Expect more attempts by tech companies to become outsourced vendors for hospitality companies. Resorts want to manage their labor costs tightly during the pandemic.
Grubhub is making a fresh attempt to become an outsourced vendor that operates room service for resorts and hotels. The Chicago-based food delivery service found a client in Resort World Las Vegas, a newly opened $4.3 billion property.
Rather than run room service, Resorts World Las Vegas hired Grubhub to offer delivery to rooms and dedicated areas, such as at one of its swimming pools, from more than 30 food providers.
“We provide a cost reduction for hotels because we allow our partners to be smarter about labor,” said Brian Madigan, vice president of campus and corporate partners. “We reduce the roles you need to fill, like order taker, cook, cashier, and order runner. You can re-focus your hiring on whatever critical production jobs you might have, like, say, a bartender.”
When a guest checks in, the staff tells them that the only way to order room service or have on-site pick-up service is through the Grubhub app’s “on the fly” service.
Grubhub’s Second Try
This isn’t the first time Grubhub has attempted to tackle the travel sector as a service provider. A few years ago it signed a flurry of deals. Hyatt Hotels’ Hyatt Centric brand piloted a meal delivery program at a few U.S. properties. InterContinental Hotels Group let members of its loyalty program earn points for ordering food on Grubhub.
“A few years back, we formed a handful of strategic marketing partnerships with travel and hotel companies to drive guests to the Grubhub Marketplace and elevate their travel and leisure experience, including some you mentioned,” said a spokesperson.
“We acquired Tapingo in 2018, which strengthened our product offering for the travel and hospitality segment, including developing bespoke ordering technology within resorts or other closed ecosystems,” the spokesperson said.
Tapingo was a startup that developed software and processes for delivering food on school campuses and resorts via mobile orders. Back in 2018, Tapingo served about 150 campuses in the U.S., and Grubhub now uses the technology at about 260 college campuses.
App Knows You’re on the Property
At Resorts World Las Vegas, the Grubhub app senses the guest’s location on the property. A special window prompts them to choose if they want room or poolside service.
A guest can order room service through the app — where they can track the progress of the order. The app gives a guest an option to charge an order to their room bill.
For poolside service, guests can pick up deliveries from food lockers. A guest opens their assigned locker to fetch an order, using a touchless QR code or punching in a number code. Apex, a supply chain vendor, installed the lockers.
Are Ghost Kitchens for Hotels Next for Grubhub?
Right now, Grubhub only works with U.S. resorts. But in June, Amsterdam-based JET (Just Eat Takeaway.com) acquired Grubhub. So an international expansion of the offer is likely.
An intriguing next possible step for Grubhub in the U.S. is to enter the “ghost kitchens for hotels” market, where outside vendors handle the food preparation for hotels and take advantage of centralization and scale. (For context, see: “Hotels Hope Profits Are Cooking in the Ghost Kitchen Business.”)
Grubhub has for years worked with virtual concepts, including delivery-only brands. What would be new is if it matched a virtual restaurant brand with a hotel.
Coincidentally, Grubhub has begun testing a partnership with ghost kitchen service C(3), which has developed a virtual restaurant brand called Radical Rooster’s Chicken. The brand’s fried chicken will be available exclusively via Grubhub in 25 markets in the U.S. — but not in Las Vegas, apparently — later this fall.
Some hotels may find a Grubhub partnership easier than others. Not every guest will want to download an app and set up an account.
The Grubhub partnership fits in with the branding at Resorts World Las Vegas, owned by Malaysian industrial conglomerate Genting. The Hilton-branded property styles itself as Sin City’s most technologically advanced resort. The property has rolled out a convenience store for guests in recent weeks powered by Amazon’s “just walk out” technology. The resort also has introduced in its lobby a few robot dogs from Sony to greet guests.
UPDATE: We’ve updated the article to clarify that the InterContinental Hotels Group promotion with Grubhub is ongoing.
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Photo credit: A view of Resort World Las Vegas. Grubhub, a Chicago-based delivery service, wants to be an outsourced vendor that runs room service for larger hotels, such as Resorts World Las Vegas. Genting