Retailing for Success in 2024: Beyond the Hotel Room to Increase Bottom Line with Retail
RevPar is no longer only tied to room revenue at your property- it’s the total square footage. This is not groundbreaking news, but ask yourself this question. What are you doing to drive revenue separately from your room rate strategy? It is time to invest energy into thinking beyond the room and amenity packages that will lead you to discover ways to drive revenue beyond nightly stay and food and beverage.
Aman Resorts announced their furniture line, Aman Interiors, at Design Miami (December 2023). Marriott is selling linens in checkout emails, Four Seasons is extremely active on Instagram with ads for luxurious bedding, and champagne vending machine pop-ups are re-emerging in luxury hotel lobbies such as the Ritz Carlton. So what are you waiting for? Retail can produce up to 45%-65% profit, and trust me, even the smallest space can produce revenue that will increase the bottom line.
So why should retail be a goal for 2024?
You have a captive audience within the walls of your hotel, and PMS and Booking Engines are beginning to understand that technology enhancements are needed to provide more than a room sale or wine at check-in upgrade. Retail is at the forefront of this technology movement. Sabre has shared that retail options will be introduced to their software in the spring of 2024, and if you have watched airlines- they are testing the waters with retail. Delta offered a pop-up shop at JFK in fall 2023 with online links to purchase.
At our 23-room hotel, we took a small space, think less than 10 square feet, and took retail sales from $30k-$100k in 10 months, and this was in 2019- pre-COVID. It’s time to invest in your hotel’s diversification. These retail tips will help you increase revenue and profit and create more brand awareness.
1. Catch Their Eye
Adding retail is not as simple as putting something out, and it will sell. The display area must catch the guests’ eye, and the products must do the same. This space needs to be inviting, have enough product without overwhelming your guests, tell a story, and be on brand with your hotel and locality. How your retail space appears is key to your success. Consider a custom vending machine made to specifications for easy access to sell amenities, beer, wine, champagne, and other goods.
2. Unique Products
This can be tricky. Finding products that are unique to you and your location can feel like a daunting task. If a shop down the street is carrying the same products, you won’t stand out but blend in. Your retail space must blend branded items and unique products that your guests will want to see, feel, and touch. And just as important those selections need to offer a spectrum from low to high priced gift items.
3. Know Your Audience
Females primarily drive sales, but that is not necessarily the case for every property. Know your customer. Know their likes and dislikes and motivation. Information can help you curate the best promotional and retail items for your guests. They will love purchasing a gift for a loved one or for themselves to take home and put on display or use. Your guests want things unique to them, the statement pieces no one else has.
4. Online Purchasing
Part of your strategy will need to be how you take your sales online. Maybe not every product, but for bestsellers or statement items. We know technology partners are looking to integrate online purchases of almost anything into hotel software or apps – including experiences. This means you cannot be afraid of tech and the future, and you must plan for it. In 2019, we created a Shopify on a subdomain of our hotel to manage our retail products. The future of PMS and Booking System upgrades integrating this is a win for you and your retail strategy.
5. Communicate With Your Guests
When you add retail and fail to communicate with your audience that it is available, you leave money on the table. Retail needs to be a strategic component in your social media, email conversations, website, in-room communications, and guest apps. Both subtle and non-subtle strategies need to be used, including storytelling through your space.
6. Use Your Brand
Branding and taglines need to be part of the strategy. Not only branded merchandise (and this is not meant to be just a logo item) but items that will make the buyer embrace a positive emotion. Perhaps a t-shirt that provides a smile or laugh or enhances a memory of a stay, but again, it has to represent your brand. Whatever products you brand and guests buy- they will be seen and will act as word of mouth for future guests. Independents tend to have more flexibility with fun and unique branded items, yet there is room for all properties to capitalize on this.
7. Hire An Expert
Work with someone who can help curate your gift shop. It is vital to have the right look and feel and the right products to go into your retail space offline and online. Your best use of time is typically not walking showroom floors or scouring the internet for products that will make a statement.
Retail as a Means to Enhance Hotel Experience
Investing in retail will pay off in 2024, as it becomes part of the experience of visiting your property. As we all move to enhance the experience, retail provides a tremendous opportunity to not only enhance your bottom line but also for you to give and receive more at your hotel(s).
About the author
Mandy Murry is the principal and Chief Experience Officer at The Hospitality Concierge. She is an expert in Coaching Independent Hotels to help maximize revenue, guest experience, marketing, operations, and systems. As former owner of the boutique hotel, Mandy, has been there and done that- working all aspects and angles of an independent hotel. With twenty years in hospitality and marketing, her expertise lies in strategic planning, marketing, and creating guest experiences. The magic button is the understanding and implementation of technology, including AI, paired with the vital component of human connection. She has a proven track record of increasing revenue and taking boutique properties to the next level to stay in demand online and offline. She has mentored Independent Properties in Europe, Mexico, and the United States. Mandy is a sought-after speaker in the hospitality industry and has been featured in Hospitality Today, Top Floor Podcast, Huffington Post, 24k, Lux Mag, Bella Grace, Forbes, and more. She is an active member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.
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