No one likes to feel nickel-and-dimed, especially when they’re already paying beaucoup bucks to stay in their suite. Hotels are notorious for hiking prices on their minibar offerings, and as a result, most people have the perception that the minibar is there to rip them off. Sure, tracking inventory, staffing minibar attendants, and products mysteriously disappearing means time and money, but offering items reasonably priced or complimentary will garner great TripAdvisor reviews and leave your guests feeling warm and fuzzy.
Here are some hotels who make the case for lower-priced minibars:
The Kimberly Hotel, located in midtown Manhattan, could get away with high prices for their in-room snacks. Instead, they don’t charge much more than the bodega down the block. When your customers are living it up around the Big Apple, coming back to a $3 can of Pringles or an $8 glass jar of high quality cashews seems like a steal.
Andaz San Diego
The Andaz in San Diego mixes it up by offering a handful of items complimentary. Chips, granola bars, and non-alcoholic drinks are free while the higher end items are offered for a price. This is a great way to give your guests value without taking a huge hit to your bottom line.
The Kimpton offers members of their loyalty program a $10 credit to use as they please, whether it be on a cocktail at the bar, or a snack from the in-room minibar. It’s a great way to reward your guests and keep them coming back.
This unique property in Denver offers up all sorts of delicious in-room snacks for free. One look at their TripAdvisor page, and it’s evident that this popular perk contributes to their high ratings.
SLS Las Vegas
This Las Vegas resort crafted a campaign called #MyVegasStory. It includes an invitation for their guests who book a room for 2 or more nights to raid the minibar for free (among other perks). This clever tactic gets people talking, hashtagging, and excited about staying at the property, because who doesn’t like looking like a baller on Instagram?
It’s not difficult to see that snacks and amenities are highly regarded and much appreciated while scrolling through hotel reviews. These properties have found a way to turn the notoriously cynical views of the minibar into marketing machines, surprising guests and adding value to their stay, making those resort fees and room rates seem all the more worth it.
With the rise of social media marketing, unprecedented connectivity, and ever-evolving tech advances, hoteliers need to keep a watchful eye on the trends and behaviors of their consumers. Here are a few trends that seem to be here to stay in the tourism industry and tips on how to seamlessly evolve your cool for your market.
It’s Keen to be Green
A 2016 survey shows that tourists prefer booking their vacations at “green” hotels. Properties that boast the use of eco-friendly fabrics and materials, employ recycling programs such as the Clean the World Foundation that recycles unused hotel soaps, and source from social and environmentally responsible companies can put you on the map for ecotourists.
Content is King
(photo: Trip Advisor)
If it’s not social media-worthy, millennials (who now make up the bulk of travelers) won’t show. Engaging this demographic is as easy as establishing a photo opportunity for them, whether it be a brightly patterned wall in the lobby or a luxuriously accessorized vignette around the in-room bar cart (à la The Beekman Hotel, pictured above).
Tying together travelers’ love for responsibly sourced goods and insta-worthy experiences, the importance of “local” is key. Show your hometown pride by offering local craft beer in the minibar, incorporating artwork from local artists, and redefine your hotel lounge as a community center in your neighborhood. Travelers are looking for authenticity and experiencing the uniqueness of the local culture during their stay.
Wealth of Wellness
The wellness industry has risen to a staggering $3.7 trillion market, with the largest sector being beauty and anti-aging. Hotels are embracing their customers’ vision of health beyond the spa to include tech-compatible fitness centers and healthy snack options offered in-room instead of the standard chips and chocolate.
Back to Basics
Referring to aesthetics and lifestyle combined, “minimalism” is the buzzword. Boutique hotels are employing the minimal practice in their guest room design and offerings, paring down once lengthy lists of menu items to a few curated, thoughtful options that cater to their audience. In a world of ever-refreshing social media feeds and on-demand anything, travelers appreciate the simplicity that hotels are moving towards.
