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Hotels respond to weak food and drink sales

August 18, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • Hotel guests reported being more satisfied with their stays this year than they did last year, according to a new survey. Above, the Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Hotel guests reported being more satisfied with their stays this year than… (Luxe City Center )

Penny-pinching travelers are spending less on food and drinks, and some hotels are responding by putting an end to traditional room service. Others are working harder to entice their guests’ taste buds.

New York Hilton Midtown, the biggest hotel in New York City (it has nearly 2,000 rooms), announced plans to eliminate room service starting this summer. In its place, the hotel will offer a cafeteria-type restaurant where guests can grab quick meals like pizza and sandwiches.

“Hotels are thinking of retooling to make the food offerings more limited,” said Bruce Baltin, senior vice president at hospitality consulting firm PKF Consulting.

Spending reports show that room rates have been edging up in the past year and are on track in 2013 to eclipse pre-recession prices. But spending on food, drinks and other hotel extras has not kept pace.

A new PKF report showed that room revenue from 2011 to 2012 increased by 6.3% while income from food, drinks and other hotel services edged up only 2.3%.

In Southern California, several hotels are responding by offering new choices to get guests to spend.

At the Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, plans are in the works to offer guests quick on-the-go drinks and meals, like steel-cut oats for breakfast, before the end of the year.

“Since people are on the move all the time, that is where those quick grab-and-go options work,” said General Manager Tom Xavier.

He said the hotel is also considering including in its regular room service menu many of the same signature dishes served at the new lobby restaurant.

“We are still playing with what we want to do with room service.”

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