When it comes to guestroom amenities it’s often said that guests expect their hotel room to be equipped with at least what they have in their homes. As such, in-room coffee has become such an expectation among guests that a significantly increasing number of hoteliers are acknowledging the value of having single-serve coffeemakers in the guestroom.
In fact, in-room coffee is the third most mentioned item by hotel guests posting TripAdvisor reviews, just behind WiFi and fitness centers. Furthermore, some 30 percent of U.S. households now have a single-serve brewer at home, while roughly 90 percent of Americans begin their day with a hot beverage, either coffee or tea.
Furthermore, the evolution of in-room coffee from full pots to single-serve coffeemakers with pods has made it a more viable solution for hoteliers from a dollar and sense perspective. A few owners and operators recently commented on the movement.
Sean Skellie, partner, vp of business analysis, Madison, WI-based IDM Hospitality Management, pointed out the company is currently considering in-room options and is actively looking “to expand the morning options for guests who like to grab a great cup before they face the world.”
He further added that dovetails with IDM’s overall operating strategy. “Our company believes in giving guests what they want in the room they rent, which is their home away for home even for the night. That means beverage, food, and TV programming, along with a great bed and bath,” he said.
Wayne Nagel, general manager for the Hotel Current—an independent hotel in Long Beach, CA—underscored the importance of offering guests an option without having them leave the room. “I believe having in-room coffee is very important for our guests. Not only for convenience, but coffee is like the bed, an expected necessity,” he said, later adding “with over 50 percent of the population drinking coffee today in-room coffee helps guests get their day started.”
Nagel also touted the cleaner operation of the one-cup coffeemaker and the “ability to offer variety and reduce waste.”
Intelligent Blends LP—which offers gourmet coffee and tea pods through its Maud’s Righteous Blends brand—has experienced the growth of in-room coffee in hospitality first hand. The San Diego-based company was established in 2013 after the patent for the Keurig K Cup expired and the company services more than 40,000 rooms throughout the U.S. “We are seeing more and more hotels convert from no coffee, or pot coffee, into single-serve coffee and espresso,” said John Lenz, president of hospitality, Intelligent Blends LP.
Rick Tomljenovic, owner/partner, Scottsdale, AZ-based Tristar Hotels, further drove home the point while acknowledging some of the challenges. “We do think it is important to have coffee in the room, however, providing a selection that satisfies 100 percent of the guests is difficult to do. It is really more of a convenience than providing a great in-room coffee experience,” he said.
Expectations among guests have been ratcheted up considerably, a trend has been driven in large part by Millennials, and younger consumers in general, who have more of an expectation of quality when it comes to drinking coffee. As an example, a recent study revealed that only 21 percent of consumers ages 18-21 drank a traditional coffee the previous day, as opposed to 42 percent of those over age 60, according to the National Coffee Association’s National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) tracking report.
Lenz acknowledged that young coffee drinkers seem to prefer gourmet preparations, especially espresso based beverages. He pointed out, however, that the company’s selection of gourmet coffees are designed to accommodate the aforementioned trends as well as more traditional coffee drinkers. For example, Maud’s uses the best coffee beans from around the world and all blends are created by its fifth-generation roast master, according to Lenz.
Lenz asserted that in-room coffee has become considerably more widespread within hospitality as it used to be available primarily just in five-star or luxury hotels. Now it’s not uncommon to see such offerings at two-star properties largely as a result of increased affordability. Lenz further added the company sells direct, which enables “factory direct” pricing. He also noted that most providers now offer programs where the brewers are at little to no cost to the hotelier and have a long warranty plan to endure daily guest usage.
Tomljenovic highlighted some of the additional advantages of the single-serve system. “It has made it easier for the guest to use and it allows us the ability to provide some varied options to the guest in terms of types of coffee to serve,” he said.
Those options include not only the different types of coffee, but also branding opportunities as well, according to Lenz. “We are finding more and more hotels that want to create a custom blend for their property. With single-serve pods each having a label, we are able to create a unique blend and name for the pod.”