Minibar inventory control and billing go mobile

This article is part two of a two-part series on the hotel minibar. The first part appeared earlier this week.

Mobile apps also are giving minibar managers and attendants new ways to control inventory and manage billing.

“The idea of having a mobile application is to facilitate all the daily tasks of the minibar attendant,” said Christelle Pigeat, CEO and VP of sales and marketing at minibar solutions provider Mobile Simple. Managing minibars through a mobile device allows attendants to keep their hands free most of the time for working with stock, Pigeat said.

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Additionally, functions like one-click posting, expiration date tracking and dynamic room dispatch improves workflow by speeding up the process it takes to refill a minibar and ensuring that attendants only visit minibars that require action.

“We’ve moved everything over to mobile,” said Walt Strasser, EVP at Minibar Systems. Originally, in many systems attendants used a handheld unit to track workflow, but now the company offers a browser-based solution.

“Rather than being an app based on a tablet, we’ve made it browser-based on the tablet,” said Strasser. A browser-based solution does not have to be specific to one mobile operating system, and it is easier to add functionality, Strasser said.

“We use a cloud-based application, so hotels can just download and subscribe,” said Michele Crociani, business development manager, hospitality division at refrigeration systems company Indel B.

Managing minibars through mobile devices in this way also allows companies to continue building in business intelligence functions.

“Hotels can get a big advantage in terms of pricing,” said Crociani. “They can track immediately what products were the best-sellers and what products produced the most revenue.”

At the same time, mobile solutions need to be designed to take into account all the minor operational factors that can happen when restocking a minibar.

“If we go to a room and charge a guest for a Coke, and the attendant doesn’t have a Coke to refill, what happens when a second attendant goes and charges again?” said Strasser. “You have to account for all of the what-if scenarios.”