The next time you check-in to a hotel, don’t go to your room hungry unless you’d like to order pizza in. The latest hotel trend means no more minibars in the rooms. In addition, there’s a growing trend to eliminate room service. New York City’s largest hotel, the 2,000-room New York Hilton was the first big city hotel to close down their room service in August 2013, creating a lot of attention in the hotel industry. Travelers certainly noticed, too, especially business travelers, who may be among the few who can stomach putting a $30 salad and a $10 coffee on an expense account.
Fast food delivery
Anyone glancing up and down the hotel hallways can see stacked take-away bags and empty pizza boxes outside guest rooms. Perhaps that’s the simplest way to conduct a survey about consumer preferences. New to this town? It doesn’t matter. With plenty of phone apps available, it’s easy to get in touch with the nearest Domino’s or Chinese take-away for delivery.
You may love or hate those in-room minibars tucked under the counter in hotel rooms. Love them for when you’re desperate for a thirst-quencher, but hate them for peddling overpriced $5 bottles of water. Love them for midnight snacks, but hate them for the temptation of reaching for a $8 bag of peanut M&Ms. And most annoying of all, is the inconvenient knock on the door by the mini-bar inspector. Not to mention the incorrect charges that mysteriously appear on your bill at check-out when you’ve steadfastly avoided breaking the seal to open your mini-bar. All that is about to change.
TripAdvisor has conducted a survey of 1,600 hotel travelers which indicates that 33 percent “steer clear” of the minibar due to exorbitant prices. With 16 percent reporting they’ve been charged for simply shuffling items around, 21 percent of travelers say they wouldn’t mind if the minibar were removed.
According to Smart Hospitality News and other lodging industry trade journals, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are removing minibars from hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms in tens of thousands of properties. The minibars are costly to service. Some chains are planning to leave the small fridges cooling but empty and sell snacks from lobby shops instead. Some suggest that travelers could order the items they’d like to have stocked in advance of check-in, creating more personalized service and better revenue for hotels.
Get it yourself
The blow of the New York Hilton’s announcement was softened by Hilton food and beverage executives saying that guests would be offered alternatives such as a casual dining spot in the hotel offering take-away, as well as the lobby bar. Let’s hope that in-room tea and coffeemakers don’t disappear. Interestingly enough, the number one seller from minibars is bottled water, followed by Diet Coke. Pringles and nuts rank high from the snack section, so perhaps you should bring your own. You’ve got to pack food for the plane these days, anyway.