For decades, and actually right through to present day, hotels have sought to discourage people bringing “outside food” in. Sometimes it’s covert, sometimes it’s overt with signs and messages, but it’s always the same general sentiment.

Hotels want(ed) you to eat their food, order their room service and not come walking through the lobby waving product placement for the best local Thai or Italian food delivery service.

As hotels began to lose the battle against outside food, hotel food suddenly became generally much better and less overpriced in recent years Sure, there are exceptions, but the increasingly easy to order outside competition actually made hotels better.

Then, like many other things, the pandemic put a bit of a monkey wrench in things. Staff shortages are everywhere, ingredient costs are up, and balancing this trapeze act while trying to appease guests is proving difficult.

Now, many hotels are actually encouraging outside food, to head off losses from food and beverage.

Hotels Encourage Outside Food

According to Skift, GrubHub recently signed a deal with Resorts World Las Vegas.

At check in, all guests are told that GrubHub is the only way to get food, but that delivery can be ordered to the room, or poolside. The GrubHub app knows you’re at the hotel and has custom delivery options accordingly.

For the hotel, it’s a huge savings, not having to manage comp’d meals, produce costs and staffing concerns. The hotel can instead focus on the far more profitable sale of booze, via numerous bars and delivering a quality guest experience

GrubHub was recently purchased by JET, a Dutch company, and a flurry of new hotel partnerships are expected in the near future.

What A 180° For Hotels

Considering just under a year ago, the new Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas received negative press for its stern warnings against outside food and beverage, this rising hospitality trend is quite a departure for the industry.

It seems like hotels are throwing in the towel on food stations, unless they’re in properties which already find them as a huge profit source, or source of buzz.

Remote island getaways can pretty much set the price without outside competition, and some hotels endear themselves to the community by putting on the best buffet around. Obviously, it’s easy to profit on a successful buffet too.

I really can’t actually find a negative here.

With very limited exceptions, hotel food has rarely surpassed the quality found at private restaurants, particularly in a major city. A hotel could easily curate a custom “XYZ Hotel Recommends” list, which would give the staff a chance to highlight fantastic local restaurant options for guests to choose from.

In any major city, scrolling through hundreds of options is stressful at best, but if a hotel really sought to champion favorite places in the area, it would strengthen local ties, while also providing real value to guests.

Long gone (hopefully) are the days of old, which Anthony Bourdain put so eloquently. “If you want to know where to eat, ask the hotel concierge, and go anywhere else”.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Even more ironic considering that 99% of food isn’t meant to be delivered. The most popular items: pizza, tacos and burgers suffer significantly during the delivery time/process. Shameful that most don’t get to taste the food as it’s actually intended. And pay a significant upcharge for it lol.

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