- More hotels — including Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group — are swapping small, individual shampoo bottles for bulk dispensers, The Wall Street Journal reported, in an attempt to cut costs and bolster sustainability efforts.
- According to the report, another reason Marriott is making the switch because it allows for higher quality shampoo to improve the customer experience.
- While the switch may cut costs and reduce landfill waste, it will likely require supply chain restructuring as they switch suppliers.
As a road warrior, I usually carry shampoo in my toiletry bag, choosing not to depend on the brand or inventory level of the products in the hotel bathroom. This decision coincides with travel budget restrictions that put me in properties with off brand shampoo and increasingly smaller bottles. And that soap seems to be getting smaller and smaller as well!
What is disingenuous to me is masking most cost reduction decisions under the cover of sustainability. Just look at other cost reduction initiatives in hotels. We can check in remotely and have a receipt sent to our e-mail in order to "save paper." Yes it does, but it also reduces front desk and back office labor.
On an extended stay, we are encouraged not to have our towels and linen changed so we can "save energy." The appeal to my ecological side usually wins, but less laundry and room maintenance is also a cost reduction for the property, especially in these days of tight labor.
And what about breakfast? Lots of "free" self-service processed foods in the lobby eliminate the need for a full kitchen and service staff. The term ‘breakfast buffet’ takes on a whole new meaning in the low and mid range hotels on the side of the highway I frequent.
The bulk movement is mainstream. While the large shampoo bottles in my hotel shower makes me feel a bit queasy, we go to restaurants with ketchup bottles on the table and think nothing of it. In fact, we tend to look down our nose at restaurants that supply ketchup in packets. Most fast food restaurants have gone to the pump and cup process and that seems to be working. Same for shared soda fountains. But it’s self service masked as customer service.
I once interviewed the owner of a small regional chain of sandwich shops. He was kind to buy me lunch during our talk. But when I came to the table with a bottle of soda from the cooler, he asked me to put it back and fill a cup from the soda machine. His rationale stuck with me. “My profit margins are higher in fountain drinks than in bottles”.
He mentioned nothing about plastic in landfills.