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Global survey reveals what women want from business travel

An independent survey asked professional women from around the world what they really wanted from room service.  
 
Of the 100 women surveyed, 53% stated that they felt hotel room service was generally tailored towards men with menus of high carb, meaty dishes turning women off staying in to dine.  In fact 54% of respondents said that they rarely or never dine in their hotel rooms with only 4% of women always staying in.  Those ladies who dine alone in their hotel rooms often do so because they are nervous about venturing out of a hotel and into an unknown city alone.
 
When asked what dishes they would like to see on the room service menus, 43% of women said that they would like to see more appetising salad options and many would like to add lighter protein ingredients such as steamed fish and chicken.  Other popular suggestions were healthy soups, snacking plates, mezes and more adventurous vegetarian dishes.  The tone was overwhelmingly about lighter and healthier dishes.  Room service can deliver a significant revenue contribution to any hotel that gets the menu and the service just right.
 
Henrik Muehle, Managing Director of the St James Hotel and Club in London agrees that “All good hotels like to claim they are a ‘home from home’ for their guests, but fall down on this claim in their provision of room service, which is where the real test lies.  There are a few simple rules: speed, accuracy and quality of food and service; get these right and the orders will flow in freeing up your restaurant tables and encouraging guests who would otherwise go out to eat, to stay with you”.
 
Martin Wilks of Purple Sage the Hospitality Consultancy adds that “Room service is often the poor relation in a hotel's food and beverage operation.  Often dismissed as ‘nuisance value revenue’ and managed by more junior staff, room service frequently fails to live up to the guest expectation of a luxury dining experience in their bedroom.”
Gordon Jackson, General Manager of The Thorpe Park Hotel and Spa in Leeds says that "Room service tends to be an experience that’s either fantastic or terrible - and it’s usually determined by the menu choices on offer.  If you see an extensive menu on room service I’d avoid it - far better to choose from a limited but well-planned menu, as this generally means the hotel has thought about what works, how food travels, holds heat and looks appealing to the guest.   Some of our most popular dishes are Baked Beans on Toast and Caesar Salads, Daily Specials, and comfort foods - simple things, done really well and delivered with a smile."
 
Whether it’s breakfast or a light evening meal, too many hotels fail to deliver the quality of service and food that is provided (without question) in the restaurant downstairs in the same hotel.  In fact once certain hotel restaurants become busy, the first service to suffer is the room service operation, either due to pressure on the kitchen or inadequate staffing levels in the restaurant to deliver the food and drink.
When asked what hotels could do better to entice ladies to order room service, many respondents reiterated their preference for healthier options and smaller portions and for hot food to be delivered hot, not luke-warm.
 
High service and delivery charges and a lack of somewhere comfortable to be able to sit and dine whilst watching TV were some of the other reasons why women steered clear of room service.
 
A number of women stated that they would like to see room service delivered by female staff and that they would welcome a call from the kitchen to tell them that their food was on its way and to have their trays taken away promptly.  The option to collect your own food from the kitchen would also be appreciated.  Some ladies said that they would like to see additional information on the room service menus such as calorific and fat contents.
 
One of the hotels that understands the value of healthy room service is the Metropolitan in Bangkok.  Executive chef, Chris Miller said "we like to offer our guests the choice of healthy cuisine for in room dining.  Because we have Glow at The Met, we are able to draw from the menu with a selection of dishes that are included in the in-room directory and marked accordingly, so guests know the dishes they order are healthy options”.
 
Sample dishes that would suit the health conscious female traveller might include a wild rice, bean and seed salad with tahini tamari dressing followed by steamed fish of the day with fragrant shiitake mushroom broth or lentil and 7 grain burger with tomato salsa avocado and sprouts.
 
According to Wilks, “Many female guests who are frequent travellers also desire a ‘little taste of home’ in their bedroom, so for all the luxury menu items some simply prepared food can also deliver enormous guest satisfaction”.
 
Source: Maiden-voyage.com, the business travel network for professional women
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16 November 2011
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