Spending over a third of my time in different properties across the globe as I currently do gives one the opportunity to delve into areas of our business that are typically passed over. When considering bathroom amenities, most discussions pertain to the breadth of the line carried and the size of containers, all with a focus on cost. As the ‘room wars’ have narrowed the gap between luxury properties, hoteliers are re-examining these ancillary amenities as a key point of differentiation.
Some two decades ago, Emilie Hoyt launched LATHER as a natural product line out of a personal need – her migraines were triggered by synthetic chemicals found in many hard goods and cosmetics. Her products are sold direct to consumers, and more recently have found their way into the hospitality industry amongst Hyatt Andaz, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Canyon Ranch and many boutique hotel brands.
I sat down with her to talk about the world of bathroom amenities, how these products can be used to grow your business and where the industry is headed in a general sense.
How important is a hotel’s amenity program insofar as the quality image for the property?
It’s easy to forget how important it is to engage all the senses in creating a memorable experience. Just think about why your guests are traveling; it could be anything from a job interview to a wedding. Traveling is both exhausting and often not fun. I would argue the guest is most vulnerable the first morning he or she naked in the shower and away from home. Countless GMs have told us that there are only three real in-room touch points – the bed, the televisions and the shower. Providing exceptional amenities is one of the most important opportunities a property has to bond with the guest and to let them know that the hotel cares about every part of their experience.
What are the basics involved in an amenity package?
Typically, there are six basic items offered that guests would normally use in their homes – four liquids (shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturizer) and two soaps (face and body). Items like bath salts, pillow mist and sun care are often much appreciated extras. Turndown items are wonderful, especially as healthier alternatives to chocolates or candy. No matter the instance, guests are looking for something special, curated and high quality. They want to feel like someone at the property searched to find the perfect product for them and the hotel guest experience. Also, depending on the type of property, oftentimes the guest will want to be able to buy the retail sizes of the products on property. This can be a fantastic property revenue generator.
What is the correct size for a shampoo bottle?
It really depends on the type of property and average stay profile. You always want to exceed expectations. A one-ounce size will typically suffice for a single guest for a one-night stay. For a resort property that has multiple guests in a room and a three night or longer average length of stay, I would always suggest a two-ounce size. A larger size for a longer stay is both economical and also provides a much higher level of perceived guest value.
Dispensers have been growing in popularity. What is the guest perspective?
Guests’ perspectives are softening towards dispensers as there some lovely products on the market. They are increasing in popularity in both Asia and Europe, but North America still lags. Practically speaking, dispensers have some advantages for the properties, mainly a typically lower cost and that they are better for the environment through the reduction of single-use plastic bottles.
Do dispensers have any disadvantages?
A drawback is that dispensers remind guests that they are in a shared space and the illusion of exclusivity is broken. When guests are in the shower, they don’t perceive the dispenser as a gift just for them but as a device serving many people. The bottom line is when the property makes this decision, management must fully consider the entire guest experience. A recent study by Sofitel found that 72% of survey respondents didn’t associate dispensers with luxury, while 87% of those surveyed got the impression that the dispensers were being used primarily to reduce costs. Such guest sentiments will likely change over time, but at this current juncture single-use plastic bottles are still the preferred amenity distribution vehicle, especially at the luxury tier.