The Basics of Room Service
The term ‘room service’ refers to a type of service in which staff delivers food and drinks to hotel guests in their room or suite. The range of the service will depend on the type of hotel, the grading level, and the market it serves.
If a hotel offers a meal service, it is usually based on the restaurant menu so that there is no extra pressure on the kitchen to produce a broader range of items. The kind of item that is put on the menu should also be easy to transport and not lose heat or spoil easily. There is always going to be some time delay between leaving the kitchen and arriving at the room.
Room service waiters
As well as good technical service skills, room service waiters need to have very good communication and guest service skills. You will deal directly with guests and may be called on in the presence of the guest to serve a wide range of specialist items. You must be able to communicate well over the telephone and clearly and quickly takedown orders. With regards to the menu and the range of room service, you need to be able to answer queries. You also have to know how to prepare all the items on the menu and deliver them. It is possible that waiters for room service may come across unexpected situations, and it is essential that you be careful not to embarrass the guest.
Dealing with guests
Orders are usually placed by calling an internal phone extension. All service staff must be able to deal directly with the guest according to the following guidelines:
- Always deal with guests in a polite and friendly manner.
- Avoid unnecessary delays in answering the telephone – it should not ring more than three times.
- Greet the guest in the correct manner. ‘Room service, good day. How may I help you?’ would be acceptable in most operations. It is important that you speak clearly, because the guests need to know that they have reached the right department.
Taking the order
- Listen carefully to the customer.
- Write down the order, the customer’s room number and the time the order was taken on an order pad.
- Have a copy of the menu close at hand, in case you need to refer to it.
- Tell the guest if a dish is not available and suggest an alternative.
- Promote any specials your establishment may be offering.
- Answer any questions, for example, on the ingredients in a dish, as accurately as possible.
- Read the order back to the customer to check if everything is correct.
- Tell him or her what the waiting period will be.
Making up the order
- Keep a check on the time the order was taken.
- Let the guest know if there are any delays.
- Use the correct size tray for the order placed.
- Set up a tray or trolley with all the correct cutlery, crockery, condiments, and accompaniments while waiting for the order to be completed.
- Check that all crockery, cutlery, glassware, and linen are clean and not damaged.
- If you deliver a hot food order at the same time as an order for drinks, collect the drinks order from the bar service area first, so that the hot food does not get cold while you wait for the drinks.
- Make sure that you take hot food to the room as soon as it is ready.
- Before leaving the room service area with the order, inspect the tray or trolley to make sure that the order is correct, complete, and properly presented.
- Before you leave the room service area with the tray or trolley, make sure that you have the correct room number for the order and know the name of the guest. You can get this from the room list.
- Make sure you have any extra equipment you may need to provide the necessary service (for example, a corkscrew for opening wine bottles).
- Make sure you have the correct order docket and a pen that is working.
- Carry trays carefully to avoid any breakages, spills, or accidents.
- Only use trolleys for serving, not for anything else.
Serving the order
- When you reach the room, check that the number on the room is the same as the number on the order.
- If you are carrying a tray, make sure it is stable and not likely to fall over. If it is too heavy, place the tray on the floor before knocking.
- Knock firmly on the door, or ring the doorbell.
- Identify yourself as ‘Room Service’ if asked.
- Enter only when you are told to, or if the door is opened.
- Greet the guest by name, in an appropriate and friendly manner.
- Deliver the order. It may be necessary for you to serve the food, open the wine or pour the drinks.
- When the service is complete, make sure the guest is satisfied with the order and politely ask him or her to sign the docket.
- Remove any empty plates, glasses, or other crockery or cutlery that is not needed.
- Thank the guest, wish him or her a good day and return to the room service area.
- Make sure that the docket is processed.
- If there are any complaints, returns or extra requirements, make sure that you handle these immediately.
- If complaints need to be handled by a more senior person, make sure you contact a supervisor.
What if the guest does not answer the door?
Return the order to the room service area and follow up by checking the original order and room number if there is no answer after you have knocked on the door a few times. If they are the same, call the room to check if an order has been placed. Always be polite-the visitor may have been in the shower. If a mistake has been made, apologize to the guest (that is, if it is the incorrect room). To find out who put the order, follow whatever procedures you can.