“7 Unconventional Vending Machines for a New Age” by Paige Feigenbaum, Smart Meetings

Photo credit: Benefit

Remember the days of dropping a coin in a slot and getting a bag of chips, candy bar or cold beverage out of a machine? Those machines still exist, but some clever “in-vend-ors” have created some new machines for our bustling, grab ‘n’ go society.

Check out some of the new machines you might see next time you’re at a hotel, airport or trade show floor.


Photo credit: Moet & Chandon Champagne

After returning to the hotel after dinner, you and your colleagues might want to pop the cork for a nightcap. But what to do if the bar already had its last call? Moet & Chandon has a vending machine in select hotels that sells miniature bottles of bubbly on-demand. It can be found at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Paramour Bar at The Phipps in San Antonio, The Pendry Hotel in San Diego, MGM National Harbor in Baltimore, The Ritz-Carlton Naples in Florida, Bijou Nightclub in Boston, and The French Laundry and Thomas Keller Restaurant in Yountville, California. Cheers!


Farmer’s Fridge vending machine sells fresh salads in jars. The salads are stocked fresh each morning and leftovers are donated to people in need nightly. The machines are available at a variety of workplaces and public spaces throughout Chicago and Milwaukee.


Photo credit: Best Buy

Best Buy Express is a self-serve kiosk at major airports throughout the United States that sells electronics, such as cellphone and computer accessories, digital cameras, storage devices, MP3 players, headphones, speakers, portable gaming devices, gift cards, travel adapters and chargers. ZoomSystems, which makes Best Buy Express, also makes Macy’s e-Spot, an electronics vending machine.


Photo credit: Benefit

Put your best face forward at meetings after a quick on-the-go stop at a vending machine that sells cosmetics. As of January, Benefit’s Glam Up & Away pink bus-shaped kiosks could be found in 34 airports in the United States, with plans to expand to Canadian airports this spring. It sells brow products, mascara, primer and more.

“High-traffic airports are the next beauty battleground for prestige cosmetic brands,” says Jean-Andre Rougeot, CEO of Benefit Cosmetics. “Benefit has been successful as the pioneer in selective makeup self-serve vending machines in U.S. airports, and is excited to expand this concept into Canada.”

Sephora, L’Oreal, Smashbox, Proactiv, Elizabeth Arden, Chanel, Clinique and The Honest Company also have vending machines that sell cosmetics and beauty products.


Photo credit: CVS Pharmacy

Oops! Forget your toothbrush and toothpaste at home? Darn it! Have a headache, but no pain reliever in your bag? CVS Pharmacy has an easy fix to your crisis with its health-and-wellness vending machines, which were placed at airports and train stations, such as La Guardia Airport (LGA) and Boston’s South Station, last year.

“Our new CVS Pharmacy vending machine program allows us to extend that convenience beyond our brick-and-mortar locations to offer customers on-the-go essentials in the locations where they often need them most, like airports, hotels and other transportation hubs,” says Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business and chief merchant at CVS Pharmacy.

Each machine sells more than 70 products, including eye and oral care, over-the-counter medication, first-aid items, batteries, lint rollers and stain removers.


Photo credit: Business Wire

Press B3 for a Beemer or C5 for a Jag! The loose change that’s been collecting in your jar all these years may get you a new vehicle in your garage. Carvana’s car vending machines can be found in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Nashville, as well as Raleigh, North Carolina, and Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida. Customers can shop the inventory online or on their mobile device, and visit the vending machine for same-day pick-up. The machine is eight stories tall and holds up to 32 cars. After dropping a commemorative coin through the slot, prepare to be mesmerized as the car of your choosing descends a transparent tower via an elevator until it reaches you on ground level.


Photo credit: Visit Houston

Have a creative idea for your event? Meeting professionals and CVBs looking to customize a vending machine for their conference or trade show booth often turn to Innovative Vending Solutions. Many installations are actually money-less. Planners and organizations use them to encourage engagement with customers, who have to interact with the machines to obtain freebies. For example, people may be prompted to enter their information, post on social media or scan their badge in exchange for the give-away. This tactic is not only a way to create a memorable experience, but also to discourage people with sticky fingers from grabbing a handful of your promotional items off a table. The vending machine acts as swag police, in a sense.

The Visit Houston vending machine dispensed items such as T-shirts, drink koozies, bags, USB drives and earbuds. The company has worked with other tourism boards, airlines and hotels, as well. Each machine comes wrapped with custom graphics for your brand, company or event, and stuffed with whichever products suit your agenda. Machines are available in a variety of sizes.