Hotels use sensors to bill for uneaten snacks, hit guests with unexpected charges

Most consumers know that if they drink anything from the minibar in their hotel room, they'll be charged. But did you know some hotels now automatically charge your bill if you as much as touch the snack tray — even if you don't eat anything?


Automated minibars with sensors and snack trays with built-in electronic scales are now common practice at hotels, including HiltonInterContinental,DoubleTree and Sheraton. But a slew of complaints in hotel reviews online reveal consumers still get taken by surprise when they discover "incidental" charges on their bill for food they never consumed.

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As Americans move away from traditional meal occasions, snacking more throughout the day, consumers are seeking healthier snacking options. New research from Mintel reveals that three in four (73 percent) consumers are willing to pay extra for snacks made with high quality ingredients. Further evidence of their desire for healthful foods, half (50 percent) of consumers say healthier snacks would motivate them to buy more from specialty snack shops.

60% of Americans visit snack shops on a mission to treat themselves

 With snacking now ubiquitous, more than three in five (64 percent) consumers agree that snacking is necessary to get through the day, including 77 percent of Millennials, who are the most likely generation to visit specialty snack shops (85 percent vs 68 percent of consumers overall). And while 60 percent of Americans visit snack shops on a  mission to treat themselves, Millennials are more likely to be motivated by healthy snack options (68 percent). What’s more, an extra boost of energy is also a motivator for Millennials as two in five (38 percent) dine at snack shops for energy compared to one quarter (27 percent) of consumers overall.

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The trends that are shaping hotel F&B

Hoteliers are inventing new F&B concepts to boost their top and bottom lines as guests’ desires evolve.

By  Terence Baker


NASHVILLE, Tennessee—The explosion of grab-and-go offerings, the emergence of cold-brew coffee and the inclusion of gluten-free options are three of the biggest food-and-beverage trends in hotels, according to sources.

At a session titled “Feeding the F&B frenzy” at the 2016 Hotel Data Conference, panelists said other F&B trends taking hold at the property level include healthy menus, all-natural ingredients and guests preferring quick snacks to sit-down meals. Jim Ries, corporate director of banquets and catering for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group, described the expansion of grab-and-go food options as the “Uber effect,” referring to the global ride-sharing app.

“Research has shown guests are willing to pay a 13% premium for such offerings,” Ries said. “Snacks are the new meals.”

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