Buyout (Pre-Pay) of the Mini Bar – Hilton

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  SwissExPat 9 Dec 2019
at 15:26
.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)

  • SwissExPat
    Participant

    Using the handy Hilton iphone app, I have just booked a 2 night stay in a main German city, staying at the main Hilton in the Centre.

    I booked one of the better rooms (Studio on 2 levels) (am not sure this influences the following)

    On the App, I hit the “Apply for upgrade” just to see what was on offer and I found something I never saw before.

    “Free Minibar” was the offer and I could purchase this upgrade for €29 rather than the “Full” price of €49. The T&C noted that this did not include a refil.

    Has anyone hade experience of this before? I am slighlty wary because I have seend minibars before that were “stocked to the gills” and some more meagre efforts. ALso I am wondering if there may be some “moral hazard” in the hotel maybe not including higher end beverage offerings (e.g champagne or decent wines)

    All told, I am probably going to give it a whirl.


    BugAdvisor
    Participant

    A friend of mine took his elderly Father to a high-end hotel. His Father, not used to staying in such places, commented on the mini-bar. Not wanting to make his father fearful of helping himself to the odd snack or drink, my friend palmed the price list and announced that it was free.

    Leaving the hotel a few days later, my friend picked up his Father’s bag, now heavier and clinking. The Father had completely emptied the mini bar each day with the intention of distributing small bottles to his friends back home!


    Tom Otley
    Keymaster

    I can feel an article coming on….

    I often take the price lists from mini bars so I can compare and contrast the various prices. Anecdotes like this will make a marvellous piece.

    I have never heard of an optional upgrade of a free mini bar…. and in these more ‘responsible’ times as well… Wonderful!

    In W Hotels (and others) the mini bar also includes adult items….

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Ahmad
    Participant

    One of the advantages of SCC Ambassador status was that the minibar at Intercontinental hotels was complementary. Being a teetotaller I always had the alcohol removed which invariably meant it was filled to the brim with all sorts of extra soft drinks and mixers which I greatly enjoyed, especially when in tropical locations like Singapore and the ME.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    In W Hotels (and others) the mini bar also includes adult items….

    What ‘Adult Item’ – could possibly be kept in a mini bar fridge – or have I just led a sheltered life?

    For the record, the quote came from our learned Editor, Tom, not Ahmad, as the header appears to indicate


    Ahmad
    Participant

    Gremlins at work on the Forum again?


    Tom Otley
    Keymaster

    Definitely. Sorry about that.

    I use mini bar in the widest term, as items available for purchase on top of it as well, including full bottles of wine etc…


    Ahmad
    Participant

    It’s been so long since I lost my Royal Ambassador status on the SCC successor scheme that I have forgotten whether it was just the drinks or the whole minibar which was complementary.

    An anecdote for your consideration Tom. Many years ago I stayed at the then newly opened Banyan Tree at Bangkok with my own family and my wife’s nieces. The minibar was complementary on the executive floor. I forgot to mention it to the young ladies that only the drinks were free. As we were leaving the concierge came to the hotel limousine saying I had a phone call at his desk. It was the executive floor reception asking whether to charge the edibles from the minibar to my credit card or whether I would like to return them. Apparently, totally unbeknown to us, the nieces, on finding out that the minibar was complementary had decided to empty the entire contents into their hand luggage just before leaving their room which was well after I had settled the bill!


    Jacob
    Participant

    In some of their rooms in a Van der Valk hotels in the Netherlands is the minibar included, that includes beer wine and soft drinks


    RichardB
    Participant

    When I stayed at the A Loft in Kuala Lumpur they had a free mini bar (refilled every day) but it was not massively stocked, a couple of cans of soft drink, some of fruit juice, two small bottles of beer and some crunch bars. This is the only time I have taken things from the mini bar though, since otherwise the prices are ridiculous and aimed at half-drunk business travellers who are too lazy to visit shops outside the hotel.
    In the case of advance payment for a mini bar full of products I would want to see a photo of what’s inside before paying.


