Supermarkets and hotels, a natural pair

October 31, 2013

Deliver food to hotel guests, serve new customers, and fill a necessary niche.

Retailers’ end game for food and non-food delivery is clearly to homes.

Yet supermarkets nationwide could help fill a vacuum today by delivering to hotel patrons within their trading areas.

This opportunity exists for several reasons:  First, room service and minibar prices are sky-high, and menu choices dwindle after the main dinner hour.  Second, hotels like this partnership because they typically lose money on food-and-beverage operations.  Noting that hotels want to outsource food-beverage, Travel Weekly cites PKF Hospitality Research data showing that food-beverage sales contribute just 27% of revenue at full-service hotels, down from 38% in 1980.

The Lempert Report sees many kinds of hotel guests who could use supermarket delivery of fresh, hot, prepared foods or assembled meal components.  Among them, business travelers who are tired at the end of their long travel and workdays—and who prefer to relax and recharge for an early start the next morning.  Also, road warriors who continue to work into the night, in their hotel rooms, and who simply want decent food without pretense, hassle or undue expense.

Such a delivery service could take on a larger scale, and be especially suitable to hotel rooms with kitchenettes, including extended-stay facilities.  This could broaden the appeal to vacationing families staying at one destination for multiple nights, such as Orlando.  In this case, meal planning would become part of the trip—and eating in the room could help kids wind down sooner after a day at the park.

To TLR, the appeal isn’t just the food—it’s the convenience with which the food fits into travelers’ time constraints and limited budgets.

Grocery delivery service is available, for instance, at more than 600 Marriott Residence Inn properties across the United States.

Also, the five boutique Affinia Hotels in New York City have many rooms with kitchens or kitchenettes, plus separate dining areas and patios.  The chain allows FreshDirect to deliver ready-to-make meals.  Speaking of guests, Lisa Zandee, senior vice president of brand management for Affinia, said the delivery service “liberates them from the limitations of room service, minibar and restaurant fare.”