Creating a room service menu with mobile Order & Pay

Boosting your room service menu with mobile Order & Pay

The new way to create a hotel room service menu is with a QR code mobile menu. This page will outline why mobile ordering systems are becoming widespread among hotels in the UK, and explain how you can get started.

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What is a mobile room service menu? The case for using them – explained

It’s high time the room service menu changed.

For a lot of hotels, a room service menu is a loss leader. The main challenge is the need for dedicated staff, combined with low order volumes in return. It might feel like scrapping room service is the answer – but 66% of travellers order room service at least occasionally, according to iSeatz, so it’s still an important part of the guest experience.

A solution to the issues involved in offering room service could be an order and pay system. An order and pay system is a digital menu that guests can access, order items, and make payments on from their own devices. It can take the form of a QR code menu, like StoreKit Order & Pay, or it might be a downloadable app (though we recommend against using these – we’ll explain why further down).

You might be more familiar with the use of order and pay systems in pubs and bars. This article explains how an order and pay system can also be used effectively as a room service menu; it can also be used in hotel bars, restaurants, outside spaces, and even cruise ships. We also explain what to look out for when choosing an order and pay system.

As we’ve learnt more about the results of setting up order and pay systems, we’ve found that they can boost customer spending, improve operational efficiencies, and turn new spaces into economic ones.

StoreKit Order & Pay may be the best choice for you, but you can also find our list of top table ordering apps here. You can also check out our page on EPOS for hotels if you’re looking for an overview of the relevant point of sale.

Why use an order & pay system for your room service menu?

This is the practical choice – calling room service is terrible

People prefer digital menus – especially tourists 

55% of Brits prefer texting over calling, and this figure is 72% for people under 40. It’s also especially true of foreign tourists who can be too embarrassed to attempt English over the phone where they would happily browse and order from a picture menu – especially one they can view in their preferred language. 

Accuracy & Reliability 

Mobile ordering is also a more practical and efficient information exchange. Over the phone, you’re at the mercy of hearing – “number 13, that’s one-three, no, not 30” – and if an order entry system isn’t available, handwriting. Guests ordering directly from the room service menu reduces such mistakes.

Availability

Finally, all of this assumes staff are even able to pick up the phone. If the front desk is busy dealing with other guests, a guest may need to call more than once to order. But the moment has probably passed – the order is lost forever. This is more than annoying: it’s bad for business. It also means you can communicate very clearly about which items are available when and to which rooms. If an item is not available, it isn’t there. And if room service is closed, you can say so. 

The experience of your hotel, improved

For most people, staying at a hotel is an experience. It’s not something you do every day, and digital menus can help to make it even more special.

Here’s how – it’s easy to imagine hotel guests scrolling through your room service menu on their phone. The images on the menu all look so inviting. They’re lying on a hotel bed, with its soft pillows and perfectly smooth sheets, and window-shopping your menu is effortless. Life is good. Why not make it even better – maybe with some champagne? “Oh, why not?” – press order, and voilà, a bottle arrives minutes later. 

The crucial fact is not that they enjoyed the menu, although that helps. Rather, the fact that it’s so easy to order communicates something: you’re meant to do it. Room service is in decline, and has dropped by as much as 80% in some hotels over the last decade. It’s old-fashioned – perhaps because it feels very decadent. But going digital makes ordering from a room service menu feel more casual and accessible.

Some digital menus are better than others though. Don’t ask guests to download apps or create accounts. Guests will be willing to scan a QR code, but they aren’t going to want to download an app that will only take up phone space. Digital menus turn casual scrolling into orders, but you don’t want to stop guests from getting to the menu in the first place. Most guests will log onto the Wi-Fi, so you could also automatically redirect them to a homepage with the room service menu. That way, you’re making it as easy as possible for guests to browse your room service menu and order.

Make room service a money-spinner 

With room service transformed from a cumbersome and inaccurate experience to something more leisurely, you can expect to see more orders. But they will be bigger orders, too. A room service menu offering customisation options – “add olives for £3?” – will sell more and boost guest satisfaction.

Another reason digital menus boost orders is that a guest might conceivably be embarrassed to put a decadent order through to their room – especially if you have to spell it out over the phone. People just feel less “seen” with digital ordering.

Hospitality as your focus

Order & pay systems help to save staff labour. Receptionists wouldn’t need to take room service orders. It also prevents manual errors in inputting orders into a system, if customers are directly ordering from their online room service menu.

