The hotel minibar, once an industry standard, is the altar where bad decisions consecrate. Customers resent them because $10 for a bottle of Coke is obviously a rip-off; hotels hate them because enforcing their inventory is near impossible. (The last thing a hotel will do is accuse you of lying over a bag of Lays.)
And the fact of the matter is they just don’t make much money, exorbitant prices or not. In a tweet that has since been deleted by CBNC reporter Carl Quintanilla, Marriott CEO Arne M. Sorenson said the chain doesn’t profit from the minibar.
The amenity is on the decline. Chains like Hilton and Starwood are slowly phasing mini-fridges full of booze and snacks out, leaving them for guests to fill themselves.
“It’s a trend for them to be removed,” Melvin Gold, a hotel industry consultant, told the Independent last year. “It’s being stopped in the better hotels. They don’t want the hassle. Minibars were once a source of profit, but they were just too difficult to police. Prices were high because staffing costs were high.”
The shift, while not entirely unexpected, has been staggering. Revenue from minibars fell 28% from 2007 to 2012, according to PKC Hospitality Research. And that means the minibar is quickly joining a club occupied by hotel porn and in-room phone calls: once-decent revenue streams that aren’t likely to come back.