According to Wyndham Hotel Group, consumers spent an estimated $42 billion in online grocery orders in 2016; that’s a 160% increase in revenue for the online grocery industry from 2015.
In response, the hotelier has launched its own grocery delivery pilot. Travelers staying at select Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham locations can now avoid “hunting down” the nearest grocery store when they travel to an unfamiliar city.
“The popularity of online grocery shopping and delivery keeps rising, and we want to get out in front of this demand. If [guests] enjoy this convenience at home, we want them to enjoy it on the road, providing them with what they need to be comfortable while traveling,” said Larry Hambro, VP of brand operations at Hawthorn.
Through a partnership with Peapod and Instacart, guests can have grocery items delivered directly to their accommodations. The new amenity is designed to ease the burden of extended-stay travelers who would otherwise need to venture offsite in an unknown locality to find foodstuffs and ingredients for meals.
"We know convenience is king for long-term travelers staying in new cities for weeks or months at a time," Hambro said in a release announcing the service.
"An essential part of helping our guests stick to their regular regimens when they stay with us is delivering the comforts of home, like a homemade meal or their go-to snack,” he continued. “Our grocery delivery pilot makes that possible by giving guests the power of selection combined with the convenience of online shopping and curated dishes. We get everything delivered these days straight from our computers and phones, from car rides to shaving kit subscriptions to groceries so why shouldn't we also get them when we're traveling for extended periods?"
Guests can access the amenity via hawthorn.com/homemade. Depending on the hotel’s location, users will be connected with either Peapod or Instacart and they can then proceed to complete their digital shopping. Hawthorn does not charge guests any additional fee for the service.
In the release, Hambro said that in the U.S. alone, 10 million millennials and Gen Xers shopped for groceries online last year. The result was a 10% jump in domestic customers from 2015.
The hotel group is confident that it has identified an indirect revenue driver, but it is not yet ready to commit to a full-time investment.
“We launched grocery delivery service as a pilot program so we can understand how guests respond to and use the service, what works and what might need tweaking,” Hambro said.
“When the pilot runs its course later this summer, we’ll then be able to focus on the right direction for the future of the program, while addressing what makes the most sense for our guests, our hotels and the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham brand.”
The service is currently available at eight Hawthorn Suites hotels including locations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Orlando.
Hambro said that feedback on the program from both guests and the participating hotels has been “positive,” which does not surprise him.
“For the traveler who stays at a hotel for weeks or months at a time, a stay isn’t vacation – it’s life. We know our long-term guests crave the routines and comforts of home, so we’re always finding ways to help them do that,” Hambro said. “We know they’re already cooking and shopping when they stay with us - we just made both easier.”