This past month, the New York Hilton announced that it would be eliminating room service because of increasing costs in the face of wavering demand. It was a move that left hundreds of patrons confused and starving in their rooms, and the country in a state of shock.
Just kidding. They pretty much all ordered in.
Actually, the Hilton isn’t alone. This is a trend that’s gradually swept across the country as hotels that have never concerned themselves with the more luxurious aspects of traveling (bath salts?) have realized that room service does not lend itself well to making strong profits.
Think about it. It’s a labor-intensive service, which means hotels pay big buckos. It also has a very limited target market; the exorbitant prices are meant to drain the wallets of the wealthy and willing, not the average family of four on vacation or the businessman who flies across the country three times a month. High variable costs, low demand. It doesn’t take an econ major (me!) to tell you this isn’t a sustainable business model and explain how most hotels can so easily say, “Forget it.”
Besides ordering in, the only other option is a table for one. I’m going to make a huge assumption here and state that most people don’t want to dine alone. Unless that waiter is really, darn cute, it’s just not worth it to me. It’s boring. Frankly, multi-tasking over Chinese is easily preferable to trying to catch the waiter’s attention, getting lost trying to get back to the hotel, and then chugging through the night’s work.
I find this all so intriguing because it’s not just an obvious solution–it was a solution far before the problem–far before the Hilton eliminated room service. Ordering in means I get what I want, when I want it, delivered to the hotel lobby. It means I can keep watching The West Wing or get tomorrow’s work done. It means I save money. It means I am under no circumstances sitting alone in a restaurant trying to telepathically let everyone else know I do in fact have friends, I’m just here on work. So why didn’t I think of this before?
Luxury hotels will persevere and keep their room service. I’m pretty sure if you spent the night the Waldorf, a seven course meal could come to do your door with no questions asked. (Except, “And will that be credit?) But they attract a different, I-don’t-want-to-say-wealthier-but-that’s-what-I-mean audience. Their demand for room service is higher, even if their costs aren’t lower when compared to the Hilton.
So, ya know, good for them. I will still be ordering in next time I travel. I’m thinking burgers…
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