Pilot Program Brings Groceries to Hotel Door

PARSIPPANY, NJ—There’s nothing like the pleasures and nourishment of a home-cooked meal. It can evoke positive feelings of warmth and stability after long days on the road. For business travelers, extended-stay hotels like Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham are their second homes, so to speak, and that’s where many of their meals are made.

In an effort to provide value and convenience to guests, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham launched a pilot program with grocery delivery companies Peapod and Instacart to bring the supermarket to the hotel room.

“It’s really about the traveler out there on the road. They’re saying, ‘Hey, it’s not just business; this is my life,'” said Kirk Hart, VP of brand operations for Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Wyndham Hotel Group. “Hotels got it right initially by providing in-room service. Extended-stay guests—visiting nurses, salespeople, people relocating—are the stars of our business, and when traveling for a long stretch of time, they want to get the food that keeps them on their routine. You might see a hotel with a market, but are those snacks familiar to you? At Hawthorn, we’re always trying to find ways to make the stay better.”

Chocolate and banana mug cake

Chocolate and banana mug cake

Homemade @ Hawthorn is the brand’s in-room cooking program, which launched in 2016. Chef Robin Miller, a nutritionist, cookbook author and former Food Network TV host, has dreamed up seasonal recipes that are equally creative and satisfying—and designed to be made in the comfort of the guestroom. The recipes cover a range of flavors and include fewer, simpler ingredients for quick preparation. Guests can use the grocery delivery companies to order the ingredients in the recipes—or any other items they desire.

“Our guests—like most extended-stay guests—are excited about getting in and having a kitchen,” said Hart. “What the difference is between extended-stay and anything else is the kitchen, and every guests wants to know, ‘How closely can I have all the tools and implements?’ We have a fridge, cooktop, garbage disposal and all those things in the midscale space; that’s really valued by the traveler.”

Hart noted that interest in in-room cooking is cross-generational, appealing to anyone craving homemade food and to have that control over what they consume.

“Thirty percent are already ordering their groceries online at home and 25% of households are ordering online, up from 5% in 2014, so it’s a nice, natural move for us. It’s an emerging opportunity, and we will continue to do what we can to capitalize on that,” he said.

For the pilot, the brand opted to work with Peapod and Instacart because they are already established and in the markets the hotels serve. The main focus, Hart noted, was to make sure guests got what they needed.

“Guests are excited and, as more people try it, they realize it’s a no-brainer. You have a kitchen and the ability to cook, so having the convenience is important; it’s something they may not have seen before,” he said.

The grocery delivery program has been piloted at select hotels in and around Chicago, Philadelphia and Hartford, CT. The brand plans to roll out more convenience services as it moves forward.

“Overall, our hotel owners and guests are excited about Homemade @ Hawthorn and the grocery delivery,” he said. “You’re going to see new recipes and new chef partners. We believe as extended-stay hotels continue to test and provide different offerings, we’ll make sure we’re on the forefront with recipes, meal kits and other things that appeal to long-term travelers.”

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