Environmental Impact of Hotel Minibars
Anyone who has stayed in a hotel will be able to attest to the fact that hotel minibar offerings, be it a simple packet of pretzels or a small bottle of vodka, come at daylight robbery prices. No one enjoys paying $4.00 for a KitKat bar when the very same snack can be bought at the supermarket for significantly less money.
In order to convince hotel guests that the minibar offers items worth the exorbitant charge, it was reported in May that there was a trend in hotels offering locally made snacks (kettle cooked potato chips and artisan pop corn) and beverages (micro-breweries, locally bottled spring water) that are not available in chain stores. Such a move reduces carbon footprint by sourcing locally.
Another trend, however, is now emerging. Hotels are ditching the physicality of the minibar and making snacks and drink visible without the use of a refrigerator, leaving the refrigerator empty for guests to fill up with whatever they have brought with them or purchased outside their hotel rooms.
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts is eliminating stocked minibars from its convention hotels. The hotel now sells snacks and fresh foods in its lobbies. Hilton and Omni are making similar changes. This makes sense because it is the most cost-effective way to offer a convenience for guests without jacking up the cost of operation or the environmental costs of wastage.
The decision to remove the contents of minibars and displaying food and beverages in plain sight works by way of visual appeal. How many of us don't think to eat a chocolate bar (or any snack you fancy) until we see someone else eating it or when we see if laying around? By displaying alcoholic, sugary and salty temptations in plain view of hotel guests, in-room product sales have surged 32%. This makes an excellent example of "suggestive selling" and hotel guests need to be aware that the hotel management have thoughtfully crafted the rhetorical context to get them to consume.
To diversify the source of revenue, hotels are even offering non-food items such as Zagat guides. Ace Hotel offers Polaroid cameras in its minibars! Enchantment Resort and Spa offers baseball caps and full-size bottles of the resort's bath products.
Why the continuous reinvention of the hotel minibar?
First of all, stocking, restocking, and checking the minibar is labor intensive because it has to be done every day. Beyond keeping the minibar stocked, charging for minibar items has often lead to disputes about who ate or drank what.Continued on the next page