Omnichannel has come to hotels.
I was traveling for client work this week and, as is usually the case, found myself in a lovely hotel, late at night and hungry. When I got to my room and started hunting around for the room service menu, I noticed a promotional piece on the night table which caught my attention.
It was an offer for me to download an app - which I could do easily by scanning the barcode on the piece. The app would allow me to place an order anytime during the day for a variety of salads and pizzas from one of the restaurants on the premises. Orders are picked up at a designated place at the hotel between 5 PM and 9 PM. The app allows the food charges to be placed to the room or to a card on file.
Omnichannel comes to hotels!
First, it provides the hotel guest with another food option and experience. Many guests don’t like to order room service, given all of the extra service charges that turn a $12 dollar bowl of cereal, side of berries and coffee into a $32 breakfast charge, so skip it - opting to grab breakfast on the road or at the local Starbucks or coffee shop.
Others who are traveling alone just don’t like eating alone in the hotel restaurants, so instead pick up something while they're out and about, maybe even bringing it back to the room to eat.
In both cases, the hotel loses out on the opportunity to get additional - high margin - revenue while using their own kitchen facilities and staff at a low incremental cost.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, as this app and omnichannel experience shows.
In addition to the clever way that it was promoted – in the room on a door hanger type of promotion with a QR code that took me to the app – was the fact that the omnichannel use case that the hotel, in this case, The Westin, is food - and in particular, dinner.
Food and food services has been an early adopter of the omnichannel trend, as food services establishments looked for ways to add value to consumers – for instance, not having to wait in line. It's been mostly focused on fast food experiences.
What I found interesting about the Westin experience is that its choice of fare was mostly light – salads, pizza – the kind of stuff that's easy to both prepare, package and carry out. But perhaps most intriguing is that the "pick up place" is right next to a lovely dessert buffet that tempts these omnichannel diners to pick up a brownie or slice of cheesecake as they pick up their fully paid for dinner and have the dessert added to their tab.
The whole experience is designed to be easy and without friction.
And, as is usual, I didn’t stay long enough at the hotel to actually give it a try. But had I been there another day, I would have surely done so. And if I ever go back to that hotel and know that I am arriving between 5 and 9 on an empty stomach, I have an app that I can use to place my order and pick it up after I have checked in and on my way up to my room.
Skipping the dessert, of course ....
Until next time,