It is a widely known fact that hotels charge insane mark-ups on the items in their mini-bar. Leveraging on its convenience factor, hoteliers often try to milk more profits from a hungry traveller. But how much are hoteliers ACTUALLY earning from their mini-bar?
We compared the price of the minibar at Marriott Hotel in Singapore, with the price of the same product sold in a supermarket to identify the items with the highest and smallest markups.
The price of convenience revealed.
The list below shows most of the items stored in Marriott Hotel’s mini-bar. We discovered that alcohol products are the best value items as they bear the smallest mark ups.
In Marriott Hotel’s mini bar, a 500ml bottle of Carlsberg costs $7.50. Meanwhile, Giant Supermarket sells the same can of beer at $4.85 each. Hence, you are paying 1.55x more by drinking out of the mini-bar.
In contrast, everyday items like soda, water and snacks have the greatest mark ups. For instance, a can of Pepsi from the mini bar costs $4. At NTUC Fairprice, each can only cost 0.60 cents each in a pack of 6. For the same can of Pepsi, hotel mini-bars charge 6.67x higher than what you would find in your nearby supermarket.
Don’t even think about touching that
However, the most outrageous price markup would be on the can of Pringles. For a 37g of Pringles, Marriott charges a price tag of $3.25. At Giant Supermarket, a 147g of Pringles only costs $2.70. In other words, you can get 4x more chips at a cheaper price tag.
Why the different treatment?
There are 2 possible reasons why hotels slap on significantly higher price tags for some products, while charging lower markups on others.
- Snacks and water are considered necessities. Travellers can do without alcohol, but they cannot live with hunger and thirst! Hence, hoteliers justify their high prices with the greater demand and need for snacks and water.
- Everyday items like snacks and water have lower profit margins. This encourages hoteliers to charge a higher markup to reap higher margins per product. On the other hand, each bottle of alcohol offers higher profit margins.
With this knowledge in mind, here are some tips to ensure that you won’t get ripped off:
- Keep this general rule in mind: Avoid the mineral water and snacks from the mini-bar. Instead, do your own research to look for the nearest supermarket in your area. This way, you can make your purchases there before you head back to your hotel after a day of touring the city. With a bag full of value-for-money goodies, this also ensures that you will not be tempted to reach out for the snacks in the mini-bar!
- If you are willing to pay a slightly higher price tag, the alcohol drinks are usually the most value-for-money items in your mini-bar.
- If you don’t want to pay for anything, don’t touch anything. Some mini-bars have built-in sensors that detect any movements or tampering of the items in your mini-bar. Thus, you may be charged for the items even if you did not consume anything!
The rise and fall of the mini-bar
In today’s hotel industry, the hotel mini-bar should be considered a relic of the past. With easy access to supermarkets and convenience stores, travellers should be well-informed of the exhorbitant charges they are accruing to their vacation expenses.
With this knowledge, perhaps you should start planning how to sneak your favorite local goodies into your hotel room!