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Looks Like a Domino’s, But Radisson Hotels Deliver Own Pizza in Disguise

August 25, 1989

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ You’re staying at a Radisson hotel and craving pizza. You spot a card on the nightstand advertising pizza delivery. A call brings a piping-hot pie to the door delivered by a person wearing what appears to be a pizza chain’s outfit.

It isn’t.

Though hotel guests might assume they are ordering pizza from an outlet outside the hotel, such as Domino’s or Pizza Hut, they’re not. The pizza is baked in the same hotel kitchen that makes regular room-service orders and is delivered by a room service employee disguised as a pizza delivery person.

Why the subterfuge?

Don Clawson, vice president of food services for Radisson Hotels International, said the hotels had to overcome the perception among travelers that a room-service pizza isn’t as good as one from a pizza parlor. So the company decided to pattern its pizza delivery on Domino’s.

″To be perfectly honest, we don’t tell the customer it’s from room service,″ said Clawson. ″If they ask, we would tell them. We are not dishonest about it. If they don’t ask, we don’t tell them.″

Radisson developed the in-house pizza idea in 1985 after company President John Norlander noticed the number of empty Domino’s boxes lining the halls of a Radisson hotel during a company business conference.

The Minneapolis-based hotel chain’s in-house pizza delivery service used to be called ″Pizza...We Deliver 3/8″ The pizza was offered through room service, and sales were disappointing, Clawson said.

Radisson’s new pizza service is named ″Napolizza ... The Pizza With Pizzazz,″ after the Italian city of Napoli, which claims to be the birthplace of pizza. The Napolizza phone number is separate from room service’s and is listed prominently among pizza delivery services in the room’s telephone directory.

Radisson room service employees who deliver pizza wear a nylon jacket, baseball cap and polo shirt emblazoned with the Napolizza logo. The pie is delivered in a pizza box or in a ″hot wrap,″ a thermal insulated carrying case.

Like Domino’s, the Napolizza pizza comes with discount coupons for future purchases. The pizza is delivered within 29 minutes or it’s free - one minute less than Domino’s 30-minute delivery guarantee.

Not everyone is fooled by the illusion, Clawson said.

″It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that hotels don’t allow free-standing restaurants to advertise (in the rooms) very often,″ he said.

About 45 of the 110 U.S. Radisson hotels offer the service, Clawson said. Sales average 40-45 pizzas daily per hotel, almost 2 1/2 times the number sold under Radisson’s old program, and Domino’s sales at the hotels have been cut significantly, he said.

A ″good many″ of the 1,400 Holiday Inns in the United States have an in- house pizza program, but there’s no attempt to disguise the pizza’s origin, said Ginny Troutt, a spokeswoman for the Memphis-based chain.

″We noticed a lot of pizza boxes in guest rooms,″ she said. ″We thought, why not offer a pizza?″

Ron Hingst, a spokesman for Domino’s Pizza Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., said the company isn’t concerned about being imitated.

″We wish them luck. Imitation’s the best form of flattery,″ Hingst said, adding that Domino’s hasn’t noticed an impact on sales at hotels that offer in-house pizzas.

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