Has Covid killed the hotel minibar? Or could those “overpriced honey traps” be making a comeback?
cans of coke for a fiver; $12 packs of pistachios or small pots of Pringles for €4 each. Half bottles of wine for €30.
oh, I’m not talking about our future cost of living. I’m talking about a tiny corner of the economy that’s already charging sledgehammer prices…the ones in your hotel room.
Minibars are part of the hotel customer. Notoriously expensive; notoriously hard to resist (late at night, who hasn’t cracked open a 50ml bottle that costs more than a book?).
Some enjoy the extravagance. Others are still afraid of the sky-high prices our parents warned us about when we were kids and have to walk miles to buy cheap drinks or snacks. And then there are the “minibar meddlers” who stock up in the shops.
The honey traps began, I know, in the 1960s, when Hilton claimed to have “globalized” the concept at its Hong Kong hotel a decade later.
Convenience, impulse buying, and exorbitant prices obviously made sense for sales, but it’s also true that managing minibars is labor-intensive and can cause frustration when customers are shocked at the checkout by bills.
In the 2010s, many hotels began downsizing or reconsidering them. Then came Covid. Due to security guidelines, many “touchpoints” have been removed from the rooms and I still find empty small fridges on my travels.
So is another pandemic tipping point imminent? Are minibars due for an overhaul?
The death of the minibar has of course been explained before – and Covid-cautious guests are more likely than less likely to be snacking in their rooms.
But hotels have dominion over in-room offerings — from allowing guests to take delivery, to adding corridor “galley” rooms and vending machines, to honesty bars, or offering healthier, pet-friendly, free, or more affordable options. For example, the “Hox Shop” in the Hoxton’s lobby sells beer, wine, or snacks at high-street prices (“no mega-minibar bills here!”).
Ireland’s Press-Up Group, which owns The Dean in Dublin, Cork and Galway, and Glasson Lakehousecombine a decent drinks menu with a ‘munchie box’ full of retro goodies like Tayto and Haribo jellies, as well as practical items like toothpaste and deodorant.
They’re more expensive than a regular store, but not enough to make you want to go to a regular store – say €2 for a pack of Tayto.
Other chains like Ace Hotels have switched to local products in minibars and retail.
A local beer, chocolate or recyclable Irish water, for example, says a lot more about a hotel and its community than a fridge full of overpriced generic goodies. It can also help tell a story about the destination by adding layers to a stay.
Not all diners want to experiment, though — many might prefer to grab a familiar box of M&Ms or a bottle of Heineken.
Personally, I like the idea of a little in-room shopping corner with a nice selection of local goodies and staples — adding interest at prices that don’t scare you away. Of course you would have to come up with a way to stop guests from stealing stuff!
Maybe there is life in the old minibar after all.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/has-covid-killed-the-hotel-minibar-or-could-these-overpriced-honey-traps-make-a-comeback-41454556.html Has Covid killed the hotel minibar? Or could those “overpriced honey traps” be making a comeback?