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The airline and hotel industry is always looking for new points for brand differentiation. Be it fancy branded amenity kits or other add-on services, the race to catch the customer’s attention is on like never before. However, while we all love trying out new brands during our hotel stay, there’s one thing that always stands out. How many times have you checked into a luxury hotel. They’re stocked with the best amenities in the world, but why no toothpaste?

I recently stayed at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I was blown away by the scintillating views and opulent decor. It had everything, but no toothpaste. 🙂

All the luxury but no toothpaste 😀

Why no toothpaste?

Fancy shampoos and conditioners? Yes. Luxurious bathrooms? Yes. Device docking stations and  But no complimentary toothpaste. It often boggles the mind

Cost Reduction

When I’m asked this question, I often think about cost probably being the biggest factor in the equation. Guests probably don’t use them at all if they carry their own. If they use, they almost never finish them and it has to been thrown away before the next guest checks in.

Customer Preference

However, it seems like that may not be the only reason. Oddly enough, the hotels say that customers don’t really think that it’s that important an amenity or benefit. Slate’s article shows the absurdity of their explanation:

Why has toothpaste been relegated to this supplementary status? I asked this question of executives at 18 North American hotel chains, and most provided the same pair of explanations. First, they said their in-room amenities are chosen based on extensive consumer research. In other words, if the hotels aren’t giving you toothpaste, it’s because you don’t really want toothpaste. “If such requests did begin to trend,” explained a representative from the Wyndham Hotel Group, “we would evaluate our brand standards and offerings.

I don’t really know what they’re waiting for when they say “if such requests begin to trend.” I thought that using a toothpaste to take care of his dental hygiene is probably a basic necessity for any person. The article cites another reason about copy cat behavior. Hotels see other hotel chains not doing the same. They just opt to wait and watch before it really becomes a necessary benefit.

Industry Standards

What’s odd is that the industry standards also don’t push them to stock toothpastes.

According to AAA, which gives out diamond ratings to U.S. hotels, a one-diamond establishment must stock two small bars of soap, while a two-diamond place needs to have two slightly larger bars of soap, plus one packet or bottled item. At three, four, and five diamonds, each hotel is expected to provide ever larger soaps and ever-widening apothecaries of creams, lotions, and gels. Bars and bottles, yes; tubes of toothpaste, no.

Branding and Partnerships

Hotels carefully select the brands that they want to display at their properties. Each brand conveys an image. They only like to pick and choose brands that align with their hotel brand. By displaying fancy toiletries and other amenities, these brands are vying for your attention. The longer you stay at the hotel, the longer you’re exposed to the sight or the smell of the amenities. Repeated use of these brands leads to brand retention.

Also, if you intend to take any of those small shampoo bottles or fancy soap bars with you, it’s a signal to the brand that you liked what you tried. If you liked what you tried, you’re more likely to buy that product after your hotel stay. Brands hope to use this as a sampling exercise to earn customer eyeballs and eventually acquire them long term.

The Pundit’s Mantra

In my opinion, hotels just don’t consider items like toothpastes and toothbrushes aspirational enough in order to spend enough money to put them on display. As a customer, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a toothpaste. However, industry standards don’t yet make is mandatory for hotels to provide them to you.

I always carry a small travel kit of essential amenities whenever I’m on the road. You can get travel size amenities at your nearest department store. Also, if you ever forget to carry a toothpaste, you can always request the person at reception. I’ve never had a problem getting one after asking politely.

Do you believe the hotels’ explanation? Do you think industry standards should be updated in order to include toothpastes? Let us know in the comments section.

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