    cwoodward
    Participant

    I use hotel mini- bars from time to time mostly for the odd bag of crisps or a beer and sometimes for a glass of wine if it is decent and not astronomically priced. These days decent bottled water is normally supplied FOC I find
    In my experience 3-4 star chain properties tend to stock the MB with proprietary brands which if the prices are very inflated I replace what I have used in an evening with the same product from a local shop. Perhaps not playing the game but as no on gains or loses I see no harm. Do others do the same ?
    Our company is not in the hotel industry but we have had hotel chains as customers for many years and over time I have gathered some insights into hotel and F&B operations.
    An interesting question to be posed is.’are mini-bars operated primarily as a guest service or as a profit centre’?
    Others here will I am sure be able to give us the answer but my take is that in a lot of 3 and 4 properties the mini-bar operation is at best a break-even one once the pilfering, servicing and capital costs of the refrigerators are taken into account. Thus probably loss making a guest service which perhaps is why an increasing number of these properties provide a small, but empty refrigerator.
    Well run 5 star properties I find have a much slicker operation that offers a more exotic up-market selection ( that cannot be replaced from the local supermarket) and often decent full bottles of wine with prices that are often reasonable for the service offered. Room service will normally provide ice as needed FOC.
    Do these type of properties make a profit on the MB operation? I am not sure and it would perhaps be interesting to get a view from industry professionals


    AFlyingDutchman
    Participant

    @cwoodward, the simple answer is No, Mini Bar’s are often not a great profit center. It really depends on the location and as already mentioned by yourself and others, the products on offer. Guests have gotten into the habit of believeing they can deny using the minibar almost religiously, even for automated minibars, stating they moved some items to place their own thing in, medicines, etc. Many of our hotels have actually removed the contents from minibars and have placed a menu card which can be filled in and left at reception. The minibar will be filled with the guest’s order and charged whether consumed or not. This seems to work well in some markets.

    Pricing is the challenge and in numerous cities the pricing is simply absurd. In NYC to pay in excess of 8 to 12 USD for a can of coke is normal in minibars as an example. The reason for the poor margins is that minibars need to be checked daily if not automated, and then even for the automated one, items need to be checked as they do expire (Diet coke for instance has an incredibly short shelf life versus its non Diet compatriot). This means additional staffing whether you have room attendants doing the checking, rooms service, or a minibar department. On the whole, if your MB is producing a profit in excess of 10% you are doing well, most hotels break even with MB’s and look at them as a guest expectation. As Tom alluded to in his comment, and for reference, one of the most often purchased items and profitable one are condoms. These are rarely denied at check out, and the mark up on them is impressive. At one of our hotels, the only place they could place them was in the fridge itself, so some advance planning would certainly be required. 🙂

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    TominScotland
    Participant

    I have just spent a fabulous 5 days at Grootbos, near Gransbaai in the Western Cape, an experience that combines conservation and luxury in all facets of what they do in the 3,000 hectares or so of Fynbos that they manage. The maxi-bar in each cottage (it is not mini by any stretch) is complementary and refilled daily during your stay – fine Cape wines and ‘champagne’, spirits, beers etc.

    I could (maybe should) write a full hardback-length review of this amazing place which I would strongly recommend adding to anyone’s bucket list of places to visit.

    PS. The whales were just amazing when we went out…..


    NNoah16
    Participant

    A few hotel chains in Germany / Belgium have room types that include a free minibar restocked daily (e.g. Accor privilege rooms) but its really basic soft drinks a couple beers and 2 little snacks (toblerone / peanuts). Minibar not included if you get an upgrade though…


    capetonianm
    Participant

    I have been extremely wary of minibars since, years ago, falling into the trap of taking a couple of cans of beer from one in a hotel in MUC and putting in two I had purchased in a shop. I was then going to replace the hotel’s cans in due course.

    What I didn’t know was that lifting the flap to remove the two cans triggered a charge, and lifting it again to replace the hotel’s two cans triggered another charge. I therefore was charged on check-out for 4 beers when in fact I’d consumed none of the hotel’s!

    Fortunately the gentleman on duty saw the funny side of it (who said the Germans/Bavarians don’t have a sense of humour?) and reversed the charge. And I never even mentioned the war.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
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