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Agreed Mark. When I travel, I crave fruit and raw vegetables, nuts and other healthy foods that allow me to stay on my normal eating regimen. Hotels can serve the guest experience by making these more available in-room or on-premises. This may seem like a half measure in serving guests, but it is the big half.

Jon Polin
BrainTrust

Any hotel stay of any length is an incremental opportunity for food delivery services. What’s less clear to me is the opportunity for a hotel to insert itself into the relationship between consumer and delivery service. Also, other than for truly extended stays, the restaurant delivery business strikes me as much bigger than the grocery delivery business for average hotel guests.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

I’m with Mark Ryski. The last thing I want to do on the road is wrangle with ingredients, especially since many hotels are located near reasonably-priced restaurants. Hotel delivery makes for good press, though.

Tom Redd
Guest

I am with Mark, this is another attempt to push the cooking TV show craze and make a fast buck. I will say that the asparagus with an egg — a famous dish at Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale, Arizona — from a fun chef and nice mom-type cook, is GREAT! Try it at home. Do not let the asparagus get soggy, the cook says. Fast fry.

Al/Randy, would you do this, guys? Really?

Lesley Everett
BrainTrust

With the increase in Airbnb usage as an affordable choice, particularly for families, this could be a very good idea for online grocery deliveries. However it will only work with longer stays of a week or more and should be targeted at these types of stay if possible. Perhaps developing a solution that provides all the basic ingredients needed as well as the choice of main meal items, a sort of midway point between traditional online grocery shopping and services such as Blue Apron, would be a good business move.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

This is a very limited market opportunity. A better opportunity exists for hotels to deliver meals other than pizza, chicken, etc. to their guests. While I agree that the last thing I want to do is to prepare a meal in my room, I am always looking for dining alternatives other than QSR food or a table for one at a local restaurant. Figure out the equivalent for a “table for one” of quality in-room dining and then you have a differential advantage. A service like Uber Eats geared to hotel guests (who do not know the local restaurant options) has real potential.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

When I’m on a trip, I stop at a nice supermarket in the area before heading to a house or hotel. I can choose what I need for the entire stay and it saves me money, plus I don’t want to be held down at the hotel waiting for my stuff. There are time-starved folks who might use this service, but it will be small.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

After 40 years of being on the corporate speaking circuit around the planet, this is about the dumbest idea I’ve seen in long time. As others have indicated, we should cut off this conversation right after Mark’s submission.

Come on — imagine a small hotel room filled with the smell of fried salmon, garlic, caramelized onion and who knows what else. Oh, and the smell from the outfit you’ll be wearing to that critical meeting in the morning will tell everyone what you cooked for dinner last evening.

Heck, I’d be glad for ordinary room service to arrive hot and cost less than a dinner for four in the restaurant.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Having already-prepared food delivered from some other company if room service is not available (or if it would welcome the competition) would be a good idea, but not sending food that I can cook in my room. Warming things in the microwave is enough cooking on the road.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

This is a very small opportunity — part of experiencing a place while traveling is enjoying the local food choices. I can’t imagine wanting to cook in my room (or smell the cooking of other guests wafting around the building)!

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

An interesting and creative idea that will have limited success. After trying this service a few times, I predict road warriors will stop using it. There are other options for on-the-road healthy eating if that is the goal.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I guess so … but not at scale. Of course, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated while out of town on a business trip because I couldn’t bake a torte in my room after a hard day. So, again, if you build a theme around the offer, or if you tie it in with another program like cooking classes and if you are dealing with families or extended stay vacationers … well maybe this could have legs. But for now, I’ll stick to room service.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

I think a “stock my fridge” service has potential for a certain traveling audience. I, for one, would appreciate having some fresh fruit, crudites and a cold beer on hand when I arrive. I highly doubt too many of us are interested in preparing meals in our hotel rooms.
Delivering microwavable dishes, however, might fly in some situations. For the true extended-stay guests — like consultants who live near a client site for days or weeks at a time, a grocery delivery service starts to make more sense. Positioning this as a healthier eating program might win some loyal users.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

While on business travel, I agree with many here that would never think about using these services to cook my own food. However, on vacation related extended stays, this would be a great service to take advantage of. I think this is an innovative approach, but only for a small percentage of users. Overall, it’s good to see hotels thinking outside the box for bringing added value to their guests. If I were choosing a vacation destination hotel and wanted to save money from eating at restaurants, I would certainly favor a location that offered a delivery service like this.

gordon arnold
Guest

This goes right up against the prepared food industry. For that reason the grocery industry will need to start focusing on quick reaction delivery, primarily from their delicatessen, pharmacy and bakery departments, as opposed to same day. You know what? It might be a good time to look into delivery as a part of LOHM/G&A. This will make it a corporate executive responsibility instead of an experiment with no company management takers.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"With the increase in Airbnb usage as an affordable choice, particularly for families, this could be a very good idea for online grocery deliveries."
"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated while out of town on business because I couldn’t bake a torte in my room after a hard day..."
"When I’m on a trip, I stop at a nice supermarket in the area before heading to a house or hotel."

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