Is this the death of the minibar?

The minibar could soon be absent from many hotels due to the digitisation of guest services being fast-tracked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a hospitality expert.

The need to maximise safety amid the pandemic has already spawned many new requirements of travel, from obligatory mask wearing to temperature checks, mandatory quarantines and, soon enough, vaccine passports.

As these fresh facets of travel emerge, old elements are disappearing. Some Australian hotels have got rid of their in-room minibars. When I recently stayed at Perth’s Crowne Plaza Hotel I found that my room’s small fridge was not stocked with the range of drinks and snacks I had come to expect at such a four-star hotel.

The minibar had been replaced by room service. This will become commonplace across Australian hotels, according to an expert in tourism and the digital economy, Dr Mingming Cheng, from Curtin University.

“Now with the pandemic, people are concerned with safety and hygiene, and the minibar needs to be changed every day so that means cleaners or staff need to come in and check the minibar,” Dr Cheng said. “Hotels prefer not to have that extra time of staff in the rooms because of safety in the pandemic and also because it costs them.”

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