Los Angeles hotels leverage new food ordering app

Users of the Porter technology platform scan an in-room QR code to launch a web interface that lets them browse restaurant menus, select food and beverage orders and handle all the monetary details. Photo credit: Porter (Porter)

Three adjacent properties near Los Angeles International Airport will be the first major-market customers for Porter, a new contact-free food ordering technology. The H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton; the Homewood Suites by Hilton LAX; and the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles LAX/Century Boulevard were preceded by seven limited-service hotels near the company’s headquarters in Oregon earlier this year.

The Porter technology platform handles food ordering, delivery, payment and tipping in a single smartphone transaction. Users scan an in-room QR code to launch a web interface that lets them browse restaurant menus, select food and beverage orders and handle all the monetary details—all without having to use the hotel room phone, interact with a hotel employee or download a special app.

The H Hotel’s Waypoint Kitchen receives and prepares the orders on behalf of all three properties. Guests at the 187-room Courtyard by Marriott are notified by text message when their orders are ready and can pick them up from a lobby counter, whereas a staff member personally delivers trays to one of the 290 rooms at the H Hotel and 122 rooms at the Homewood Suites. At the H Hotel, guests can also order items from the sundries and convenience store, which are delivered to guestrooms via a “robot butler.”

“Consumers today are accustomed to using their smart devices for all kinds of transactions wherever they go, and we want to provide them with the same level of sophistication when it comes to the dining experience at our properties,” said Annie Saville, complex director of operations, H Hotel/Homewood Suites LAX. “This type of technology helps please our guests and streamlines our back-of house operations. It’s a win-win.”

In the future, the H Hotel plans to integrate its coffee shop and its rooftop service into the Porter interface. “The idea for Porter originated with a beer garden that collaborated with a nearby pod of food trucks to provide something closer to a full-service dining experience,” said John Barry, co-founder and “chief porter” of the company. “But the owner saw his patrons spending more time standing in lines to place orders than sitting and enjoying themselves. He saw this as a missed opportunity, both for the guests and his business.” 

After introducing Porter to restaurants in its home state of Oregon, the company refined its focus and now targets venues that combine multiple food and retail vendors, such as hotels, food halls and sports stadiums.

“For many hotels, especially smaller boutiques, foodservice is a complicated operation that can be eased by partnering with Porter,” Barry said. “We customize our technology to work with their local capabilities, whether that’s an in-house café or a curated selection of nearby restaurants, bars and food trucks. This way, hoteliers can offer guests a taste of the unique local culture without having to add lots of staffing and infrastructure.”

Porter Partners is based in Springfield, Ore., and is currently rolling out the platform in selected regions across the United States.