Anyone who has been to a W Hotels property can attest to the fact that this clever, cheeky and original hospitality brand sees the world through a lens of limitless possibilities and thrives on maintaining a bold and consistent visual identity. Their brand manifesto states that their “irreverent attitude and taste for excess redefine revelry for the modern jet set.”
And their in-room minibar product design is certainly no exception.
W Hotels began their minibar makeover journey 13 years ago with an inventive and carefully designed collection of heavily branded geometric containers that created the opportunity to easily and quickly merchandise their in-room offerings to guests. Their unique product display also provided a branded, luxury experience and promoted immediate product engagement and indulgence, effectively boosting in-room minibar revenue.
Gina Villacres, Beverage & Food Talent Coach for W Hotels, confirmed our philosophy that offering a tailored selection of high-quality, creatively branded minibar products that create an emotional connection with guests is an optimal way to enhance engagement, remove price barrier and boost overall in-room minibar product sales. Gina comments “Currently our minibar is doing really well. We like to change up the flavors to test out which ones are more popular. Many guests are very pleased with the amount of items available at their fingertips–especially when they forget certain necessities like chargers, kits, etc.”
The W Hotels product selection has been carefully curated, and much like their vibrant and authentic brand, has strategically evolved over the years. Here is a visual rundown of the minibar product line evolution over the past decade. We think you’ll agree that these minibar products embody the W Hotels energy and, in the words of their brand, “live it up, light it up, and keep it fun.” Now what hotel guest wouldn’t like that?
Travelers are placing high importance on conservation and seek out brands that do the same. In response to this green demand, hotels across the globe are continually devising unique strategies to reduce waste. The Fairmont Royal York, home of Canada’s largest hotel kitchen, composts coffee grounds and vegetable waste for use in the hotel’s rooftop herb garden. At Taj Hotels and Resorts in India, all unwanted linens, toiletries, blankets and unclaimed articles from lost and found are donated to local charitable organizations. Lovat and Queens Hotels in Scotland reuses all restaurant, bar and in-room menus as scrap paper. Hotel El Ganzo, in Mexico, reuses materials, such as wood from the original construction site, to make furniture and doors.
But what about the minibar? Certainly it should also have a place in the sustainable sun. Here are a few tips for minimizing your minibar’s environmental footprint while continuing to maximize guest experience:
Stock your minibar with items that are recyclable and, if possible, use green printing methods such as soy-based inks or FSC certified paper products. If it’s not clearly marked on the label, just ask! Most companies will be more than happy to share their sustainable packaging practices with you.
By The Numbers
Work with a vendor that doesn’t require you to purchase more minibar product than you need just to meet contractual obligations or blanket purchase orders. They should also be able to advise you on your inventory to help you order the correct quantities and reduce any potential food waste.
Look for minibar products that have a longer shelf life. The average minibar products have a nine-month shelf life, but products that are nitrogen-flushed have double that amount. The extended shelf life will eliminate expired food waste in the event that a product doesn’t sell as quickly as you’d anticipated.
Most hotel properties admirably ensure that all left behind minibar product containers are properly sorted and recycled, which is always a good practice. But we thought that some of these items had the potential to take on an even more inventive afterlife, and we came up with a few fun and creative ways to reuse these containers. Just consider it your Pinterest dose for the day.
For more information on green initiatives and how your property can reduce its environmental impact, contact Green Hotels Association, www.greenhotels.com
It’s no secret that modern in-room minibar product offerings extend well beyond the items inside the refrigerated unit itself. Many hotels focus on making their minibar amenity programs a very significant component of guest travel experience, as evidenced by the recent Vogue article “Minibar Mania” which gives a descriptive summary of some of the most delectable and desirable in-room minibar offerings across the globe.
In addition to boosting TripAdvisor reviews, minibar offerings can earn your hotel property some serious coolness points–especially if you toss in a few off-the-wall items to get your guests attention and set your property apart.
