Ever wondered that your favourite food from 5-star restaurants including the famous ‘Daal Bukhara’ from ITC, the ‘meaty dimsum’ from Taj Hotels famous Golden Dragon to ‘The Japanese Shoyu Rice Bowl’ from the Wabi Sabi restaurant of The Oberoi, 5-star restaurants are all set to droll the customers with their lip smacking food at the comfort of home.
It all started with the pandemic when these hotels were closed for no business, no customers for almost 3 continuous months. I remember last year in early May when Marriott Hotels extended it ‘Marriott on Wheels’ brand by partnering with Swiggy for delivering its food at home. And, the trend saw many hotel chains entering into the delivery segment.
How fruitful is the delivery model?
“Owing to the prevailing restrictions on dining in and homes becoming the new epicentre,the hospitality industry continues to adapt and reinvent itself to meet the growing demands of consumers’ gourmet dining experiences at home,” shared Manas V. Krishnamoorthy, General Manager at ITC Windsor who believes that customers are looking for an experiential meal experience at home – that starts right from the time the order is placed, to packaging and delivery.
ITC Hotels has ventured into takeaway and delivery vertical to offer diners responsible dining experiences in the comfort of their home. The world’s greenest luxury hotel chain has also launched an exclusive app in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai to cater to the rising demand of home delivery of gourmet offerings. The Gourmet Couch by ITC Hotels offers an exclusive experience with an array of specially curated delicacies from their signature restaurants.
“At ITC Windsor, both these unique culinary experiences have received overwhelming feedback from diners across Bengaluru since launch. We are also seeing a trend in guests gifting the joy of a thoughtfully curated meals to their loved ones, and even hosting virtual parties and celebrations with pre-ordered meals,” he added.
Creating a ‘Hotel-like’ experience at home
Lauded for its usage of eco-friendly bio-degradable materials, the packaging for takeaway menus at these hotel chains are zero single-use plastic, thereby offering a responsible dining experience at the comfort of home.
“At Aloft, a huge emphasis is given to quality control, be it in the form of food, packaging or delivery standards. Marriott’s Commitment to Clean is in full effect and the best hygiene and safety protocols are in place. Our team has been vaccinated and also heavily trained in the new normal. Dining at home only removes the ambience of the outlet from the overall experience. Food quality remains top-notch, the packaging is sustainable and the delivery is seamless, on-time and contactless,” pointed Nitin Kumar, Asst. Food & Beverage Manager, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park that is part of Marriott Group.
Catering to the needs of its customers Hilton also entered into the world of delivery and has also partnered with Swiggy and Zomato for delivery.
“We have been receiving frequent calls from our regular customers who are currently unable to visit their favorite F&B outlets at Hilton hotels, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After careful deliberation and taking into account feedback from our customers, we are pleased to launch our food delivery service featuring Hilton’s signature dishes. In addition to offering these signature dishes from our most popular F&B outlets via Zomato and Swiggy; we will also be offering a curated delivery service for private parties and gatherings, bringing the Hilton Experience to their homes. Deliveries under this service will be done by our own staff using Hilton owned vehicles. Between both these services, we will be able to cater to our regular F&B guests, while also allowing many other customers to try signature Hilton dishes at home, at special delivery prices,” shared Prashant Kulkarni, Food & Beverage Director, Hilton India in a press statement earlier.
Also, at ITC looking at ‘New Normal’, a lot of thought has been put into the packaging of food – factoring in different contributors such as kind of cuisine, temperature, distance travelled, mode of transport, consumption techniques, etc. While every order has a WeAssure seal confirming that the customer is the first to come in direct contact with it after preparation, the food is packed in plant starched clamshell boxes - finally parcelled in a biodegradable bag with an aqueous coating. In order to preserve the taste and texture of each signature dish, each delivery comes with a heating manual with simple recommendations to best enjoy the type of cuisine ordered.
It’s all about the food
“We have developed one new menu for both dine-in and delivery, keeping in minds the latest trends, tastes and food habits of the city. The menu is predominantly Indian, with a lot of emphasis on the use of local ingredients. Alongside this, we have also added in a touch of Oriental and Continental flavours to cater to the needs of everyone. The menu also comprises a special kids section with a few fan favourites,” said Kumar.
Similarly, Hilton’s select delivery menu across cities features the top 20 signature dishes from the most popular F&B outlets of Hilton Hotels in those cities, at special delivery prices. For packaging, Hilton will be using biodegradable plastic, paper, and cardboard, it announced last year while entering into the delivery market.
The pandemic has, in a way, prompted the F&B industry to reinvent, innovate and deploy creativity to gauge the interest of the new-age consumers.
“ITC Hotels endeavours to continuously deliver culinary excellence through well-researched cuisine concepts to showcase the best of Indian culinary offerings. And reinforcing this belief, the chain has launched various offerings during the lockdown, including DIY kits, QR code menus, Gourmet Celebrations-at-home meals, etc,” added Krishnamoorthy by pointing that their takeaways have been a clear favourite among discerning diners, and we are gratified to note that the popularity continues even now. From their Biryani & Pulao Collection, subscription-based meal service Kitchen Takeover, Gourmet Couch to Tiffin Tales and Feel Good Menu have all emerged victorious during this time.
What’s the future of 5-star delivery?
There’s no denying that even after the lockdown and pandemic, people will be looking at delivery as a source of entertainment. And, restaurants across category will be happy to cater to the need of their loved one.
“Absolutely! As we are moving towards a digital world, more and more people are also opting for the ease of convenience, to order in a meal right from their couch. People are hungry for experiences that are wholesome and unique,” concluded Krishnamoorthy by adding that food delivery allows hoteliers and restaurateurs to engage ingeniously with a wider audience besides those who will walk into a restaurant on a Saturday night.
Commenting on the same Kumar said, “We definitely will be continuing the focus on delivery even after things start normalizing. Delivery will always remain an ancillary source of revenue for us, post-pandemic, as there has been a shift in dining habits that has now become a convenience over anything else.”
With primary focus on the micro-market hotel chains are giving a lot of emphasis to nearby residential complexes and also corporates located around them without limiting themselves to any target market as such.
Thus, we can say that as we navigate and adapt ourselves to the new normal in all aspects of life, there will be a new balance in everything we do including our approach to the business of hospitality. Brands are taking a step out of the box, to ideate and create new experiences that are meaningful, valuable and convenient for customers.