The howls of disappointment that greeted the decision by some large hotel chains to ditch their smaller-packaged amenities in favour of bulk bathroom dispensers shows the narrow line hosts have to walk when it comes to balancing guest expectations with being environmentally friendly.
At HealthPak, everything we do is driven by our eco-awareness: from innovative packaging and recycling schemes to educating and offering practical assistance to our customers to help them run a successful accommodation business while staying ahead of the curve when it comes to green technology.
Certainly, when it comes to single use plastic bags and straws, there’s no doubt that the world – and business in particular – needs to change. But after more than a decade investigating the cost versus guest experience versus environmental impact of hotels, motels, B&Bs and guesthouses throughout New Zealand swapping out individual soaps, shampoos and conditioners for bulk dispensers, we’ve come to the realisation that it simply doesn’t make sense.
At the top end of the market, bulk dispensers simply don’t sell the idea of luxury – a message that all hoteliers understand has to be sold via every stage of a guest’s stay from foyer to bathroom. In a recent article for Skift, Sofitel vice president for luxury brand management Joao Rocco revealed they had polled guests about changing their amenities range:
“Of course, we think about being more environmentally-conscious,” Rocco said. “But when we ask if [bulk containers are] something that people are willing to accept, the answer is loud and clear. Seventy-two percent of the survey respondents said dispensers don’t convey luxury, while 87 percent get the impression that they are being used to reduce costs.”
And in the same article, Isabelle Laroque, director of product development at Four Seasons, put it succinctly: “Bulk usually seems more utilitarian.”
Years of experience of working alongside Kiwi accommodation providers means we understand that there are places where, say, liquid soaps in a retail bottle are accepted – for example by a washstand or communal bathroom – and that’s why around half our ranges include these lager dispensers. But the negative impact of bulk dispensers in the shower centred around them conveying a message of cost-cutting, or giving a more institutional feel, far outweigh any supposed environmental message.
There are more innovative ways to convey an environmental message
HealthPak has led the way in New Zealand to develop packaging from recycled materials and ensure those same bottles are then recycled again and again. We have also pioneered a soap recycling scheme and launched ranges using locally sourced ingredients as well as helped our clients reduce waste by introducing goodie bags for guests to take amenities home or have them donated to homeless shelters. When you want to let your guests know you care about New Zealand’s flora and fauna, it isn’t enough to simply lock large dispensers to the side of you shower cubicles, you need to tell the story of what you’re doing – and at HealthPak we truly believe we have much better and greener stories to tell via our existing individually packaged toiletries.
Shared bulk dispensers have a problem both in perceived and actual level of hygiene. Many of the markets from which New Zealand’s growing numbers of tourists originate have high expectation levels when it comes to cleanliness – for example, simply look at the practice of wearing face masks in public in Japan and China. These expectations are unlikely to be met by bulk dispensers.
At HealthPak we also have experience of monitoring the bacterial levels of bulk dispensers and can concur with research carried out in the US which highlighted the extent to which these units can spread bacteria both from the outside of the packaging and from the refilled soap. As much as those running housekeeping staff can create strict guidelines in the hope of reducing this potential for contamination, the actual practice of “topping up” dispensers or the practicalities of cleaning the packaging mean the risk is always there.
The reality of recyclables
On the surface, the idea of ditching smaller bottles and sachets for large dispensers may seem like a more environmentally friendly measure but that misses the point of how and why materials are recycled. For example, a pump-action dispenser will contain a pump unit that contains both metal and plastic making it all the more likely it will be rejected by recyclers and end up in landfill, while HealthPak portion control packaging not only comes from 100% recycled material but is also likely to then be recycled once more after its use meaning it never ends up in landfill.
Sending an environmentally friendly message certainly should be part of any Kiwi accommodation provider’s role but that shouldn’t come at the expense of that business’s image or financial viability – both of which could come under pressure from the negative impression given by bulk dispensers. Instead, HealthPak has far more innovative and exciting products and schemes that should keep your guests happy and your business booming.
For more information on the environmental impact of HealthPak’s hotel and motel supplies including guest amenities and to discuss how we can work alongside your business to ensure you are giving your guests a bona fide clean, green Kiwi experience, contact us on +64 9 579 6268, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website.