The hotel bar is becoming a destination for American drinkers


The hotel bar is becoming a destination for American drinkers

Alcohol has long been embedded in American culture, from the bar to the home to the brew pub and beyond. When we think about how and where America will drink in the coming years, we need to consider today’s on-the-go, fragmented consumer landscape. The bedrock of travel stay is the hotel, where opportunities remain to up the ante in the alcohol industry.

In examining the drinking preferences of 5,000 hotel visitors, NielsenIQ CGA found that in aggregate, the U.S. hotel channel includes almost 21,000 drinking outlets and is growing faster than traditional on-premises establishments within the U.S. With the willingness of today’s consumers to drink wherever and whenever they choose, hotels remain a hotbed for growth within the beverage alcohol industry.

So, what’s the appeal of today’s hotel bar? It can serve many purposes for today’s consumer. You’ll always have the post-event and evening “wind down” for hotel guests, but increasingly, the hotel bar is becoming a destination for every occasion.


And if we think Americans enjoy imbibing in general, NielsenIQ CGA’s hotel data shows that people actually drink more alcoholic drinks at a hotel than a regular drinking occasion at a traditional non-hotel bar. In fact, 46% of adult U.S. consumers drink beer during a regular drinking occasion, while 52% do the same at a hotel.


Some hotels have been particularly perceptive to consumer drinking trends, and they have successfully aligned their resources to enhance drink quality. Consumers rated the following as the top five hotel brands that they feel offer an extremely good quality of drink brands:

  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Four Seasons
  • Hyatt Regency
  • Omni Hotels & Resorts
  • JW Marriott Hotels

Business travelers seek comfort on the road

Business travelers are the most common visitors to the hotel bar and restaurant, attending during 67% of the trips they take, and they drink nearly three drinks per visit. So what are they drinking?


Happy hour is the mainstay of the hotel bar, and the numbers continue to bear that out. For example, 56% of people say that they partake in Happy hour in a hotel, versus 36% outside a hotel. Cocktails win the happy hour, and hotels have the opportunity to get creative with their offerings and deals.

Yet the opportunity doesn’t end there. People adjust their drinking habits depending on the time of day. For example, wine dominates earlier and during key meal times (e.g., brunch), whereas beer rates particularly high among hotel consumers regardless of the part of day. Hotels can maximize the opportunity to adjust their menus based on the time of day and strategically market themselves to increase exposure.

Travel for business and pleasure isn’t slowing down, and neither is the consumer desire for great experiences from their on-premises visits. Hotels and brands primed to succeed are those that best anticipate their client base’s preferences and needs.