In our last article, we told you how to perfect your hotel’s in-room dining service. If you have mastered your service, you should be ready to increase your room service revenues (and tips) up to 50 percent! In-room service, your team has an incredible opportunity to sell. Room service guests are typically not price sensitive and often want to splurge. Here are the secrets of selling and increasing your revenue:
Before we talk about suggestive selling, the first thing we have to talk about is how to ask the right questions. The most important thing to keep in mind is to never ask open-ended questions. When I call room service, the room service operator typically asks, ‘what can I get for you?’ or, ‘what would you like this evening?’ If you ask either of those questions, you have lost all opportunity to sell. At that point, you are only an order taker. Your questions have to be specific and lead the guest to buy.
The first question you should ask the guest is, ‘how many guests should I set the tray for?’ Almost nobody ever asks this question. They usually just guess based on the number of entrees ordered or just assume that the order is for one person. Without knowing how many guests the meal is for, you cannot set up the tray properly… but more importantly, you cannot sell correctly!
Once you know how many guests to prepare for, you can start selling. Selling is simple. It is about anticipating the guest’s needs and making recommendations to match.
The next question you ask is to take the guest’s appetizer order. With all of the questions that you will ask the guest, keep the following in mind:
- Order taking is asking, ‘what would you like this evening?’
- Selling is asking, ‘would you like to start with an appetizer this evening?’
- Suggestive selling is specifically asking, ‘would you like to start with an appetizer such as our fresh shrimp cocktail or our famous red hot buffalo wings?’
Order taking is what they do at McDonald’s. Selling will improve your results slightly. Suggestive selling will increase your revenues (and tips) up to 50 percent. Your guests will respond when you ask the right questions and make the right suggestions.
Once you have sold the guest on an appetizer, move on to the entrée. At this point, you should go over the day’s specials and offer help with any questions the guest may have. You can always make a suggestion or two. However, you typically do not have to steer a guest towards an entrée selection. They most likely have already decided on an entrée before calling. Even though you are not steering, you are still selling here… specifically, up-selling here! Have your up-sell items prepared in advance for every entrée. If the guest orders a burger, recommend adding bacon. If a salad or pasta is ordered, be sure to recommend adding shrimp or chicken. Be sure the up-sell options are programmed into the point of sale system as a reminder.
Now that you have the guest’s appetizer and entrée selections, you can match their choices with your beverage menu and sell them a drink from the bar. If the guest ordered a steak, recommend a great glass of wine. It works best if you recommend a mid-priced glass so they are not surprised by the check total when they see the bill. If you are preparing a meal for two, recommend a bottle. If the guest orders a more casual meal like a burger, recommend one of your specialty beers or a mixed drink.
Even if the guest is not interested in an alcoholic drink, you still have work to do. If they ask for a soda, sell them two (remember, there are no refills in-room service). If they ask for water, make sure you go over the choices of bottled water. You should have at least two types of water available in at least two sizes.
After the beverage order, you are ready to sell the dessert. The great thing about room service dessert is that the guest orders the dessert before they eat the meal. They do not know whether they will be too full for dessert yet and they are much easier to sell as desserts have a high appeal to many people. Therefore, you should sell at least twice as many desserts in-room service as you do in your restaurant. When asking the guest for the dessert order, go back to your suggestive selling and take the same approach as you did with the appetizer. Ask a specific question such as ‘would you like to include a slice of our chef’s cheesecake topped with raspberry and fresh whipped cream?’
If the guest orders a dessert, you can usually also sell them on a specialty coffee or dessert liquor. Again, just match the dessert with the beverage. Even if they said no to the cheesecake, make sure you offer specialty coffee.
Some other things to keep in mind when selling room service:
- Make sure you compliment the guest on their selection if the guest orders a great dish. Guests are nervous when ordering a dish, especially if it is expensive or unusual. Put their mind at ease by saying, ‘that is a great selection’ or, ‘the New York Strip is my favorite as well’.
- Make suggestions based on items that are your favorite dishes. Do not recommend a dish that you have not personally eaten. If you have not sampled every item on your menu, you should not be answering the phone!
- Use positive words to describe every dish. You do not just have a burger; you have a ‘terrific half-pound grade A burger cooked to perfection with your choice of toppings.’
- Do not forget about the basics: use the guest’s name, quote a delivery time, and show appreciation!
Click HERE to download our sample scoring form to train and test your room service team.
Very good article!
Good tips. I really like the part about asking the right question to lead the guest to order appetizers and desserts.
I did a training of your program and have been working it for about a month now. We are doing very well. My GM is very happy with the revenue increase.
One question. Our servers do not like to do the follow up call and think that it disturbs the guest. We have to do it according to our brand standard. Is there a better way to do it?
Kelly in LA,
Thank you for the question.
Conducting a room service call back is all about the tone that you use. You should be calling to offer service, not checking up. If you ask ‘how is your dinner so far?’ and ‘can I get you anything else at this time?’, you are offering a service instead of an interruption. I have had many room service operators call my room and I could tell that they are just calling to mark me off on their checklist.
If you are really struggling with the call backs, you can let the guest know when you deliver the food that you will be calling them in about 10 minutes to check on them and see if anything else is needed. Some will tell you not to call, some will welcome the call.
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This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.
question: under the Scoring Report, there in the first area for scoring, there are 11 questions at 2 points each yet the total is 20. is there something i am missing?
great info overall!
Hello Pete. The report is only a sample report so some questions have been removed or adjusted. We customize each report to each hotel’s specific service standards. That is the reason the scores may not match the total on the sample reports. If you need help putting a program together, please do not hesitate to contact us.
I represent a 5 star property in NYC and one of only 5 properties in north america to maintain of 5 star hotel $ restaurant (forbes)
I would love to hear some great suggestons
as well as give my feedback…
I am really your blog. at the moment I am working for five star hotel as a room service manager. I will have presentation for my working plan on 2012. can you give me idea what is the right promo for month by monththat fit for room service to increase the revenue.thanks
Thank you for this fantastic insight on ways to improve the revenue on room service for the hotel that I work at. I look forward to reading more positive ways to increase sales tips and ideas in the near future.
Thank you again
Hello very cool website!! Guy .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally…I’m happy to seek out numerous useful information here in the post, we need develop extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing.
Thank you very much for the Artical.It is Realy important for learners and also others.
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I AM RIGHT NOW WORKING IN ROOM SERVUCE I REALY LIKE YOUR SUGGESTION I WANT TO OPEN MY OWN RESTAURANT KINDLY GIVE SOME SUGGESTION TO IMPROVE MY RESTAURANT BUSSINESS.
I am presently working in a hotel. I will like to do some Room Service promotion to increase revenue. Any suggestion? Please advise. Thank you.
i want to increase room sales and room revenue of all the 3 hotels and one resort
i want to increase room service and restaurant sale
Thank for sharing new Room service selling technique
I realu like all the detailed info given. I trust it will work out well. My team members are already on with the above points mentioned but few points I need to follow up with them.
I like to ask your feedback and suggestion. I am thinking to have promotional sale for selected wines in room at 30% discounted price. 3 different range of price low/Med/high . 3 Red& 3 White.
Do you think it will help to increase the revenue. Our wine sell is bit low even though team is trying to upsell while taking an order by suggesting wine.