Green labels, spa ambience, well-known brands: these three trends continue to be timely. Hotel groups are always looking for contemporary welcome products. Today, the quality and environmental goals of this offer - even more than the hotel brand - are what are being promoted.
Suppliers suffered from the drop in OR to the same extent as their hotelier clients. Orders were smaller, and production lean to avoid overstocking. “Purchases were strict and precise,” remarks François Marchand, president of Aficom: a nice way to say renegotiation of prices and adjustment of quantities… Nonetheless, the temptation to limit gratuities is not widespread although Dominique Pisan, managing director of ADA France, observes “that in Spain where it was usual to create a display around the sink, there was a clear break away.” The crisis has not radically changed the policy of hoteliers with regard to welcome products. The basic trends that prevailed prior to the slump in activity remain unchanged today. Sustainable development remains the value that is on the uptrend. The spa trend is gaining on the bathroom market, while hoteliers continue to be faced with a dilemma: choose between cosmetics brands, supplier brands and welcome products specific to the hotel brand. Several brands have opted for the latter - personalization developing their brand strategy right down to their showers and bathtubs. Consortia are particularly attentive to this means of communication that is seen as an excellent means of expressing network membership. Thus, the Inter-Hotel charter requires welcome products - some of which are mandatory such as soaps, body gel and shampoo - to bear the brand's name and logo. Franchisers are also trying to create this kind of uniformity for the guest experience throughout a network. Within the framework of the remaking of the economy brand Kyriad, Louvre Hôtels worked with the Italian company GFL to create a line of welcome products faithful to the signature “More comfort, less conformity”. “We have implemented products - hypoallergenic body gel and shampoo and soap - that adopt a new scent each season. So in summer 2009, we chose the fragrance Citron-Musc Blanc which was replaced by Agrumes-Bois de Cèdre,” explains Camille Sassi, Communications director at Louvre Hôtels. In terms of labeling products, professionals are seeing a major change. The hotel brand is now more discrete, disappearing behind a promise of originality and quality that is reassuring for the client. “Previously, hoteliers promoted the property's name and the chain's logo. Today, welcome products offer an opportunity to convey a message,” perceives Dominique Pisan. “Rather than promote themselves they demonstrate that the hotel takes care of its guests by offering a quality product or one that protects the environment”. Launched at the end of 2008, Novotel's (N) line perfectly illustrates this example. 100% eco-certified or both its container and contents, these welcome products proudly display their (N) as a sign of belonging to the Novotel brand and a reference to the natural character of the products. At a time when glitz is unsuccessful, must hoteliers banish branded welcome products? Even if Dominique Pisan observes “a certain decline, a perhaps temporary shift towards supplier brands,” there is still room for internationally renown brands in the luxury and upscale segments. Their evocative names are synonymous in guests' minds with a guarantee of quality. ADA thus sells products under Bulgari, Chopard and Lanvin licenses; Aficom acquired rights from Azzaro, Yves Rocher, Carven, Morabito and Thierry Mugler. Roger&Gallet has stood out for the last fifteen years by offering its own products from the cosmetic brand's factory “to be absolutely certain there is no compromise in quality,” reminds Michel Hossenlopp, sales director. For this brand as for others, the hotel constitutes a formidable direct marketing opportunity addressing its customer targets. “It is important to be visible in good hotels. They offer entrées into our brand. At the hotel, guests may try our products directly and appreciate the delicate texture and refined scent, which is our great strength,” according to Michel Hossenlopp. Roger&Gallet was refreshed in 2007 and is developing its offer for hoteliers. After its emblematic range Jean Marie Farina, then Lait d'avoine, the brand launched a third range in the middle of 2009: Bois d'orange. A modern fragrance with woody and orangey scents it was a great success with the general public. As for hoteliers, Pullman adopted this innovation that is now an integral part of its offer worldwide. “While other ranges are available in 30 ml, Bois d'orange offers a 40 ml vial to meet a demand for products that are both upscale and generous,” declares Michel Hossenlopp who sees it as a compromise between an imperative for cost control and a demand for large containers, a trend that arose prior to the crisis. This trend has remained and even grown stronger: the spa phenomenon in the form of welcome products. Finding the same brand throughout the hotel, from the spa to the room as well as in the common areas, offers a bounty of potential synergies with a goal to subtly turning clientele towards the spas or generating sales of additional products. But even hotels that don't have spas are now interested in this type of product. Their caring and wellness aspects are appreciated, especially during these troubled times. In a fragmented market with a multitude of brands and few world leaders, suppliers adopt different strategies. ADA is playing on its own creations, its best-seller ranges Hydrobasics and Pure Herbs with natural fragrances that have spa elements such as massage oils, peels and skin treatments. Aficom, meanwhile, relies on partnerships with well-known brands such as Clarins, Anne Sémonin, Daniel Jouvance and Omnisens. While a new contract is under negotiation, two brands have just been added to Aficom's offer in 2009: Sampar and Thémaé. With the latter, the French group made a double hit by riding the spa wave and closely following the rise in strength of sustainable development. In fact, the Thémaé spa line is certified Ecocert and Cosmebio. Aficom decided to play the product certification card to its fullest. Its stylish, contemporary N-Ki range is entirely Cosmebio and Ecocert endorsed, including the tray and accessories. “For the new lines we are launching, one out of two will be endorsed because there is a strong demand from hoteliers. It is an undercurrent made to last. I believe that in ten or fifteen years all welcome products will be certified,” predicts François Marchand. After Thémaé and N-Ki, the Damana line, which evokes nature with provincial overtones, will have its rite of passage in a few months. Vis-à-vis increasingly ecoconscious clientele, hoteliers don't hesitate to express their efforts. Novotel's (N) products are endorsed by two European labels: Ecocert and Ecolabel. Aficom has created certified lines for Logis d'exception, Best Western and Châteaux & Hôtels Collection. One major obstacle remains: the price. Organic raw materials generally cost more, not to mention the expenses involved in certification. According to Dominique Pisan, there's a limit: “there is still a major difference between certified and non certified products.” ADA's response: avoid the middlemen, have one's own production site Ecocert certified in 2010 and offer competitive lines endorsed by Ecocert, upon request and without compromise regarding their cosmetic quality. ADA has also just launched its Ecolabel Green Culture line in vials and distributors. Distributors are, in fact, beginning to find their way into hotels naturally. “Our eco-labeled “press & wash” has been one of our star products for several years. In Northern Europe, they were rapidly accepted. Resistance in Southern Europe is beginning to slack off under the double pressure of cost and the wave of sustainable development,” explains Dominique Pisan. The grievances against distributors remain: they can't be brought home as souvenirs and they're anonymous, although Aficom is preparing to palliate the latter problem with eco-labeled distributors marked Omnisens and Morabito. The walls are falling in the face of green power and the financial director's verdict…
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