Is the mini-bar still cool?

Minibars offer wonderful incremental revenue that, if managed right, could bring a lot to the bottom line. Why is it then that many hotels worldwide are doing away with them?

Research has shown that while there are still guests who use the mini-bar, this has been declining steadily for some time and has dropped considerably since the global economic crisis. Travellers are just so much more conscious of what they spend. Many hotels have reported that more conscious of what they spend. Many hotels have reported that more and me guests are buying their soft drinks and snacks from nearby supermarkets and requesting that the mini-bar  stock to be removed to make room for their own supplies. That means that more guests are becoming sensitive to the often high mark up placed on the items in the mini-bar. Add to this the extra manpower needed to stock, restock and monitor the usage of items from the mini-bar and the unpleasantness  of disputes when guests insist that  they have been billed for items they never consumed and you may wonder if having a mini-bar in the room is even worth considering.

The problem with this argument is that it completely ignores the guest experience. The mini-bar is an innovation that creates opportunities for customisation and creates more choices for your guests. By being and an empty vessel into which you can place your creativity and forethought, the mini-bar allows each establishment to stand out against their competition. Before writing off the mini-bar, consider first if you’ve been making full use of the opportunity to show your guests that their needs comes first. Rethink the items you’ve been placing in the mini-bar and then maybe consider asking your guests at the time of booking if they have any specific preferences in terms of mini-bar stock. You may even want to ask them if they want the mini-bar stocked at all.

One very successful establishment has come up a novel solution. They have a simple “mini-bar menu” on their booking form that offers guests the option of having a “Health – Nut” mini-bar (nuts, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheese and biscuits, fruit juices, mineral water); a “Traditional” mini -bar (crisps, chocolates, biltong, wine, beer, hard tack and soft drinks) or a “No thanks” mini bar (no stock and plenty of space for their own supplies). This establishment is sending a very strong message to their guests that they are there to serve them!

When considering the pros and cons always consider guest comfort!