technology, hospitality, and plumbing…

Hotel Minibar: Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day

In General on September 15, 2010 at 18:01

Dirty HarryChecking into a hotel yesterday, the guy on the desk informed me that the minibar was “pressure-sensitive“, so if you took something out and then put it back, you’d still be charged. I mean, what next, you open the door and the minibar points a Magnum in your face, saying “Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day” in its best Dirty Harry voice? I understand that they want to maximise revenue, and people regularly use the minibar and refill at 7-11, but surely it’s not come to this? Remember, before wifi became the number one gripe for travelers, minibars were the topic of the day. Innovative hotels, mostly in the USA, were even emptying their minibars so that guests could chill their own drinks. In the end i was too scared to open the door (although the tariff sheet was enough to scare me off).

Anyone seen this before?

  1. Came across this very concept at a Hilton Hotel – now that does not promote good feelings!

  2. Wow that’s crazy! And what a negative thing to present to a guest on check-in!
    I totally understand hotels trying to think of ways to create additional revenue, after all, if you go back 10 years, the charges hotels made for phone calls was a huge revenue stream that’s never really been replaced (some are trying by charging high wi-fi charges). But this mini-bar experience is taking this too far. Name and shame!

    • Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. I have to say though, it was the quickest checkout process i’ve had at a hotel, and i’m sure that not having to check the minibar was a part of it.

      Still a bit of a shock though!

  3. Hi,

    I have seen this method before in multiple hotels in Budapest – where I live – and found it very disturbing.
    As a hotel general manager, I think it it is very short sighted to punish every one for the “crimes” of a few people.
    I found a completely different approach at a very lovely hotel in Vienna. An honour bar in the lobby where you can just write down your consumption. it creates an atmosphere of mutual trust, where i think the risk of loosing out on a few extra euros is clearly outweighted by the increase in guets satisfction – this hotel is in the 5-6th place on tripadvisor out of 300 + hotels…..

  4. Robert, i agree, this kind of approach builds trust with the guest, and the negatives (people being dishonest) are balanced by the positives — not just guest satisfaction, but the reduced cost of not needing to police the minibars.

  5. This method is actually really efficient in many aspects for hotels.
    Housekeeping save considerable minutes checking the mini bar. Mini bar service will only come to the rooms where minibar needs to be refiled and billing is much easier. The startup cost might be pretty high but ROI pretty fast provided the hotel is a big entity.
    I think that this method allows to control better the revenue and stocks and it’s a good way to study statistics of consumption habits… If there’s a yield management for mini bar consumption, this is the ultimate tool!

    • Yes, that’s true, a good point, it’s good for the hotel, but I think it’s a short term benefit, the hotel should think of the customer first. It’s similar to wifi, some hotels may be excellent at maximising the ROI from selling wifi access, but ultimately they could lose the business of customers who object to paying.

  6. I see the point of what Cazenave says. But I think this view can only be applied to the kind of budget hotels where the emphasis is (sadly) not on hospitality, but on providing the cheapest and most “streamlined” service possible.
    For hotels who would like to emphasize on guest experience this, in my opinion, is not the way to go.
    I do not think Hilton should only listen to “accountants” when making such decisions.

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