Let’s be honest – guests love amenities! A recent survey found that 86 per cent of travellers like to pocket them: the mini oatmeal soaps, the single-use shampoos, the lavender scented body wash… You name it, your customers want it.
They are excited to see shampoos, conditioners, bath salts and mini soaps arranged beautifully on their bathroom counter-top upon arrival. It is all part of the ritual of their stay – checking out the little extras. But modern guests are not just looking for quality amenities that leave their hair and skin feeling great, they expect these amenities not to have a negative impact on their health, or the environment.
Guests these days are very well educated when it comes to environmental health. They know what ingredients are potentially harmful and what chemicals to avoid. One of the primary no-no ingredients is paraben-based preservatives. Parabens are commonly used due to being both a cheap and effective preservative but are increasingly controversial as they have been found in breast cancer tumours and have displayed the ability to slightly mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer). Guests now carry a mental list of chemicals that they avoid, which includes the potentially cancer causing formaldehyde.
It may be true that as an accommodation provider you do not have the time to scrutinise the contents of your amenities and their potential risks to your guests but you should ensure that you are aware of what you are providing and how safe your products are. Take ownership of your amenities package and keep an eye on what labels you carry – this is not only morally and ethically the right thing to do but it also makes perfect business sense.
Transparency Market Research conducts global industry analysis of trends and forecasts. According to their recent findings, “the organic personal care products market is growing at rapid pace across the world. Rising concerns for health safety, increasing green consciousness and growing consumer’s awareness about the hazards in synthetic chemicals have fueled the demand for organic personal care products”. The data they collected highlights an increase in revenue from 2011 and forecasts high growth potential in the lead up to 2018. More and more customers are demanding products that are sourced from natural ingredients: they want organic, greener, cleaner amenities and are only happy with those little extras you provide if they meet their expectations and standards. Far from costing you money, this has proven to be a rapidly growing market offering the chance for your business to outshine competitors.
Guests want to stay in accommodation that promotes the same values as their own. They want green/clean natural amenities, they want to see recycling, they want to see less waste, and they want to feel that their stay has a limited impact on the environment. In what ways can an accommodation provider ensure that they meet these expectations?
At a very basic level, providing green amenities is a must. Amenities that have been created with a focus to protect or cause less harm to the environment should be offered. It is now the norm for most accommodations to provide linen and towel reuse policies; some go so far as providing recycling bins in every guest room. Some green accommodations use compact fluorescent or LED lighting and low-flow water fixtures. Other accommodations now have greener products, services that may include locally sourced food and amenities; these are geared towards environmental sustainability.
What attempts at a greener environment do you make? Every manager needs to take a look at their property through a green lens, looking for things can to change or improve if they want to boost their reputation and sales. Everyone can make the move to a greener environment by making small, everyday changes. Ensuring that your amenities range is green is a small change that will make a huge difference not only to your green credentials and the environment, but also to the mindset of your guests.
In addition to providing amenities with cleaner ingredients, accommodation providers should also be to considering waste. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, more than half a million little shampoo bottles end up in landfill every day.
Partially used bottles of shampoo or partially used bars of soap, cannot be redistributed to guests and therefore end up in landfill. To avoid this, some hotels may choose to donate their leftover soaps and shampoos to a charity to be sterilised and redistributed to those communities in need around the world. Alternatively, to avoid waste, the size of your single use amenities packaging could be adjusted for your guest’s use or you could consider using reusable/refillable dispensers that can dramatically reduce landfill waste by up to 70 per cent.
There is some resistance to the use of refillable dispensers however, some guests are wary of their contents and query the hygiene of shared dispensers, some hotels think they do not look elegant enough and so single use packaging still tends to be the preferred option. In this instance amenities should be provided in dispensers that are Earth friendly and kinder to the environment. Not only should the contents be green but the packaging also needs to be safe, hygienic and contain clean healthful ingredients that are – as often as possible – organic. The guest should be satisfied that harsh chemicals are not used in their production and that each product is manufactured without animal testing.
Accommodation providers need to focus on amenities suppliers who recognise that their product development should be driven by guest demand. Truly innovative products and packaging that quantify their own supply chain footprint and minimises their carbon impact, can easily be obtained in today’s economy. So there is no excuse for a property not to offer them.
The accommodation industry in Australia and New Zealand is very lucky to have an array of forward-thinking amenities suppliers who stock a range of beautiful, natural and earth friendly amenities, some organic and some even locally sourced. Amenities that even the most environmentally friendly, health conscious guest would be more than happy to use, enjoy, and perhaps even pocket.