At least it had a “mini-bar.”

In Just Thinkin', Memorable Marketing on December 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Okay, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go “Andy Rooney” today and talk about something that gets…and probably deserves…little attention. You often hear jokes or quips about “stealing the shampoo” from the hotel, or people who seem to live off the little individual-serve amenities that come with stays at most hotels.

I empathize with hotels. I know those little things can’t cost much, especially in light of the lofty room rates. But put yourself in their position. What is the best way to show guests a good, comfortable stay, but minimize waste along the way?

This issue reappeared on my “radar” recently when I was making a long cross-country drive, and was determined to rest for the night in the least-expensive accommodations I could find, short of parking amidst the semis at a truck stop and sleeping in the car.

Well, I found an inexpensive one, all right.  (All relative, of course…it was still painful to think of the other things I could have done with the money if I had driven straight on through, instead.) And I won’t go into detail about the place itself.  I’m not a snooty person, but I assume bullet-proof glass is there for a reason. 

Anyway, when I approached the sink in the guest room, I was a little surprised to see a postage stamp. When I turned on the light, I noticed, of course, that it was really the bar of soap! (I’ve included a picture of it, with my cell phone for size reference.) And it’s thin enough to fit through the coin slot in your average piggy bank.

I looked into the shower and thank God, there was ANOTHER bar of soap! After checking under the bed for Lilliputians, I decided this was, indeed, the soap intended for me. Somewhere, at some point, the management of this fine establishment looked through a catalog of personal care items, and asked, “do you have any smaller soap?”

It was better than nothing, of course, but only slightly. And my guess is, it didn’t cost very  much, so it was helping hold down the cost of my room. (Although it also got me to thinking that, to the usual patrons of this establishment, soap must not be a very high priority.) It was very clear that the management had carefully weighed the concepts of pleasing customers against reducing costs, and made its choice.

I used one of the bars of soap, of course, although I lost it in the washcloth several times, and had to be careful it didn’t slip down the drain. The other, I saved. With great delight. Even the name “Hotello” made me smile. Is that name the simple low-budget thing it appears, since, get it, it’s a “hotel” (sort of)? Or is it supposed to call to mind the elegance of great Shakespearian theatre. I can see it now….

“Out, out, damned spot. Be thee gone, but nay, my soapeth hath no being, and thus will damn me to enduring thy haunting presence forever!”

It was a memorable stay. And I’m sure they put the money they saved to very good use. Although I can assure you it wasn’t put towards the “free breakfast.” Otherwise there might have been three Sara Lee mini bagels left in the open bag, instead of two. But that’s another post.

  1. Hi Mike:

    It reminds me of a long distance trip to Tampa one time. Just couldn’t push it any further and decided to get a room in Gainesville about midnight. Out of exhaustion and desperation we took a room at the only place with one still available, the “Economy Inn”(a converted old Holiday Inn Motel). The soap would be the nicest part of the stay. Talk about economy, they furnished the sink with a bar from the LaQuinta Inn across the street and the tub with one from the TravelLodge down the street! I bought a newspaper to spread across the floor because no one wanted to walk on the carpet,we slept in our clothes on top of the bedspread and used our duffle bags as pillows. Both the bathtub and TV were lined with cigarette burns! And let’s just say the place appeared to be both pet and “transient” friendly. That’s why still today I hate Gainesville. That, and of course,the U of F Gators.:)

  2. Well on the flip side what do you do with the leftover soap? Luckily there are bunches of hotel soap recycling movements out there, providing the recycled soap to people in need. So if you have a social and environmentally conscience hotel they may already be doing the right thing. Something tells me your “motel” does not have such a policy.
    Global Soap Project –

    • Thanks Mark. Certainly a good point; the last thing I wanted to appear as was a “fat cat” American whining about not having a big bar of soap to use once and throw away! While I still think my little Hotello bar is amusing, the waste issue is very interesting. Perhaps individual guests should have a “recycle your soap” chute to publicize the issue (and encourage responsible actions) even more. But it also gets into marketing, and at what point does the hotel hurt itself by doing good? An in-wall body wash dispenser? Some don’t like it. A ‘bring or BUY your own” policy would cut down waste, but annoy big shots. And do guests of the Ritz Carlton really NEED $10 bars of soap when people are going without any at all? Maybe in the end, the recycling movements you cited are still the best answer – if hotels got more efficient on that score, not likely that the poor of the world would benefit. Hope many more will follow the lead of those Atlanta hotels….

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