Grocery delivery and hotels may on first glance seem like a set of strange bedfellows. But Wyndham Suites doesn’t think so.
Hotels make millions per year on consumers who find themselves away from their kitchens for a week or two in meals eaten in hotel restaurants and the magic of room service.
The entire premise of the classic hotel room honor bar is that while the average person under average conditions would not even consider paying $6 for a Snickers bar or $8 for a bag of peanuts – still, at 2 A.M. in a hotel room in a city one does not know well, almost any price will seem like a reasonable price for a snack if the customer happens to be hungry.
It would that giving the customer the ability to order all the Snickers a human being can eat via Instacart or Peapod and have them delivered to their room would not be in any hoteliers best interest.
But Wyndham hotels has a somewhat different perspective – particularly when it comes to the needs of longer-term guest traveling for business and likely looking for home away from home experience that is … well, a little more homey. And so Wyndham is currently piloting a new program and at eight Hawthorn Suites hotels that will see it teaming up with Instacart and Peapod to bring groceries straight to their guests’ doors. The pilot is currently underway in locations in and around Chicago, Ill.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Orlando, Fla.
According to Larry Hambro, vice president, brand operations, Hawthorn Suites, consumers’ lives are increasingly oriented around having what they want available to them at the tap of their phone – and that there is not reason for that to change just because a guest is traveling.
“We know convenience is king for long-term travelers staying in new cities for weeks or months at a time, and that those guests also are very much looking to experience the normalcy in their lives he are used to.”
Normalcy, Hambro noted – means being able to keep track of the regular routines, and structuring their diet around their actual needs. Consumers like eating out – and for people on vacation, replacing kitchen-based cooking with room service as a lot of appeal. And the reality, he notes – is that many guests are going to continue to choose that experience.
But that experience doesn’t work for every guest – and if Hawthorn Suites also has the power to deliver a different tailored experience – they should.
“Our grocery delivery pilot makes is possible to give guests the power of selection combined with the convenience of online shopping and curated dishes. We get everything delivered these days straight from our computers and phones, from car rides to shaving kit subscriptions to groceries – so why shouldn’t we also get them when we’re traveling for extended periods?”
The grocery delivery service is paired with a content push: Homemade @ Hawthorn, which gives guests recipes and cooking instructions for seasonal dishes with recipes from award-winning chefs, that can be prepared in their in-suite kitchens.
The partnership with Peapod and Instacard is meant to serve as an extension of that program. Guests can add recipe items to their grocery delivery list – along with other favorite foodstuffs – and be ready to start prepping home-cooked food in-room.
Will the program take-off?
For leisure travelers, looking to get away from it all, it is not clear that access to the wonders of grocery or home cooking will be a major seller. But for customer on longer jaunts – particularly business travelers – there is some data to suggest offering in room grocery and meal prep suggestions might have some solid traction. According to an in-house survey by Hawthorne Suites. 84 percent of millennials noted hat the ability to easily prepare a meal in heir room would make them feel at home while traveling; data from Nielsen also indicates that Americans prefer eating home-cooking at least 4 nights a week.
So, at least at some hotels, the days of the $6 midnight Snickers might be coming to an end – replaced by that evening’s leftovers, perhaps?