Global minibar manufacturer Minibar Systems has updated its SmartCube collection, which now includes a traditional minibar and a combination minibar-fridge known as the SmartCube DualBar.
Considered by the company as the “world’s most technologically advanced minibar,” the SmartCube line allows for real-time online communications via WiFi to and from the hotel’s property management system (PMS).
“Everything is tracked, including inventory, attendant productivity, guest usage statistics and even the door opening and closing times,” said Walt Strasser, EVP, Minibar Systems, whose U.S. office is located in Rockville, MD. “If a guest leaves the door open for any reason, it will alert the screen in the minibar manager’s office. Attendants use WiFi tablets to quickly know what rooms need restocking and what items to take to the rooms. It’s very labor friendly.”
The new version of the SmartCube collection—which is available in models SC-40 (standard minibar) and GF-27 (DualBar)—features many technical and design changes from the previous version. Both versions are now plug-and-play.
“Everything is easy to maintain because the parts change out easily,” said Strasser. “Our largest client hotel engineers asked for this, and we listened and changed the design. The DualBar’s exterior design looks like a flat-screen TV with full glass door and fits any room decor now. Also, we now use the eco-friendly Thermoelectric cooling system, which uses no chemicals and is totally green and operates quietly and efficiently.”
The SmartCube is available as a 16-in. x 23-in. minibar only, which has a capacity of 40 liters and the 28-in. X 23-in. DualBar, with a 40-liter minibar and 27-liter fridge.
The DualBar solves a problem that hotels outfitted with the traditional “grab-and-charge” minibar have had.
“Most hotels experience a lot of operational disruption because guests always put personal items inside a minibar,” said Strasser. “It is even more problematic with an automated minibar because guests move items from the sensors, charging themselves and then put their personal items inside, making more work at the front desk to issue credit for all those products moved off the sensors. The DualBar solves that problem because guests have their own personal-use fridge section to use.”
The SmartCube products run on a network server program called S4, which “is online 24/7 to both PMS and each minibar, controlling every aspect of the system,” Strasser explained. “This gives the hotel full control over any operational issues such as non-communicating minibars (if guests unplug, for example). It also tracks all inventory perpetually and provides menu engineering reports of sales and sales statistics.”
The DualBar can already be found in guestrooms at Resorts World Las Vegas, Strasser said, adding that the company has other signed contracts for installation in early 2022, including another large property in Vegas.
Another product from Minibar Systems is the SmartTray, which has also been redesigned to include wood and leatherette versions, as well as custom designs to match the guestroom’s decor.
“They are also now available with standalone WiFi communications so hotels can only use a SmartTray if they want an in-room retail setup and don’t want to install an actual minibar,” said Strasser. “Some hotels want this; they just want to sell water and snacks, especially if they don’t have an in-room liquor license.”
In January, the company will introduce a standalone smart mini fridge called the SmartFridge Eco, which can also communicate with the PMS via WiFI.
“When guests check in, it turns on and when they check out, it turns off,” said Strasser. “That saves a tremendous amount of energy since standard fridges are always on 24/7/365. This is the first product of its type that saves about $25 per room per year in energy costs based on standard energy prices. Also, it saves on wear and tear, so the useful life is extended to almost 10 years. We’ve had tremendous interest in this product from our large chain customers.”