By Christine Kern, contributing writer
In news this week, McDonald’s expands its delivery service pilot to more than 1,000 locations; grocery delivery services help guests at Hawthorn Suites feel more at home; and a new poll shows that Millennials are responding well to restaurant chain efforts to win them over.
McDonald’s Partners With UberEats To Expand Delivery Service
Last month’s expanded partnership with Uber means that delivery services will now be available at more than 1,000 locations across the U.S., according to The Chicago Tribune, including 300 in Los Angeles, California; 144 in Phoenix, Arizona; 270 in Chicago, Illinois; and 59 in Columbus, Ohio. The original pilot delivery program was launched in January in more than 200 Florida locations in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay. The original pilot created “high levels of customer satisfaction and consistent growth,” according to a McDonald’s statement, leading to the expansion of the service. Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, stated, “We are bringing a new level of convenience to more of our customers as we continue to transform the McDonald’s experience.”
“We’re not testing; we’re rolling out,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook told reporters in March. Delivery has emerged as the largest single trend in the restaurant industry as a way for chains to better compete for sales. “McDonald’s restaurant footprint, combined with the cutting-edge innovation of the UberEats platform, positions us well to meet consumer demand for fast and reliable delivery, making this an ideal partnership,” Easterbrook said in a statement.
"Whether you are at home or at the park, UberEats has what you're craving ready to be delivered at the tap of a button,” said Jason Droege, Head of UberEverything. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with McDonald’s in the U.S. to bring the ease and reliability of Uber's technology to deliver customer’s favorite menu items."
Wyndham Helps Make Guests Feel At Home With Grocery Delivery Services
In an effort to boost customer satisfaction and improve the overall guest experience, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham has partnered with retail delivery service Instacart and online grocer Peapod to provide grocery delivery to guests in their hotels. The pilot is currently available at eight locations in and around Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; and Orlando, Florida, and aims to help long-term guests maintain their daily routines while away from home. It is also the latest addition to Homemade @ Hawthorn, an in-room, chef-driven cooking program that allows guests to prepare meals from seasonal recipes from award-winning chefs in their in-suite kitchens.
Ordering grocery items takes just a few clicks at www.hawthorn.com/homemade, and guests can have them delivered straight to their hotel. A recent survey1 from Hawthorn Suites found that two-thirds of Americans, including 84 percent of Millennials, agree being able to cook in a hotel room would make them feel more at home when traveling, and that comforting and familiar foods topped the list with 38 percent of respondents longing for baked goods, followed by pasta (31 percent) and salad (27 percent).
"We know convenience is king for long-term travelers staying in new cities for weeks or months at a time," said Larry Hambro, vice president, brand operations, Hawthorn Suites. "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. 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?"
Hambro continued, "More and more people are getting groceries delivered at home – last year, one in 10 Millennials and Gen Xers in the U.S. shopped for groceries online, up almost 10% from 2015. Why shouldn't they have that same convenient experience when away from home?"
Restaurant Chain Efforts To Woo Millennials Is Apparently Working
In a new EquiTrend Study from the Harris Poll, Millennials rank restaurant chains higher than their older counterparts, with Five Guys, The Cheesecake Factory, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks scoring highest in their respective categories, The Nation’s Restaurant News reported. The poll queried 100,000 consumers on more than 4,000 brands, including 90 restaurant chains.
“Restaurants continue to adapt to the Millennial lifestyle, and advancements in ordering methods such as Starbucks’ mobile app and Chick-fil-A’s ‘Mom Valet’ are likely influencing Millennials’ higher brand equity score,” explained Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll.
The fight for the Millennials’ business has been one heavily invested in technology including mobile ordering, new payment options, and kiosks, as well as a move to offering clean food without artificial ingredients. The efforts appear to be paying off: Millennials gave pizza chains brand equity scores that were eight points higher than their Baby Boomer counterparts, while fast-casual Mexican restaurants earned scores 7.6 higher from Millennials than those from Baby Boomers.
Yet restaurant chains should not engage in tunnel vision when it comes to their customer base: they need to remember their other segments as well. Sinopoli explained, “While the Millennial dollar is powerful and attractive – and many are clearly enjoying their rising disposable income – Baby Boomers already have the cash to spend on meals out and need to be courted.”