R90 for a packet of crisps?! The real reason hotel mini bars are so expensive

2018-11-02 06:54 - Marisa Crous
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Outdoor mini bar in room

Outdoor mini bar in room

I once stayed at one of the best hotels in the country. Set in one of Johannesburg's very affluent areas, my exclusive hotel room was more like an apartment than a room. It was ginormous, kitted out with only the best of the best. 

And, of course, it had a mini bar stocked with artisan crisps, speciality products like kombucha, handmade fudge and many more delights. 

So, coming back from a work event the one evening I found myself a bit peckish and opted to indulge in a tiny packet of handmade crisps. I figured it couldn't be THAT expensive. (The mini bar price list is almost never available). 

But it was. Oh it was.

The three mouthfuls ended up costing me R90.

No lies. 

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Hotel mini bars are known for its exorbitant prices. A bottle of water could cost up to ten times more than it would in the supermarket, all in the name of convenience.

Much like airport prices, these high prices are charged, because essentially they can be charged. You're in your hotel room and don't want to go outside in your pyjamas, so grabbing something from the mini bar is ideal. 

Yet, Quora suggests that hotel mini bars are purposely stocked with pricey junk foods to lure you to the hotel's restaurants or to order room service instead as it'll make you crave 'real food'.

Another reason listed for these crazy price tags is that companies used to be much more generous with expense accounts for business travellers, and hotels capitalise on this. 

Thing is, mini bar profits are negligible at best, even despite the high prices. 

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Here's why:

According to Knowledge Stew, staff checking mini bars on a daily basis for items consumed by guests takes a lot of time. Imagine a hotel with over 200 rooms. If staff members spend 5 minutes checking each room's mini bar every day, it all adds up. So, hotels need to employ enough staff to ensure it has the capacity to check all the room daily. 

In the end, it's about offering convenience to a guest. And enticing the guest to visit the hotel's restaurants instead of it necessarily making the hotel a lot of profit - even if a Nespresso pod costs R40 and a Coke R50. 

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