A hotel mini bar is a very convenient amenity for guests. Whether you, as a guest, arrive after hours when the restaurant is closed or whether you want to enjoy a movie in the privacy of your room snacking on mini bar items, your hotel mini bar is here just waiting for you. It is there for you 24/7. No need to wait forty five minutes for Room Service or go out in the hallway to chase a vending machine, if in fact one is available. No need to look for quarters or single dollar bills only to find out that the machine took your money and gave you nothing in return.
Unlike any other room amenity, a hotel mini bar appeals to our sense of smell, taste and sight. All the products are nicely displayed providing an attractive menu. Like all casinos that never have clocks, hotel mini bar products never have prices. You have to go out of your way to look for a menu, tent card or door hanger. A hotel mini bar is designed to cater to the impulse sell. After all at 2:00 AM, does it matter that a coke that normally costs fifty cents will set you back three bucks? At $2.00AM when your mouth is dry and you’re thirsty for a cold drink, money is no object.
For many hotel brands and independent boutique properties, a hotel mini bar is a “must” in-room amenity. Guests expect it. Seasoned travelers expect them even more. Hotel mini bars have become a standard very much like flat panel TV’s. Event planners booking blocks of rooms will routinely ask if the Hotel is equipped with a hotel mini bar? The more amenities a hotel offers, the greater the perceived value by the guest and the more justified the room rate by the hotel.
Hotel Mini Bar Suppliers
In the eighties, there were over a dozen hotel mini bar suppliers. Today there are only four. Innovative Hospitality Concepts (IHC) is one of those four. Unlike any other hotel mini bar suppliers, IHC has set a new standard in the mini bar industry by combining aesthetics and technology. IHC has introduced new designs incorporating stainless steel, stained finishes, design accents, glass doors, logos all designed to integrate the bar with the overall guest room décor.
Hotel mini bar suppliers specializing in automated mini bars have for the past two decades relied upon using the hotel’s coax distribution network. Sharing the cable network with premium programming companies has always been an issue. Any signal interruptions would prevent mini bar charges from being posted to the guest folio. Signal interference, loss of power, etc.. presented challenges to hotel mini bar suppliers. Today the technology has improved dramatically. Hotel mini bars can communicate wirelessly via wifi or zigbee. Communication is fast, reliable and secure.
Hotel Mini Bar Products
Many hotels give very little thought to the hotel mini bar products. A common mistake is to buy a lot of inventory to try to cater to every guest preference. Buying a lot of inventory means that the hotel will be stuck for a long time with products that may not be in high demand. The key to a successful menu of hotel mini bar products is to stock the basic items that cater to the masses i.e… a cola, diet cola, orange juice, domestic and imported beers and of course the #1 product in any mini bar, water. Water alone accounts for 18% of total revenues. Products such as champagne and wine do not sell very quickly.
Snacks sell very well in a mini bar. Products such as chips, chocolates, cookies, nuts, trail mix etc..seem to have a loyal following amongst guests. There is also a demand for healthier snacks. Multi grain products, power bars, healthy shakes are gaining popularity.
Some hotels have elected to store personal items including toiletries (even condoms) monogrammed products with the hotel’s logo such as socks and other assorted items.
Hotel Mini Bar Refrigerator
A hotel has to do its utmost to please its guests which explains why many brands query their guests after their stay in a particular hotel. They want to make sure that you were pleased with the level of service, room amenities, restaurants, etc…and most importantly that you will return or recommend the brand to your relatives and friends.
Part of the guest’s experience is the hotel mini bar refrigerator. If the bar is not fully stocked or products are not rotated (first in, first out), or the beverages are not cold, the guest is likely to comment during his survey. The survey is a score card of the hotel’s performance during the guest’s stay. A negative comment on the GSI referred to as the “Guest Satisfaction Index” can impact management’s performance bonus at the local, regional and corporate levels.
Just like Houskeeping has to change the bed sheets, towels and overall cleaning of the rooms, the Mini Bar Department has to do its share. The hotel mini bar refrigerator has to be cleaned, fully stocked with products that are aligned with labels facing the front and of equal importance that the beverages are properly cooled. A warm beer or Coke will show up on the GSI.
Hotel Mini Bar Items
Hotel mini bar items have a performance rating. Automated mini bar systems grade such a performance by how many times the product turns over. The combination of volume and margin ranks every product in the mini bar. Amongst all hotel mini bar items, the #1 product that has consistently outperformed all others is water. It’s a confirmed fact that guests prefer water over all other beverages. Some hotels will stock twice as much water in the mini bar as other beverages because it satisfies guest demand and generates revenues. Water also has a long shelf life.
Amongst all hotel mini bar items that failed over the years were disposable cameras. Many hotels bought into the concept that disposable cameras would be a runaway best seller in the bar. In fact, it proved to be a dismal failure. Worst of all, due to its short shelf line, many hotels had to dump loads of inventory and take a write-off.
Hotel Mini Bar Supplies
Hotel mini bar supplies should include an ice bucket, napkins, glasses, flatware, plates, a corkscrew or bottle opener, etc..These tools are part of marketing the mini bar to the guest. What good does it do to offer a bottle of wine, if the guest does not have access to a corkscrew to open the bottle?
Hotel mini bar supplies are an invitation to your guests to use the mini bar. Many hotels require their bellman to automatically stock the ice bucket with ice upon checking in a guest to the room. Some hotels will include little stirrers for a guest to mix his own drinks.
In addition to providing Hotel mini bar supplies, many properties will use the in-house tv channel to promote the mini bar with “happy hours” and “two for one” specials.