This is part one of a three-part article on the hotel amenities market.

In the hotel and lodging marketplace, selling amenities is a tough proposition. Sure, properties buy and use a lot of individual bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. But as soon as a facility customer changes brands, ownership names or logos, it will hurt a distributor in the pocketbook. Cases of small, individual amenities are now left unsellable, creating dead stock.

“The day [clients] changed logos, the new one got shipped to you, and there was nothing you could do with the old product,” says Jennifer Rosenberg, president of Acorn Distributors Inc., a distributor based out of Indianapolis. “It’s proprietary, and you can’t sell it to another customer.”

However, amenity dispensers or fixtures may offer a solution for distributors looking for help in the hospitality market. These products save customers money, are still customizable and benefit the environment — and best of all, they won’t be sitting dead on warehouse shelves in mass quantities. 

Challenges With Amenities

Acorn Distributors Inc. recently got out of the individual amenities market because it was too challenging to manage inventory.

“We’ll still do custom amenities for customers, but the brands — we were heavily in that for many years and what we found was that the logos [of lodging businesses] were changing so frequently that it was very difficult to manage the inventory,” says Rosenberg. “We had more dead stock product than current stock, because you had to bring in whatever the minimum was; and then, all of a sudden, if the flagship changed logos, we were sitting on all this inventory.”

Acorn donated a lot of those amenities to the American Red Cross or overseas, but eventually the company needed to make a change.

“We still sell to hotels everything but amenities, and then where there are independent properties, we do sell custom logos for a proprietary for them,” says Rosenberg. “But that’s different than dealing with flagships.”

For distributors looking for solutions in the individual amenities market, the biggest challenge is in managing in the soaps, shampoos and conditioners.

“The pads of paper and the pens, those things turn pretty quick,” says Rosenberg. “It’s the shower amenities that have a slower inventory. You really just have to manage your inventory very, very closely.”

Ray Burger, founder of Pineapple Hospitality, a distribution and marketing company in St. Charles, Missouri, has experienced the same problems with shower amenities.

“It’s an issue because hotel brands decide to change packaging on the products that they are purchasing through large manufacturers, so you may have stocked up in April and then they decide in May, June or July that they are going to change brand specifications for the product,” he says. “So you may end up with X number of cases of products that don’t meet specifications.”

He said most times the hotel will allow some wiggle room. But if that hotel changes ownership, that creates a problem.

next page of this article:
Customer Benefits To Wall-mounted Shampoo Dispensers, Soap Dispensers