For limited-service and economy properties, offering room service for guests would be a hardship. Between preparing food and managing delivery and payments, the return on investment likely wouldn’t be worth the trouble. But having outside help can make all the difference. Enter Butler Hospitality, a NYC-based startup that offers room service for limited-service properties. They manage whole process—and hoteliers get a cut of the profits. LODGING chatted with the co-founders of the company, Tim Gjonbalic and Margurite McDonald, and discussed what inspired them to fill this gap in the hospitality industry.
How did you first get the idea for Butler Hospitality? MM: Tim and I noticed that there are very limited room service options for hotels. In some places, there’s no room service at all. How do those people eat? We were inspired by on-demand services like Uber, and from there we came up with the idea for room service delivery.
Butler Hospitality is growing at a very fast rate. How are you ensuring the company maintains its quality? TG: While our volume increases as we continue work with the same hotels, we’ve placed our outlet kitchens strategically throughout the city. So, the difference between us and an UberEATS or a Seamless—where they’re delivering on-demand to any and every building in New York City—is that we’re delivering to the same 15 to 20 hotels all the time. So, when we’re busy, the volume in each building goes up, but it doesn’t spread our delivery people too thin. That way we can ensure we’re delivering in a timely manner.
F&B for limited-service hotels is a very niche market. Why did you want to go in that direction? MM: The room service amenity system has been broken for the last 100 years. It can be very underwhelming in terms of quality and overwhelming in terms of price. Each and every one of us has a story where we ordered something from room service and kind of clenched our wallets a little and wondered, “How much is this going to set me back?” It became a luxury, when what it really should be is convenient. We’re just so excited to be able to turn it on its head and to re-invent it to what it always should have been, which is great quality food at a reasonable price.