The Renaissance Paris République Hotel provides some very tres chic snacking options, including Roasted Grasshoppers in sun-dried tomato and basil flavor, for adventurous guests who are looking to consume a hearty protein snack and still save room for their escargot entree.
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach offers a selfie-stick in their minibar, for ambitious tourists aiming to upgrade their vacation portraits by capturing all the background scenes, sights and art deco design of the American Riviera. Get ready for some serious Instagram selfies, folks back home!
The Godfrey Hotel in Boston offers a complimentary Rubiks Cube in the minibar so guests can bring out their inner puzzle-solving genius, perhaps while waiting (and waiting) for their significant other to get ready for a wicked awesome day exploring Beantown.
Channel Your Inner Pee-Wee
W South Beach Miami offers an emergency bow-tie kit for those unplanned occasions when guests need to transform themselves from normal to formal. With a long history of living around the necks of those who aren’t afraid to make a statement, this item is perfectly at home in the minibar of the W South Beach.
Who Let The Dogs In
Pier One Sydney Harbour hotel in Australia has a minibar specifically for its four-legged visitors. Beef jerky, doggie toys and tendon treats are on the menu for all pups, so Fido doesn’t need to be an Australian Shepherd to enjoy this well-curated canine amenity selection. But it might help.
Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh offers delicious “Champagne Dreams” gourmet gummies for those who would prefer to chew through their happy hour and save the liquid libations for after dinner.
Bring The Noise
The Epicurean Hotel in Tampa lulls its guests into a deep slumber with a sound machine which comes with ten pre-recorded, soothing sounds. And since the hotel is uber-focused on its culinary delights, you can rest assured that the sound of sizzling bacon is part of the repertoire.
Beyond Black Coffee
Conrad Hotel in Dublin, Ireland offers their guests a Hangover Essentials Kit in the minibar. The contents of this kit include a bottle of 5-Hour Energy, Advil liquid capsules, a pair of collapsible sunglasses, candy dish mints and two band-aids, providing relief to those travelers who enjoyed a late night in the pub followed by an early morning exploring the countryside with family.
The Kimpton Sky Hotel in Aspen offers travel-size oxygen tanks to help guests combat the effects of its 7,945 ft. altitude location. Since the hotel is nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain, this minibar offering allows guests to acclimate to the elevation and recharge for their outdoor adventures.
Ooh La La
The Out Hotel in NYC conveniently offers its guests a Pleasure Kit in the minibar, which features everything from lubricant to erotic toys for those enjoying a cozy and exciting night in.
Have an idea for a unique minibar product offering that will provide a more memorable experience for your guests? Contact us today so we can help you iron out all the details!
Is that tap water in the minibar vodka bottle? Are those cocktail napkins crammed into the pretzel tin? If you’ve experienced minibar theft or product tampering, you know exactly how frustrating it can be. One of the most commonly targeted hotel amenities for theft is the minibar. This is why we’ve polled some of our experienced hotel partners on their tips and tricks for minibar theft prevention.
Here are some successful ways to keep your in-room theft low, your minibar revenue high, and your food and beverage products safe for future guests:
Eyes On The Prize
Melinda Stevenson, Food & Beverage Manager for W Hotels Atlanta Buckhead, advises putting products into your in-room minibars that make it very difficult for guests to conceal tampering. This includes snacks in clear bags or containers that provide easy product viewing, cans that have a foil pop-top without a lid, and wine bottles with a cork instead of a twist-off. She also suggests placing small branded logo labels over the seals on water or liquor bottles, and to always have products facing the same direction so your staff can visually determine what has been handled by a guest.
Dennis Carter, Maitre D’ of In-Room Dining for The Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda, swears by his smart bar system which has product sensors to detect movement of all food and beverage items. This means a quick and easy follow-up by staff to ensure that none of the items moved were tampered with and placed back into the bar.
