The Economics of the Mini Bar

For the first time in my adult life, I've started raiding the mini-bar.  I've no doubt this is going to leave me with a $30 or $40 bill for not very much in the way of beverages, but after a lifetime of contempt for mini-bar users, I suddenly understand their plight.  I don't know my way around China, haven't found a convenient local minimart, and suffer from extreme jet lag.  I am what's known as extremely price inelastic.  I've suddenly realized that business travelers aren't rich, or necessarily able to charge the minibar to their expense accounts.  Rather, they're simply exhausted.

Naturally the hotel takes full advantage of this, and who can blame them?  Business travelers are ever more annoying:  they won't pay for internet, don't make phone calls, and they throw their towels on the bathroom floor.  Hotels used to be able to use the room as almost a loss leader for services, but with the advent of computers, we've gotten ever more adept at replacing the most lucrative ones.  But a computer can't dispense me an ice cold diet coke at three in the morning.