Friday, April 1, 2011

Penny Pinchers

Shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant – the list of in-room amenities goes on. But with the on-going recession, hotels have cut costs and eliminated some of these luxury items. The jokes of stealing hotel toiletries are now outdated. With the high costs of restocking bathroom amenities, hotels have implemented new strategies. For instance, instead of individual shampoo/ conditioner bottles, a hotel may now place a shampoo dispenser on the wall inside the shower. Or, some hotels simply take the more lavish products out of each hotel room, yet carry them in the housekeeping departments. Thus, if a customer were to call for some mouthwash, it is delivered to their room complimentary. On the contrary, products, such as deodorant or hairspray, now come at a price. The development of in-room products has expanded over the years. Joseph McInerney, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, offers a run-down of the past years: After color TV came the TV-plus-remote, then the clock radio. In the 1960s, shampoo became a must. Lotions, mouthwash and more followed. The 1970s saw the introduction of sewing kits, shoe mitts and shoe horns. In the early 1990s, coffeemakers appeared in the room. At the end of the century, irons and ironing boards became mandatory. Nevertheless, with the increase in these complimentary items came the increase of hotel costs. Thus, in-room coffee makers are turning into single serving coffee packets. Turn down service is not always an everyday occurrence. Moreover, mini bars are turning into empty fridge storage. In fact, only 22% of upscale hotels still have mini fridges. Nevertheless, some hotels are getting creative with these empty refrigerators. Some let customers pick and order mini bar options upon check-in. If the customer is not interested, they can simply refuse any products. Other hotels enforce a mandatory mini bar fee, that also includes parking and internet. These fees allow the mini bar items to be “free”, while helping the hotel pay for the acquired costs. The future of in-room amenities is unknown. However, hotels are showing a preference to updated in-room technology over shampoo bottles and hairspray. Therefore, we’ll just have to wait and see what is to come. For more information:

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