Every hotel must adapt and change in order to survive… and the antiquated hotel gift shop must do the same.
There’s something we can all learn from the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, Australia: Even when you’re 135 years old, you’ve still got to keep it fresh. The iconic, 5-star hotel updated its hotel gift shop, borrowing a concept that’s thriving at the Ace Hotel: The Windsor began selling its own (unused) pillows and mattresses—along with home and kitchen items—via an online gift shop.
To survive, the contemporary hotel gift shop must undergo a serious transformation. Here are some of the ways hotels can modernize these in-house boutiques:
Create a destination.
In the old days, you might stop in the hotel gift shop upon checkout to pick up a quick souvenir. However, today’s thriving gift shops are worth visiting whether or not you’re a guest of the establishment. Take, for instance, la Boutique des Bains, a Parisian hotel gift shop that is “somewhere between a boutique, a gallery and a coffee shop.”
Cater to the clientele.
Ditch the and luggage tags and custom-printed t-shirts. Instead, stock your hotel gift shop with items that your customers actually need. The colorful Shop at the Standard, Miami achieves this by carrying “all things surf and sun, from bikinis to bronzer to board shorts.” If you’re the Anvil Hotel in Jackson Hole, then an upscale Western general store is right on point. If you’re a beachside resort, then hotel spa robes and spa slippers should be front and center.
Homespun works, too.
Take a cue from Babylonstoren, a farm hotel and spa based in South Africa. Their “Farm Shop” features tons of homemade gems, including jams, baked goods, and olive oil. The owners cleverly lure customers to the shop by hosting wine tastings in the adjacent store.
Overall, hotel owners must realize that the gift shop is more than an in-house convenience store. It can be—and should be—a means of attracting new customers and increasing revenue.