|"Fun" M&Ms at Kimpton Hotels|
I read a WSJ article about mini bars on the way to Los Angeles (summarized in this video) so I was curious to see what Kimpton Hotels has decided to do about this vexing issue. Turns out they've gone the obfuscation route, meaning they've substituted well-known brands with obscure ones which look more premium and perhaps worthy of their breathtaking price. So, instead of Evian or Aquafina, there's Fred Water at $8.00 and there are other products with no easy reference at all, like a Kopali Organic Mango snack for $7.00. (By the way, the Kimpton prices are nowhere near as bad as some other places.)
But what about those must-have products, of which one of the mustest-have of all is M&Ms? No substitutes allowed! The clever idea from Kimpton is to repackage/resize them and sell them in a resealable pouch bag, called 'Fun' so that the $7.00 price looks kinda/sorta justified.
Other hotels are trying different strategies--some have given up the fight completely, either taking out their mini-bars or leaving them empty for guests to stock themselves. Others are using technology to escalate the battle with their guests, installing fully automatic mini bars that monitor and track guests as if they are on some FBI list. And others (including Kimpton) are trying to lure their guests to buy more by strategically placing baskets of snacks and bottles of wine in easy reach.
From a brand perspective, mini bars are nothing but trouble--what consumers expect (all their favorite snacks and drinks at cheap prices) seems to be more than the business realities of hotels allows them to provide. (Apparently, mini-bars generally lose money, even with prices as high as they are.) This appears to be a no-win encounter where the Kimpton strategy is about as good as it get in terms of damage limitation.
Anyone got any bright ideas about a better approach?