Pierre Hotel Boosts Profitability with Automatic Minibars

| October 14, 2011

One of the most luxurious hotels in New York City has experienced increased profitability and enhanced customer service capabilities as a direct result of installing Bartech’s automatic minibar products. The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, installed Bartech’s advanced automatic minibars in all of its 189 luxury guestrooms, following a $100 million top-to-bottom modernization of the iconic property alongside Central Park.

 
Bartech—Las Vegas-based provider of automatic profit-generating minibar solutions for the global hospitality industry—installed customized versions of its CH41 Side Dry 9 automatic minibars at The Pierre. Bartech offers a wide selection of customizable automatic minibars that are designed to maximize revenue and save hoteliers time and money through increased efficiency, and that is exactly what has happened at The Pierre.
 
Prior to the installation of Bartech’s automatic minibars, The Pierre’s self-service food and drink offerings amounted to an honor bar and a basket of snacks; both were labor-intensive to monitor and restock, and lost inventory and guest disputes were all too frequent. This method and the resulting guest-staff friction undermined the hotel’s sterling service culture. It also meant that the hotel was leaving profit on the table in the form of lost inventory, even as it preoccupied staff by wasting work hours manually checking minibars each day and restocking items.
 
By converting to automatic minibars, The Pierre has been able to reduce the number of minibar attendants on staff from four to two, reassigning them to other guest service tasks and trimming the number of work hours required within the hotel’s food and beverage department. On top of the payroll cost savings, the hotel also is on pace to take in approximately 10% more revenue this year than had initially been projected.
 
The Bartech automatic minibars are installed as part of a revenue-sharing agreement with The Pierre, requiring no up-front or maintenance costs for the hotel. The revenue-sharing deal includes a monthly profit ceiling after which point the hotel keeps 100% of the profits, and that ceiling has been exceeded nearly every month since implementation.
 
But the budgetary gains are only part of the Bartech story, says Jeffrey Mihalakis, director of food and beverage for The Pierre. “It was an issue of consistency of product—we didn’t have it before installing Bartech’s automatic minibars—and it was very labor-intensive and tedious to have to check the stock in each guestroom each day. We knew there had to be a better way,” Mihalakis says. “We looked to Bartech because of its flexible and customizable design—they were the only vendor that was really willing to work with us to customize the product however we wanted it.”
 
The automatic minibar as customized for The Pierre includes a special frosted glass door engraved with The Pierre’s logo. The minibars were installed inside bespoke credenzas at the hotel’s request.
 
Besides adapting the design of the automatic minibars to meet The Pierre’s specific requirements, Bartech also gave the hotel the ability to adjust the product’s sensors to be as strict or as forgiving as management deems appropriate. “We realize that sometimes guests may pick up an item and then put it back shortly after, and we don’t want to charge them for that, obviously. But when we looked at other minibar vendors, they had no flexibility—the sensor would record the charge after X seconds, and that’s it,” Mihalakis says. “Bartech, on other hand, lets us set the sensor delay anywhere from five to 60 seconds. That freedom and flexibility to operate the product the way we see fit was a big deal for us.”
 
The only minibar provider to offer fully customizable design, Bartech offers a choice of five methods of server communication for its automatic minibars. At The Pierre, the automatic minibars run on a standalone ZigBee wireless network that was developed in-house by Bartech. Hotels can also choose from WiFi, coax cable, twisted pair and Ethernet communication. There is also a choice of three different types of sensor technologies—infrared, magnetic and micro-switch—ensuring that all inventory is accounted for regardless of size, weight or type of packaging.

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