Food tray on hotel bed

Travelers are spending less on food and drinks, and some hotels are responding by putting an end to traditional room service. Others are working harder to entice their guests’ taste buds.

New York Hilton Midtown, the biggest hotel in New York City (it has nearly 2,000 rooms), announced plans to eliminate room service starting this summer. In its place, the hotel will offer a cafeteria-type restaurant where guests can grab quick meals like pizza and sandwiches.

“Hotels are retooling to make the food offerings more limited,” says Bruce Baltin, senior vice president at hospitality consulting firm PKF Consulting.

Spending reports show that room rates have been edging up in the past year and are on track in 2013 to eclipse pre-recession prices. But spending on food, drinks and other hotel extras hasn’t kept pace. A new PKF report shows that room revenue from 2011 to 2012 rose by 6.3%, while income from food, drinks and other hotel services edged up only 2.3%.

To get guests to spend, some Southern California hotels are responding by offering new choices, such as the Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, which plans to offer quick, on-the-go drinks and meals, like steel-cut oats for breakfast, by year-end. Grab-and-go options may be another trick to serve people on the move all the time.