Skift Take

Launching something like on-demand grocery delivery service makes a lot of sense, but given what happened with Hilton's meal kit delivery service experiment, it'll be interesting to see how well Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham's pilot progresses.

Arguably, one of the biggest perks of staying in an extended stay hotel is the use of a kitchen, and enterprising brands within the space are looking for innovative ways to help guests take advantage of this unique amenity.

One of those brands includes Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. Last year, the brand launched a “Homemade @ Hawthorn” program that features a collection of chef-designed recipes for guests to use during their stay.

And at the end of April, the company has made it that much easier for guests to cook those recipes by partnering with Peapod and Instacart to facilitate on-demand grocery delivery services for guests. Currently, the program is in pilot at eight hotels throughout the U.S., in locations that include Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina.

Larry Hambro, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham’s vice president of brand operations, said the company decided to pilot this program primarily because more and more American households are choosing to have their groceries delivered out of convenience.

“If I know that one in four households is currently ordering groceries online in some fashion, and one in 10 Gen Xers or Millennial folks is ordering online, and there’s an uptick of 160 percent in online ordering of groceries since 2014, I have to get out in front of that curve,” Hambro said. “If I know my traveling public is ordering groceries online at home, it only makes sense that I provide that same service when I’m traveling for work or for an extended period of time.” He noted that in 2016, Americans spent an estimated $42 billion in online grocery delivery.

He added that another reason why Hawthorn decided to launch this program was motivated by the fact that “Forty-five percent of all business travelers choose extended stay properties because they want access to a kitchen, and 66 percent of Americans, and 84 percent of Millennials, say cooking for themselves in their hotel room would make them more comfortable in a long-term stay hotel. It’s just a natural fit to have recipes and to have the ingredients made available through a delivery mechanism.”

Offering on-demand grocery delivery is also something Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky noted as a possible additional service to be added to the Airbnb stay experience.

Hambro also said Wyndham wanted to partner with Peapod and Instacart because “they’re tops as far as online grocery delivery services and they give guests easy access to the ingredients.”

At the hotels where the grocery delivery service is being tested out, guests can simply log onto the hotel’s website and from there they can easily order from either Peapod or Instacart (the provider depends on the specific location). Clicking on a link from the hotel homepage takes them to an external page for the grocery delivery service where they can find the specific ingredients needed to prepare the Homemade @ Hawthorn recipes, or just order whatever else they want to order.

“It gives them access to everything — not just recipes from Homemade @ Hawthorn and anything they want to enjoy from their standard routine at home,” said Hambro.

Hilton’s Experiment with Meal Kit Delivery Service

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham isn’t the only extended-stay player looking to add more on-demand services related to food. Last year, Homewood Suites by Hilton ran a pilot program in Atlanta and Dallas with a local meal kit delivery service called PeachDish.

That pilot program, which ran from March to June at 22 different properties, ended, and Homewood Suites by Hilton decided not to proceed further with it going forward.

Bill Duncan, global head of All Suites brands for Hilton, said, “While well received as an industry-first program, given the new and exciting direction of our first ever All Suites by Hilton campaign, ‘Bring It,’ we decided to focus on offerings that could be delivered consistently across all three brands; something not possible given PeachDish’s delivery coverage and differing in-suite kitchen facilities.”

He added that Hilton’s All Suites brands are focusing on improving the dining experiences at their properties.

“Food and beverage is a vital part of the amenities offering for our All Suites hotels. For instance, 80 percent of our guests at Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, and Home2 Suites by Hilton join us every day for complimentary breakfast,” said Duncan. “Appropriately, evolving and innovating in this area is a consistent focus, responding to guests’ desire for casual, inviting spaces to eat and the embrace of larger food trends too. This has ranged from an investment in the physical dining spaces, such as Embassy Suites’ atrium refresh initiative which will be seen at 60 percent of our hotels, to the ongoing review of Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites breakfast offerings, which is the second most significant factor in why guests choose our hotels.”

Hambro, for one, and not surprisingly, thinks Hawthorn Suites’ approach to grocery delivery service gives guests more flexibility in what they want to order for their stay.

“The program we’re running right now is giving guests the option and convenience to broaden and improve upon the convenience of the stay of a hotel,” he said. “This service is also far more expansive so you can have any grocery item available in a grocery store, without having to know the area of the market you’re staying in.”

Hawthorn will be running the pilot through the end of the summer and will re-evaluate it by the end of the summer. Hambro said feedback from participating hotels so far “has been tremendous.”

“This is just the next logical phase in providing convenience and maintaining a sort of regimen or routine for our extended stay guests,” Hambro noted. “Being able to maintain a routine for a family or for an individual guest is critical for wellness and health and you’ll start to see the brand move in that direction more so for convenience, wellness, and customer needs.”

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Tags: hilton, homewood suites, wyndham

Photo credit: One of the recipes developed by chef Hari Nayak for Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. Guests staying at certain properties in the U.S. can now order ingredients for these recipes, as well as other grocery items, through Peapod or Instacart as part of a new pilot program. Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham

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