Hotels See Minibar Profits in Beauty Products

Skift Take

The hotel minibar is becoming a stale concept. So substituting beer and chips for self-care alternatives has a promising trajectory.

Carley Thornell

The soaring number of hotel facelifts aren’t the only cosmetic upgrades these days. Mini bars are getting in on the makeover game by offering beauty products in the spots formerly occupied by chips and beer.

Exhibit A: Equinox Hotels in New York City has created RoomBar, a one-stop shop for beauty products and nutritional supplements in guest rooms — with a selection of up to 80 items that also includes standard snacks and beverages.

Beauty products account for approximately 60% of RoomBar revenue, said Ara Patterson, vice president of food and beverage and spa at Equinox Hotels.

“The revenue generated by beauty products in the RoomBar has now matched the revenue of food and beverage retail, making them equally significant,” Patterson said, adding that RoomBar generates an average monthly revenue of approximately $55,000.

Equinox has a deal with New York City-based plastic surgeon Lara Devgan to offer a facial at its spa. Products from the luxury French skincare brand Biologique Recherche are available in the spa and RoomBar.

Pampered Nights In

Other properties like the boutique Jasper Hotel in Fargo, North Dakota — which doesn’t have a spa — are dedicating some of the space that had been used for alcohol to relax opportunities with local angles.

“My job is to have a keen focus on the guest experience and how we can bring that local feel into our four walls, and collaborate with other local businesses,” said Emily Olsen, director of lifestyle. “We wanted this to be about not just one product, but experiences.”

Olsen partnered with a Fargo med spa for a co-branded kit that uses Eminence products. The minibar Prairie Glow kit has multiple steps with detailed instructions.

At $30 per kit, it’s also less expensive for guests than a traditional trip to the spa.

In Austin, Hyatt’s The Thompson experience has taken one step further by making wellness upsells available for online ordering by scanning QR codes. The hotel offers a Seven-Minute Makeover Mask from Skin Authority in the mini bar for $15. In each of its suites, there’s an ATX Chill Skin Kit with a higher price point that includes a QR code with access to a pre-recorded instructional video. A coach walks guests step-by-step through the facial process, or there’s access to a live personal instruction session from the Skin Authority.

“Austin is such a party city, it made sense to do some sort of ‘detox’-like mask,” said Thompson managing director Nate Hardesty, who launched the mini bar beauty program when the hotel opened last spring.

The reaction has been positive and the hotel is considering putting other beauty products and complete skin kits in all room categories. But Hardesty wants to collect more data on sales before making what he considers a “significant investment.” Hardesty and his team think there’s a sweet spot in terms of approachable prices for mini bar extras like beauty products. That sweet spot likely hovers around the $15 range.

With a pack of chocolate peanut candy pushing $8 in many hotels, just a few dollars more isn’t a hard sell for an experience, said Equinox’s Patterson.

Miriam Lieberman-Alicea, director of spas for Casa Ciprani in New York City, said she saw a mini beauty bar as an upsell opportunity for her on-site spa. Casa Ciprani’s pilot in-room program rolled out with a mask and a travel-sized detox brightening eye rollerball oil chilled in the fridge to cool down puffy areas.

Recently introduced QR codes enhance the program by introducing the beauty brands used, and spa specialists that personalize and humanize the experience, Lieberman-Alicea said. Guests who have tried the oil in their room might be intrigued by its inclusion in the spa’s grow-and-glow facial, and are more likely to pay a visit.

The success of mini bar beauty may ultimately be up to guests with higher budgets and a specific persona. A night at Casa Ciprani goes for $600 plus, while Tommie Austin is $200 for the same time frame.

When Tommie Austin opened alongside the Thompson last year, there were traditional dorm refrigerators with snacks and drinks for purchase. But guests were pulling out the contents to put in their own tips and leftovers, creating clutter and more work for housekeeping, said Hardesty. It made sense to remove products altogether “to give guests more space,” said Hardesty.

Hotels caught in a similar crunch might be better off using the same approach as the Bankside Hotel London. Each room has an energy-efficient mini fridge, and each floor has what general manager Philip Steiner and his team named the Bankside Boutique. Guests can choose from a variety of Charlotte Tilbury face masks — and champagne for the ultimate treat-yourself experience.

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