Creating a Successful Hotel Retail Space

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3/1/2019

In previous years, many hoteliers treated their facility's retail space as an afterthought. These little shops vended few items outside the occasional forgotten guest toothbrush or razor.

However, recently, many hospitality gurus have revamped these stale, outdated retail practices. Instead of offering only toiletries, they've branched into the world of designer fashions and local artwork — even electronics and home furnishings. Smart hoteliers know how to make the most of this trend to further brand their getaway destination by offering unique retail spaces. With a bit of creativity, anything from small B&Bs to large chain hotels can provide a truly memorable guest experience while adding a new revenue stream.

Consider Your Audience

In designing a memorable retail space, hoteliers must first consider their target audience. Much of this determination depends upon the income demographic of typical clientele. No one would expect to find a shop featuring designer Prada handbags at a Motel-6-esque establishment.

Luxury hotels, conversely, do well to pair with well-known designers and manufacturers of high-end products. Luxury hotels offering amenities such as designer robes and slippers should consider potentially making these items available for sale in their retail area, as guests enjoy the ability to take home a comfortable reminder of their stay. Hotels catering to frequent business travelers may consider partnering with manufacturers of electronic products and/or business suit designers.

Hotels with fewer dollar signs following their TripAdvisor listing description can likewise capitalize on the retail trend by offering local treasures not available elsewhere. Hotels in beach destinations, for instance, may consider designing their retail space around bathing suits and beach towels, while mountain destinations may offer practical cold weather gear such as scarves, hats and mittens.

Choose a Theme

The second step in designing a winning hotel retail space involves selecting a theme, just as any other retail establishment must do. As hotel retail space comes at a premium — after all, space utilized for displaying wares means less space for lodging guests — the vast majority of hotels do well to keep their shopping area relatively tiny.

Sometimes, selecting a theme simply means expanding upon the overriding purpose of the establishment. Cozy country inns, for example, make a natural backdrop for vending cute kitchenware and decor with farmhouse appeal. Likewise, hotels featuring a health spa or fitness area pair naturally with branded body washes and lotions.

Complete the Experience

After identifying audience and theme, hoteliers then need to grab the hammer and nails and design their retail area. As hotel retail revolves around creating an overall getaway experience, choosing the right materials from floor to ceiling matters.

Wooden or Pergo flooring adds a rustic appeal to B&B's. Tile flooring creates a more sophisticated, luxury appeal. Walls, shelves and lighting to highlight the shop's wares likewise create a specific mood. Eliminate the need for harsh overhead fluorescent lights by installing accent lights around store shelves to draw attention to products without inducing headaches. In general, the dimmer the lights, the more upscale the area feels.

Mirrors always create an illusion of space. Adding mirrors to walls and even ceilings can make even the tiniest boutique shops feel roomy.

Form Designer Duos

Partnerships between the hospitality and retail industries have long existed, but traditionally, they were contained to toiletry items. Hoteliers can expand upon this relationship by partnering with a particular designer or manufacturer to build loyalty toward both brands.

Upscale hotels pair naturally with exclusive designer clothing lines. Think of hotels like Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio in Vegas. Both offer a selection of shops featuring luxury designer duds.

Savvy hoteliers don't limit themselves to just clothing lines. Guests often admire hotel furniture designs, and some hotels have made their furnishings available — usually via special order due to space restrictions — to guests wishing to recreate their favorite hotel atmosphere in their own homes. Imagine the brand loyalty guests experience when they sit down each evening in a chair just like the one at their favorite getaway destination.

Think Local

Another way hotels at any price point can create a unique guest experience is by partnering with local artists to create truly one-of-a-kind treasures. Select artists who reflect the local flavor of the destination. Hotels in the Southwest, for example, pair naturally with Native-American-inspired works of art. Working with local artists allows hoteliers to offer goods guests simply can't find anywhere else, and it may even earn more traffic by enticing non-guests to stop in and shop.

The hospitality industry is constantly evolving, and hoteliers must keep up with the latest trends to avoid becoming obsolete. Improving a hotel's retail space attracts foot traffic and adds to a hotel's bottom line. With a bit of creativity, hotel owners can build brand loyalty by utilizing their retail space to attract new guests and delight returning guests.