Seal The Deal
Martha Ortiz, Director of Housekeeping for The Grand Hotel Minneapolis, places plastic tabs on the minibar lock that break upon guest access. When the seal is broken, staff know to check products for potential tampering and product consumption. She also double-seals some of the beverages to ensure guests do not consume them and refill with tap water.
Carlos Cordoba, Private Bar Manager for Fontainebleau Miami Beach, says that automated minibars are the way to go–especially for large-scale properties. These bars record all guest activity that occurs in the minibar, making it simple for staff to check those specific products for tampering. He also trains his minibar attendants to specifically look for oddities, such as cans that are leaking or seals that are broken, and to ensure that all minibar offerings are in perfect condition. Additionally, Carlos uses a software system that links directly to the minibars and automatically locks them once a room becomes vacant, preventing potential staff minibar theft as well.
Have some great advice for how to prevent guest tampering or minibar product theft? We would love to hear from you!
Offering your guests the same generic snacks in their minibars that are also available at the corner drugstore can sell your hotel short in more ways than one. But you can position your property–and your minibar–for success through custom designed minibar products that become an automatic extension of your hotel’s unique brand.
Here are 3 key reasons to swap generic snacks for custom-branded minibar products:
Bring ‘Em Back
It’s no secret that repeat guests bring in a sizeable portion of hospitality industry revenue. This means hotel properties need to create a unique, differentiated experience that will encourage guests to keep coming back. Customized minibar product offerings automatically become an extension of your hotel’s brand, ensuring that your guests receive a consistent brand experience throughout every aspect of their stay. This also increases the probability that they will remember your property the next time they need to book a reservation.
Guests often balk at in-room minibar prices. But customers who are fully engaged with a brand are less sensitive to price because their emotional connection overrides their cost concerns. Offering a tailored selection of high-quality, creatively branded minibar products that extends the brand and creates an emotional connection with guests is an optimal way to enhance engagement, remove price barrier, and boost overall in-room minibar product sales. Avoiding the tendency to go overboard with high prices and service charges will also always make a guest feel like they made the right decision by trusting your brand.
It’s A Setup
Trying to creatively arrange a selection of mismatched, individually branded minibar snack products can be frustrating and time-consuming. But an inventive and carefully designed custom minibar product selection will provide you with an opportunity to easily and quickly merchandise your offerings. A unique product display also provides your guests with a branded, luxury experience and promotes immediate product engagement and indulgence, effectively boosting your in-room minibar revenue.
According to a TripAdvisor survey, 50 percent of travelers say that convenience is their number one motivation for purchasing snacks from the minibar. But what about the other 50 percent of travelers? Well after nearly 30 years in the minibar business, we know them pretty well.
Here are 5 tips for creating an in-room minibar program that will captivate your guests:
Know Your Peeps
It’s likely that a young newlywed couple won’t want the same minibar products as a solo business professional traveling for a conference. To know your guests is to know what they want. In order to create an enticing minibar program, you’ll want to clearly understand your guests and recognize their preferences. Are they mostly families on a leisure vacation? Business travelers? Honeymooning couples? Conventioneers? Once you’ve identified your key demographic, you’ll be able to offer a selection of minibar items that will appeal directly to them, greatly increasing the chance of purchase.
Spotlight Local Flavor
Travelers often look for items that go with their travel experience. This is why custom minibar products enjoy some of the highest minibar sales. Guests often prefer consuming products that have a location connection to the hotel and/or city they are staying in. And the product containers can even make great last-minute souvenirs. In 2016, both Ritz Carlton San Francisco and Four Seasons Seattle reported that minibar sales of local products saw the fastest growth, as compared to the more generic snack and beverage items.
Check Out Your ‘Hood
Know the nearby places your guests might go to get a late night snack fix, such as convenience stores, gas stations or gift shops. What types of snack products do they sell? Ideally you want to offer minibar snacks that a guest can’t quickly pick up from a corner store for a few bucks. To generate interest and maximize sales potential, your minibar offerings should be somewhat unique and not simply duplicate the snack items that are easily sourced in your neighborhood.
