Greetings loyal readers,
In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to write a bit about selling to the hotel industry this week. Larry Wilhelm, president and owner of Custom HBC, gave me a ton of information that I wasn't able to use for my March travel feature, but I thought was interesting and useful and I don't want to let it slip by. What follows is Wilhelm explaining different ways distributors can target the hotel industry with health-care promotions, more or less directly from our interview, edited only for length and clarity.
Larry Wilhelm: "We'll start with the in room amenities. Those are typically purchased by the housekeeping department within the hotel complex. They're looked as an expense item, and most hotels will have a budget that they're willing to spend per room, [per] night on amenities.
*Mike's note: Wilhelm added that hotels usually have a cache of items not typically stocked in the room, available at the customer's request, like toothpaste and combs.
LW: "The second opportunity is honor-bar amenities for sale. A lot of hotels will have liqueur and chocolates and other beverages in an honor bar ... and our idea is for let's say a foot soap or an exfoliating scrub or a very nice facial moisturizer, things that allow the customer to treat themselves a little bit in the hotel. They're probably items that they wouldn't normally carry with them, because of the difficulty of packing along for travel, but they'd be willing to spend five or 10 bucks on that item once they're at the hotel. And, in general, selling one of those items per room, will about equally offset the expense of the items that are stocked in the room, so then it becomes a break even, or possibly even a profit-center for housekeeping, and they're usually very interested in that.
*Mike's note: I personally think this is a really good idea. I'm pretty resistant to paying high prices for drinks or sweets, especially when I'm already likely being bled dry by travel costs, but an unusual luxury item that I'd normally never think of might hook me in.
LW: Within the hotel, there's usually a gift shop ... and within that gift shop they sell health and beauty items. And there's an opportunity to sell custom-imprinted items to the gift shop, for resale. So now we're essentially talking about private-label items. It could be lip balms, impulse counter items, or basics or outdoor protection if it's an outdoor-oriented property, like sunscreen, after-sun products and so on.
LW: The fourth opportunity is the marketing department itself, where they're trying to promote their group sales efforts and so forth, and they like to have items that they can pass out to customers or prospects. Health and beauty items make a nice giveaway product in that arena as well.
LW: The fifth is, if the property has a spa in it, and many of the nice properties do ... we can configure a private-label line for the spa, for their front-end, for the gift shop, as well as back-bar items they use in the services that they provide. So, for example, if they offer a mud wrap treatment as one of their services, we can provide the bulk dead-sea mud for that treatment, in addition for having a little retail-sized version of that product for take home.
So that ends Wilhelm's advice on selling to the hotel industry. Pretty interesting, huh? I imagine many end-buyers break down in similarly compartmental fashions, like colleges, sports teams or maybe banks. Apply this information, dear readers, and target different fragments of large institutions!
TEASER FOR NEXT WEEK: I'm not at all sure what I'm going to write about. I have some more old tech and travel interviews I'd like to come back to, but maybe I'll talk about our upcoming Top 50 Distributors list or some of the new stuff Charlie and I are working on for the Web. Hold on to your seats! And your exclamation points!
CHARLES PLYTER FACT OF THE WEEK: Another of Charlie's past jobs was that he used to renovate and flip houses. This means Charlie is not only unusually handy for a writer, but happens to spend some of his weekends building shelves, fixing garbage disposals, and engineering giant catapults designed to fling boiling pitch (I didn't ask him about the last one. It sounds a bit ambitious, and I didn't want to get roped into helping him. Let me tell you, building a catapult is a huge pain.)