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Single-cup coffee service is a perk for hotel guests

NATIONAL REPORT—When it comes to guest satisfaction, even the smallest amenities can make a huge difference. And considering the average adult’s dependence on that first cup of coffee in the morning—or a quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day—a quality in-room coffee option can easily affect a guest’s perspective of the quality of a hotel.

The Cherry Tree Inn in Traverse City, MI; La Posada Hotel in Laredo, TX; and the Hotel Monaco Portland, A Kimpton Hotel, in Portland, OR, all offer Starbucks single-cup coffee, which they purchase through Courtesy Products. 

Jonathan Pack, general manager at the Cherry Tree Inn, noted that the 76-room hotel has worked with Courtesy Products for a few years now, but only recently switched over to the Starbucks program this past summer. “We mainly wanted the name recognition and better product,” he explained. “A lot of in-room coffee products are kind of basic. It tends to be okay, but we always look for that premium. To be able to have a better product was definitely very important to us.”

Joann Weil, director of housekeeping at the Hotel Monaco, explained that the luxury, boutique property has seen the value in Starbucks products for a long time, as its in-room beverage offering has consisted of the Seattle-based brand for years, but the hotel was particularly interested in the fact that the brand was offered in single-cup form. “That they were presenting a Starbucks product was a consideration when we were looking at the one-cup,” she said, adding that the ease-of-use of the one-cup coffeemaker is a highlight. “It comes proportioned in a single-use filter basket and brews right into the mug. It eliminates the cleaning of the filter basket and carafe.” Indeed, according to Courtesy Products, a single-cup coffeemaker takes 90% less housekeeping labor than its larger counterparts.

The Hotel Monaco has been in the process of transitioning the coffeemakers in all of its 221 guestrooms and suites from four-cup dispensers to one-cup dispensers since last September. “It’s been a gradual switchover,” Weil reported, adding that a reason for the gradual approach is the need to use up the remainder of the four-cup coffee. “We still have two floors to complete, but it’s just a matter of time.”

Armando Paredes, purchasing manager for La Posada Hotel, said that when the hotel switched over to this product last year, Courtesy Products switched out all of the dispensers in the 206 guestrooms for free. 

Paredes agreed with the idea that guests view Starbucks as a high-quality product. “We’re a competitive hotel trying to keep up with technology,” he explained. “That’s why we decided to go with this product.” Paredes praised the easy clean-up and the fact that everything comes sealed—meaning that guests view it as sanitary. 

In highlighting the benefits of a single-cup unit, Courtesy Products points to a survey of 500 travelers conducted by the Lindberg Group, Inc., which states that more than 40% of travelers are concerned with the cleanliness of traditional hotel coffeepots. 

Also, Paredes appreciates the fact that one-cup means there’s less waste, as well as the machine’s automatic shut-off function. “We save energy and prevent accidents with someone leaving it on,” he pointed out. In addition to the coffeemaker and the coffee itself, hotels can also purchase cups and the condiment kit, which consists of sugar, sugar substitute, creamer and a straw, all in the same package. “It saves us money and it’s just what we need,” Paredes explained.

As far as guest satisfaction goes, Weil reported that “overall, Starbucks has been really well-received in the hotel.” Paredes noted that the housekeepers at La Posada have all heard favorable reaction from the guests and also said that “we do use more of this coffee than we did the one before, so that’s a good indicator that people are enjoying it.”

Pack agreed. “I can’t believe how much coffee I go through,” he exclaimed. “When I first started, I ordered 20 cases of regular and 15 of decaf, and I had to reorder by the end of the month. It’s hard to keep up—much different than our last coffee that we had,” he said.

“As soon as we switched to Starbucks, we saw it on our surveys, we saw it on our comment cards and we saw it on our Facebook page,” he continued. “Everything was well-received. I’ve been here for seven years and we haven’t had nearly any of those comments before.” Pack noted that there are plenty of times when you make a change or an improvement—even ones that you’re particularly proud of—but you don’t get any feedback from guests. “With this, we got feedback quickly and noticeably.”

Pack also praised Courtesy Products for quick and efficient service. “We’re one of the highest occupancy hotels in Traverse City and the top-ranked on-water hotel, so it’s important for us to have someone who can keep up with our pace.” In addition to dependable service, he also likes the personalized care, like the thank-you emails from the account manager after a purchase. “I work in a hotel so I always look for little things like that,” he said.

Paredes concluded, “It’s a great product, guests enjoy it and it saves money on our end, so it’s a win-win situation.”

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