BETHESDA, MD — Cut losses on wine sales, reduce wine spillage and spoilage, too—these are just some of the advantages touted by creators of self-serve wine dispensers, and hotel brands have taken notice.
One in particular, Marriott International, Inc., has enlisted Napa Technology to install its WineStation as a central part of the hotel’s newly renovated M Club Lounges. Currently, there are six wine dispensers installed at the brand’s properties, with more than a dozen projected by this fall.
“At Marriott, we always aim to exceed our guests’ expectations, and the evolution of wine as an experience drove our decision to make the WineStation brand a standard and an integral element within each M Club Lounge,” said Bart Hosmer, senior director of food & beverage, Marriott International. “It is the only technology available with the ability to deliver a top-notch guest experience along with technologically advanced RFID and smart-card integration across properties.”
No sommelier is required to operate the WineStation. It’s configured for both staff and self-service applications. However, the option to walk guests through the process allows for direct contact with the customer. “The system is very intuitive. We look at this as a service opportunity to engage with our guest,” Hosmer said.
With the swipe of a room key or smart card, oenophiles and novices alike can access an assortment of wines by the ounce up to a full glass. In the debit format, the smart card is depleted and refilled. For operators utilizing the room-key integration, charges are billed back to the customer folio.
The size of the pour is pre-programmed into the system and enables the hotel operator to monitor the output and cost effectiveness. “The WineStation provides another level of controls to assist in the bottom line, such as consistent pour sizes and quality preservation. In nontraditional spaces such as the M Club or concierge lounges, it aids in the reporting and accounting with honor bars,” Hosmer added.
In addition, guests may be more adventurous in selecting wines at different price points. “The addition of the WineStation is a unique value add for the hotel—offering finer wines where there were none before—and a means for guests to experience new and exciting wines they may not have tried before in taste or half-glass options,” said Jayne Portnoy, VP of sales & marketing, Napa Technology.
Self-serve wine dispensers aren’t new, but Napa Technology said it has improved on some key components—the ability to pristinely preserve wines in a completely uncontaminated environment; capitalize on guest and product data; and innovate to meet the needs of the customer. “Our technological advances are the elite dispensing technology, vintner-approved preservation technology, enterprise-level solutions and design simplicity and reliability,” said Portnoy.
Preservation of the wine is paramount, and Napa Technology has developed a solution to help maintain the integrity of the wine. “The WineStation is the first of its kind to effectively remove oxygen from the bottle while replacing it with argon to provide wine preservation for a period of 60 days. The unique design of the Clean Pour Dispensing Head eliminates oxidation and contamination. Argon gas delivers the most effective “seal” for wine preservation as it’s amongst the heaviest gasses with no flavor or odors traditionally found in nitrogen,” she said.
Technology aside, Marriott sees the WineStation as a complement to stays at its properties. “It adds another dynamic to the evolving food and beverage experience. It provides a versatile platform to be flexible with demand and allows for enhanced service or less service based on the guest’s needs,” Hosmer said. “Feedback across the board has been overwhelmingly positive. We will continue to look at how we can enhance the guest experience throughout the operation. Right now, we’ve only scratched the surface of how the WineStation can positively enhance the operation.”