Hotels are cutting down on room service, and not just at economy or limited-service establishments. Many properties have moved in the direction of phasing out this option, as it is not cost-effective to keep a full kitchen and wait staff on standby all the time. And in 2013, the New York Hilton Midtown discontinued food and drink service to all 2,000 of its rooms.
Enter: a New York-based startup called Butler Hospitality. It’s been dubbed ‘’the Uber of room service,’’ and makes it uber-easy for guests to get food at their doorstep. The process is simple. Butler Hospitality partners with hotels to provide these services, and guests place their orders via text message to the hotel concierge team. The food is delivered within 30 minutes, according to the startup’s website.
The founding duo, Tim Gjonbalic and Margurite Lynn, came up with the idea when they were attending St. Johns college and established the ‘’amenities delivery service’’ in fall of 2015. Upon joining his father’s restaurant group in New York City, Gjonbalic saw the growth opportunities in a hotel boom.
“After understanding the operational difficulties behind hotel F&B,” he says, “I saw opportunity: How do we serve guests from a central kitchen and reinvent traditional room service for the modern guest?” From there, he and Lynn used a traditional marketplace model to allow guests to order room service with ‘‘unheard-of ease.”
Butler Hospitality is a metric-centric model, currently providing food to both full and limited service properties. “We understood what the guest ultimately wanted and what was important,” Lynn says. “We built our product around quality, affordability, and speed. We unbundled the amenities and reinvented them for our guest today.”
This was not without challenges. “The hospitality industry has seen little innovation in the last century, since the Waldorf invented room service,” Gjonbalic says. “Today, more than ever, they are being forced to evolve and cater to guests’ needs and, most importantly, their experience.”
Apart from delivering food, the team also keeps notes in their system. So if a guest mentions a gluten sensitivity, the service makes a record of this specification and next time that person orders from them, irrespective of where they are staying, this information is automatically retrieved.
The startup is currently focused in Manhattan, and Butler Hospitality is already serving an impressive list of hotels including Aloft, Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, and Hampton Inn in New York City, offering gourmet menu options from classic signatures to unique creations. Delivery is available all day, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are also launching soon in the Financial District, Chelsea, and Times Square South. Along with this, they are also exploring partnerships with alternative accommodations.
The hospitality industry has seen little innovation in the last century since the Waldorf invented room service.
To ensure that they are not limited to just F&B, the company recently changed its name from “Plate Genius” to “Butler Hospitality” to present themselves as representing personalization and travel as a whole. “We strive to deliver an experience beyond a room with a bed,” is the mantra the team follows.
And it’s working. “Our hotel partners are now seeing increased stars on their booking.com profile due to the added amenities,” Gjonbalic says. “It is also very interesting how hotels have opened up and welcomed us in. We have become an extension of the hotel.”
By Dhwani Pathak Dave