Mix It Up
It may initially seem easier, but minibar product sales will suffer if you blindly throw together a random mix of snacks and packs. Your guests view the minibar as an added luxury while at your hotel, and your selection of minibar items should offer them a good balance of sweet, salty, healthy, and local and/or custom branded products that satisfy their potential desires. Having a nice blend of a few big-brands your guests are familiar with and some unique ones they may be curious about will provide the best returns.
Make It Interesting
Ben Pundole, VP of Brand at EDITION Hotels, has proclaimed minibars to be “carefully curated micro retail spaces that project the image of the property and the brand.” Ben, we couldn’t agree with you more. Giving guests an enticing minibar snack selection is crucial, but there’s always the option to add a little brand personality to the mix by offering a few unique and memorable items. We’ve helped hundreds of properties find their brand voice through creative in-room amenities: The W South Beach now offers a quirky Emergency Bowtie, the Nobu Miami Beach delights it’s guests with Green Tea Kit-Kats in customized containers to reflect the Japanese style of the property, and the design of the entire Fontainebleau Miami Beach minibar product line reflects the hotel’s unique architecture.
Offering your guests a well-rounded selection of unique and interesting minibar items that will entice them can breathe new life into your in-room amenity program, while simultaneously increasing your revenue and improving your reviews. This will also ensure that you attract and impress the other 50 percent of travelers (who are looking for something more than just convenience) during every single stay.
From revenue to reviews, there's a lot to learn from the winners of the recently announced Gourmet Traveler Magazine 2017 Hotel Awards– namely the 2017 Best Hotel Minibar winner, COMO The Treasury hotel in Western Australia.
Here are our 3 key takeaways from the land down under to help you get up over your apprehension as you develop and perfect your in-room amenity program:
#1. Merchandise Your Minibar Mix
Presentation of your in-room amenity selection to guests is equal parts art and science, and the COMO hotel seems to have perfected this ratio with their artful in-room display of local beverages and snacks. Having a cool minibar with custom minibar products hidden away in a closet is unfortunately not going to entice (or impress) your hotel guests. An inventive and carefully arranged product display in a central location gives your guests the opportunity to immediately and repeatedly engage with your selection of in-room minibar products. This promotes indulgence, encourages in-room convenience purchases, and ultimately increases your revenue.
#2. Stand By Your Brand
In addition to the in-room gourmet Illy coffee and JING tea offered, COMO also seamlessly extends their hotel brand experience through their custom in-room minibar product offerings. Offering the same generic snacks available at the corner mini-mart can sell your hotel brand experience short, but custom designed products become an automatic extension of your hotel brand, ensuring that your guests receive a consistent and high-quality brand experience throughout every aspect of their stay. Offering an interesting and creative mix of custom minibar products is the optimal way to provide memorable brand experiences that connect with your guests and dramatically increase guest loyalty.
#3. Elevate Guest Experience
It's no accident that COMO The Treasury hotel has an overwhelming amount of 5-star Trip Advisor ratings, or that they were named #2 Best Hotel in the World by Condé Nast. A hotel’s in-room amenity program and minibar style can either delight or disappoint, and is often a factor when it comes to overall guest experiences. COMO’s creative selection of local and regional gourmet minibar snacks has been thoughtfully customized to provide a unique luxury experience and reflect the hotel’s style while also creating additional souvenir purchasing opportunities for guests. Win-win.
There are a million ways to create optimal guest experiences, but COMO The Treasury hotel is right on the money when it comes to developing an in-room minibar amenity program that leads to increased brand awareness, higher satisfaction ratings, repeat guest stays, and generally happier (and well fed) travelers. Oh, and internationally recognized industry awards. Because who doesn’t like those? Congrats again, COMO.