Thinking Outside the Fridge
How automation is disrupting the minibar.
In the past few years, how minibars store and track items has changed—smart systems that use infrared or water sensors to monitor their contents are now common—but how guests interact with the snacks and drinks inside has remained largely the same. Recently, however, brands have begun to think bigger.
Take Plum, which aims to improve in-room beverage options with its automatic wine dispenser. “The wait time for room service and the stigma of low-quality minibar wine have made it difficult for hoteliers to elevate wine by the glass in the guest room,” says Adam Hoydysh, the company’s director of hotel sales. With the Plum dispenser, guests can drink high-quality wine by the glass. The dispenser uses argon gas to preserve open bottles for up to 90 days, helping to cut costs and prevent waste. A cooling system chills any varietal to its ideal serving temperature. A touch screen displays information about the available wines; each machine holds two bottles.
Other properties have stopped stocking alcohol in-room in favor of directing guests to an automated lobby bar. In Arosa, Switzerland, Valsana Hotel recently debuted self-serve wine and liquor on tap in the lobby. By swiping a room key, guests can pour a glass to enjoy in the lounge or at the restaurant, or even take up to their room. Three pour sizes are available, which means that users can opt for just a taste. “Our guests tend to look at it as a toy at the beginning of their vacation, but by the end they appreciate the benefits of sampling wine they would’ve never tried before, without the hassle,” says Leo Maissen, chief development officer at Tschuggen Hotel Group, which operates Valsana. “It enhances the overall experience for guests and is a fun addition to their vacation.”
Image credit: courtesy of Plum