FRIDAY FRUMP: Those annoying bulk toiletries

Today's Friday Frump comes courtesy of my older son, who travels extensively for his job and spends a fair number of nights in hotels. Recently, he sent me a note saying he had a "pet peeve" and suspected he was his "father's son" in this regard. He was 100 percent dead-on.

The pet peeve? Those bulk toiletries the hotel industry has adopted to replace individual amenities including soap, shampoo, cream rinse and body lotion.

Zambeli amenities

In the not-so-distant past, hotel chains took great pride in partnering with providers of high-end amenities, like the products promoted by Auckland, New Zealand's Langham Hotel, shown above.

Today, hotels from Hilton's (NYSE:HLT) Conrad properties to Choice Hotels (NYSE:CHH) have gone to large bottles mounted on shower and bathroom walls that project the feel of the locker room at a health club rather than a luxury experience in a higher-end hotel.

Bulk amenities at Oxford Suites

My son had four specific objections to this change:

A) They tend to get ignored by housekeeping because they don’t require daily attention, then I end up having a shower with no soap/shampoo available at some point. The lack of daily attention also results in some pretty disgusting gunk building up in areas that are not easily cleaned when they’re locked in the rack. 

Excellent points. The same lack of daily attention applies to bathroom fan grates in rooms that are equipped with fans.

B) Sometimes the racks are mounted in stupid locations that don’t make sense.

Also true. Last year, I stayed at a Choice Hotel in Burlington, Vermont that had just been refurbished.  They did a nice job ... except that they mounted the bottles of shampoo and such along the side wall of the already-narrow shower, making it even tighter.  They should have been on the back wall.

C) Not as portable as the little tiny bottles.

No argument there. His final point is a point I've also made previously:

D) It comes off as another example of major corporations being willing to sacrifice service and convenience, however small, in the interest of creating a tiny sliver of additional revenue. Maybe that’s a bit of an overreaction, but that’s the environment they’ve created. Ancillary charges on airlines are another (albeit more obvious) example. It’s another symptom of the same problem.

I've never been one to harangue "greedy corporations" in general. Companies exist to make a profit and thereby benefit both their employees and owners (or stockholders), but this seems excessive. Isn't there another way to generate additional revenue (or "drive cost out," as they say in corporate-speak) without reducing your level of service?  

It certainly seems that there should be.

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Photos by Carl Dombek 
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