Travel briefs

 

Lodging

Hotel mini-bars losing their appeal

Is it time to say goodbye to the hotel mini bar?

A recent survey by the travel website TripAdvisor.com found that the hotel mini bar was the least important amenity for U.S. travelers. Only 21 percent of travelers ranked the mini bar as an important amenity, compared to 89 percent who called free in-room wireless the most important.

There is little financial reason to keep mini bars. Hotel consulting firms estimate that mini bars generate no more than 0.24 percent of total hotel revenue, with much of that eaten up by the cost to check and restock the bars.

Companies that build and sell automated mini bars that electronically charge guests when a drink or snack is removed from the bar say they can cut the labor costs up to 60 percent. Still, industry experts say mini bars won’t be around for long.

Many hotels don’t offer them because of the hassle of restocking and the disputes with guests over mini bar fees, said Lynn Mohrfeld, president of the California Hotel and Lodging Association.

“They are a very difficult amenity to manage,” he said.

But the future of mini bars is bleak mostly because of social trends that have pushed travelers into the lobbies to socialize and surf the Web, instead of sitting alone in their rooms, said David Corsun of the Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver.

It’s the same reason some hotels are eliminating room service and beefing up the food and drink offerings in the lobby, Corsun said.

“People are migrating out of their rooms rather than being in the rooms,” he said.

Air travel

Delays decline,

but there’s a catch

Airline delays and cancellations have dropped significantly in the last few years. At least that’s what federal statistics show. But the numbers may not be telling us the whole story.

That is one of the conclusions in a new report by the office of inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which recommends new ways of calculating airline delays.

The DOTs data show that airline delays fell 33 percent from 2000 to 2012, while flight cancellations dropped 56 percent at the nation’s largest airports.

The problem with the numbers, according to the inspector general, is that the DOT looks at flight data only from the 16 largest airlines.

Another reason the numbers don’t give an exact picture, the report says, is that most airlines have increased scheduled gate-to-gate time for nearly every flight, giving themselves a cushion to absorb delays.

Airlines say that they don’t inflate the scheduled flight time to avoid delays but try to be realistic about the time each flight needs.

Miami Herald

wire services

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