In smaller inns and bed and breakfasts, this could mean one less thing for staff to worry about. In larger hotels, you might choose to hire fewer staff members anew. Or the time previously spent taking calls, orders, and payments can be used to elevate the guests’ experience instead. Reception staff can focus more on in-person interactions with guests without a phone ringing constantly.

An order & pay system paves the way for hospitality to truly become the focus of your business.

Using an order & pay system outside of your room service menu

Keep sunbathers sunbathing

Order & pay systems can be used outside of your room service menu as well. For example, poolside sunbathers.

Without mobile ordering, sunbathers would need to haul themselves out of their chairs, find a bar, and maybe queue to get a drink. When guests can’t reserve seats, they may not want to leave their seats for fear of losing them to other guests, so they may end up not going to the bar. Alternatively, there may be waiters – but it can be annoying to have to flag a waiter down twice to ask for a menu and then to order. This can stop sunbathers from relaxing and ordering.

Expand economic spaces

Order & pay systems can work for accommodation venues of any size – hotels, inns, B&Bs, or cruises – but they can have extra benefits for bigger sites. If your hotel has large spaces like terrace areas or green spaces, it might not be practical to place a human waiter in every part. But a digital menu will let you provide your guests with refreshments wherever they are. 

Order & pay systems can transform extra spaces into economic spaces. Customers won’t have to leave their seats to find a bar and queue – they can relax, knowing their drinks will be brought to them. It makes looking after guests much easier when staff can’t be around all the time.

Hotel bars and restaurants

You can use order & pay systems in your hotel bar or restaurant as well. For bars, order & pay systems can get rid of queues. Not having to queue can improve a guest’s experience, and it can also stop them from turning away.

In both bars and restaurants, ordering from staff can cause pressure. Instead, choosing orders in a digital menu can take pressure away from guests, and it can help them decide what they want at their own pace. This also means waiters no longer need to take orders or payments, freeing them up to focus on being hospitable. They can check in on how guests are finding their food or recommend drinks and dishes. Order & pay systems can elevate a guest’s experience at a hotel bar or restaurant.

We explain this in more detail in articles on Order & Pay for restaurants and Order & Pay for pubs and bars, if you want to take a look.

Keep menus updated and exciting in cruise ships

A big difference between cruises and hotels is the length of stay. Guests stay on cruises much longer than they stay at hotels. Dishes change daily, and updating a digital menu is much easier than transporting masses of paper menus. Menus also wouldn’t need to be handed out, saving staff labour. 

But practicalities aside, meals and drinks are an important part of cruises, and a digital menu can help keep guests excited about them across longer stays. Compared to paper menus, digital menus can feature images without being seen as tacky. High-quality pictures can be enticing and can keep guests enthusiastic about the offerings. For instance, an image of a cool sweating glass cradling a vibrantly coloured cocktail may be just what a guest needs to push order.

A customisable order & pay system will also let you easily tailor your digital menu to various events such as themed nights or happy hours. Keeping the menus changing, interesting, and easily accessible can encourage spending. Make sure you can adjust the menu’s colour scheme and that you can add and update descriptions.

Choosing the best order & pay system for your room service menu and beyond

StoreKit sells an order & pay system, StoreKit Order & Pay, so yes, we’re partisan here. But whether you choose StoreKit or another table ordering app, here’s some things to think about. 

The easier to use the better

In general, guests will choose the easiest way of ordering, so pick a system that is quick and simple to use. Otherwise, they may end up not using your menu at all, especially your room service menu.

This should rule apps and account creations out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking these will help to foster loyalty, but most customers won’t want to download an app or sign up. StoreKit Order & Pay, for instance, requires neither. Customers only need to scan a QR code – it’s quick and easy to use. But as a “progressive web app”, it also keeps the best features of an app, such as push notifications when an order is ready.

Let the digital menu add to the experience

An order & pay system should be easy to use. But a hotel visit is an experience – and usually an expensive one at that – so the menu should play a part in taking a guest’s stay from good to amazing. 

Aside from being simple to use, your digital menu should also be expressive of your hotel. Select an order & pay system that has a customisable front end. For instance, you should be able to add descriptions and images to accurately communicate what food and drinks you offer. Photos can increase the sale of a menu item by 30%, according to Grubhub – and here at StoreKit, we’ve also seen that menus with images for individual items drive more sales.

StoreKit’s Order & Pay also has a “dark mode” for nighttime venues. You can use this to make a “classy” menu that might be more suitable, depending on your hotel’s atmosphere.

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