Room Service Delivery Done Right!

Does your hotel’s room service delivery program operate like this? The room service delivery person throws some lukewarm food on a tray and covers it with saran wrap, tosses it on a cart, and dashes up to the guest room. He knocks on the door, darts in, and tosses the tray on the desk. He asks the guest to sign the guest check which includes the food at a 10 percent premium over the restaurant price, a $4 delivery charge, and an automatic 20 percent gratuity. He then tells the guest to just leave the tray out in the hall for a day or two and someone will pick it up. Enjoy your meal!

It is no wonder why Room Service is often one of the lowest scores on hotel comment cards and one of the lowest areas we see during our hotel inspections.

Here are some tips for doing it right:

1. Deliver within the quoted time or the meal is free. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a meal. Guests schedule their night around their meal. They typically order food to arrive before their favorite television show starts or when they can take a break from work. Do not be late! If you are, apologize, and offer to pay for the meal. Breakfast should be delivered within 20 minutes and lunch and dinner within 40.

2. Remember the tray set up basics. Every order should include a glass of ice water or bottled water. All entrees other than sandwiches should come with a bread basket and butter. All trays should be preset with a rollup, salt & pepper, and a flower.

3. Have photos in your room service area of what a properly set up tray should look like for each item on your menu. Spot check to make sure the trays look just like the photographs.

4. Use a hot box or the pellet system to keep hot food hot on the way to the room.

5. Remove all saran wrap before knocking on the guest door. A guest should never see saran wrap.

6. Once inside the room, present the food to the guest by removing each lid and describing the item. Take any extra lids with you when you leave. Make sure the food is stacked on the tray in the order a guest would eat it, appetizer on top and entrée on the bottom.

7. Pour the beverages for the guest inside the room, not before. Whether it is a soda, mixed drink, or glass of wine, nothing should be in the glass before entering the room. Bring ice in a separate ice bucket with a small ice scooper for sodas and mixed drinks. Bring a fresh bottle of wine and pour a glass. Offer to leave the bottle and just add the price to the check.

8. Tell the guest how to have the tray removed. Whether you want them to call or just place it outside the room, they need to know. Be sure to have the trays removed immediately.

9. Tell the guest that the gratuity is already included when presenting the check. Getting a double tip is great for the room service server but very bad for your guest satisfaction.

10. Complete the guest call back. The guest should be called during their meal to check on the food quality. You wouldn’t serve them in the restaurant and then never check on the food quality, right? It gives you the opportunity to fix and mistakes as well as offer another drink or a desert. If you are afraid of disturbing the guest during the meal, let them know when you deliver the food that someone will call to check on the meal. Then they have the option of answering or not answering the call.

Once you get these improvements in place, the hard part is monitoring them. Room service servers will always resort back to taking whatever shortcuts they can get away with and still get tips. Have each of your managers get rooms under fake names and order a meal once every month. Have them submit a score sheet to the Director of Food and Beverage. Room service is typically one of the lowest scoring areas of our hotel inspections when we inspect new clients. Every Director of Food and Beverage is shocked and can’t believe what the room service servers really do.

Work hard and master these techniques. Then check out this article on how to increase your room service revenues by 50 percent!

9 thoughts on “Room Service Delivery Done Right!

  1. Dear Sir/ Madam,

    These tips are excellent. I know need some ideas on things to do in the room which would wow the guests and cut back on some of the complaints.

  2. Pingback: Five Diamond Hospitality » Blog Archive » Ask Five Diamond: Improving In Room Dining

  3. Thanks a million, still there is room for improvement after reading this article.

  4. sir,
    please tell me how to inrease sale specifically of beverage of in room dining


  5. Hi Srinivas. Thanks for the question. The real key to increasing beverages sales in room service is simple, just ask. Most guests who order in room dining are not price sensitive. You would be surprised how many glasses of wine you can move just by offering a great glass to go along with the steak the analyst ordered. We ALWAYS suggest a drink from the bar with dinner orders. Another way to increase sales is to have a couple of varieties of bottled water available so you have a better opportunity to sell bottled water when the guest asks for water. For breakfast, most guests will automatically order coffee. Be sure to offer a glass of juice or a fruit smoothie. Fruit smoothies are easy to sell and an item that no one ever thinks to order.

  6. dear sir,

    what is the most challenging question to make the guest yes for that? because mostly guest prepared with their order what meal they required.

  7. I need to disagree with one thing you’ve written. 5. Remove all saran wrap before knocking on the guest door. A guest should never see saran wrap.

    While this may seem like a great idea, it may actually cause the guest some issues wondering why their food is not covered, especially when it’s traveling a distance to their room.

  8. Hi Will. Thanks for the feedback. You are right, we didn’t full explain the saran wrap section. When we advise that the servers remove the saran wrap before knocking, that is assuming that your hotel has tray set up requirements similar to Marriott (there is a cover on everything, a small ice bucket for the drinks, and the bread basket is wrapped in a cloth napkin). In that case, saran wrap is only used to keep items hot and should be removed. If your hotel does not fully cover everything, we use the service standard like Hilton where the saran wrap must be removed before leaving the room, rather than arriving at the room. I hope you are finding the rest of our information very helpful. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

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