Hotels Seek Amenities that Guests Like to Swipe

Wall Street Journal: Cheryl Cortez tells people to stay at the W chain of hotels. It isn't the room décor or the customer service, it's the Bliss soaps, shampoo and lotion.

"I swiped all six items," says Ms. Cortez, 37, a corporate roadshow marketing specialist in Edina, Minn., of the Bliss brand bath products the hotel provides. "I remember telling the guys at my breakfast table they should take it all and give it to their girlfriend, or wife, or me," she says of a recent stay at the W in New Orleans. "The bath products are so good."

Travel-sized beauty and grooming products at hotels are something many travelers view as pleasantly scented parting gifts. They are also the result of global marketing and licensing partnerships that marry the beauty industry to the hospitality business. And in a world where travelers are restricted to three-ounce liquid carry-ons on airplanes, bath products in hotel rooms are gaining attention.

Hilton Hotels and Resorts announced in May it had commissioned six new products from the Peter Thomas Roth cosmetics brand for use in all 540 hotels in 78 countries worldwide. Hilton Hotels and Resorts ended its relationship with its previous beauty partner of four years, Crabtree & Evelyn.Hilton Hotels Corp.'s mid-market brands—Embassy Suites and Doubletree—now carry Crabtree & Evelyn.

These marriages and divorces are the result of agreements between hotels and hospitality supply companies, which frequently license beauty brands' names and formulations, then manufacture and sell the amenities directly to hotels. "After about five years, some hotels want a change to a brand that is hot, new, trendy, current—which was one of the requirements for Hilton," said Teri Unsworth, the account supervisor at Sysco Guest Supply who paired Hilton to Roth after an 18-month search process that began with 50 beauty brands.

"We are always looking for retail brands that are appropriate for our different customers," said Ms. Unsworth. Hotels, suppliers and beauty brands work together to either create a new line of products or choose an appropriate beauty pairing for each hotel.

Hilton found Peter Thomas Roth appealing because it held valuable licenses in the Far East, where some countries, such as Japan, regulate beauty products as health-care items and hold them to different standards of safety.

Together, the companies worked to create the Mega-Rich line, tailoring items for a global and business-oriented hotel. The process included fine-tuning details such as ensuring a lotion could be quickly absorbed—the better for nongreasy boardroom handshakes. Hilton has a six-month exclusive agreement to use Mega-Rich in rooms and on its online shop before Peter Thomas Roth sells it at other retail outlets.

While Peter Thomas Roth products will be distributed to more than 20 million guests worldwide each year, the New York-based beauty company Peter Thomas Roth Labs LLC won't see big profits on the deal.

Hotel amenities can be a powerful marketing tool, says Amy Nelson-Bennett, CEO of Molton Brown, the UK-based cosmetics company owned by Japan's KAO Corp. Molton Brown began offering its products in boutique hotels in 1985. Its hotel program now accounts for 25% of its overall sales, though profit margins are narrower than in other segments.

Hilton says changing beauty brands didn't add to its costs which it declines to disclose.

A hotel will pay more to have a luxury brand such as Ferragamo, Hermés, Bulgari and Asprey, all of which provide guest products to hotels. The cost of these bath products can run higher, in the range of 60 cents to 80 cents per bottle, says Hotel Amenities, which distributes Ferragamo.

Retail beauty products are set to make the jump from hotel room sink to the hotel's spa. Peter Thomas Roth and Hilton announced Tuesday they would place products in Hilton's new eforea spas.

At Ritz Carlton, products in most bathrooms bear Ritz Carlton's own label, but Bulgari products are in premium Club Floors and suites. "In the future, the bathroom amenities should link to the spa. We are moving in that direction, definitely," says Sharilyn Abbajay, vice president, Global Spa, Retail & Fitness for Marriott International.

"There was a time when it was fashionable to take a white-labeled product and put your [hotel] logo on it and call that quality," says Andrew Flack, vice president, Global Brand Marketing, Hilton Hotels and Resorts. "Hilton once had its own brand of wine, but if I sent you a couple of cases of Hilton wine, you wouldn't be very excited."


Post a Comment