"Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room-service requests over the last several years as customer preferences and expectations continue to evolve," said a hotel spokesperson.
"I'm sure room-service demand has declined," said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst for Hudson Crossing. He noted that many hotels—particularly ones in New York—face growing competition from McDonald's and Starbucks, as well as unique food vendors on virtually every block.
"Opening the lobby café is one way for the Hilton to serve its guests as it tries to also win back some of the business it may be losing to outside establishments," he said.
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But Harteveldt warned that such action could also jeopardize a hotel's status.
"It will be tough for the Hilton to call itself 'full service' without room service, even though it offers many other amenities," he said. "If room service is a requirement to earn a four-star rating from independent organizations like AAA, Hilton's move may put [that] rating in jeopardy, unless the hotel can obtain an exemption."
Labor also plays a roll, Harteveldt said. "If the Hilton and its union can find a way to compromise on pay and benefits, it's possible room service may return to the Hilton," Harteveldt said. "If not, we may see other hotels drop room service as well."
Hilton said it would work with its union to offer alternate positions or severance packages at the New York property for employees affected by the upcoming change.