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September 17, 2018

Bathroom Amenity Dispensers: The Debate Continues

We’ve written in the past about whether or not properties should install soap and shampoo dispensers in their guest rooms or stick with individual bottles and bars. There are reasons pro and con, which mostly depend on the property itself.

The pro side is pretty obvious – they save money. Accommodation industry giant J.W. Marriott has decided to use dispensers instead of individual bottles in all their North American managed properties. Marriott company officials are stressing the ecological considerations of the move, and we’re not saying such considerations don’t exist. We’re saying it’s a nice twofer.

InterContinental and IHG’s Kimpton already use dispensers. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal declared “The Beginning of the End for Those Tiny Shampoo Bottles.”

Is that true? Is the war over? Not quite.

There are still advantages of those small bottles over dispensers. It’s not clear that in the long run guests will prefer dispensers. Travel industry observer Gary Leff recently implored hotels to “stop the shampoo wall dispenser madness,” pointing out that there are legitimate concerns:

Guests can’t be 100% sure that the dispensers contain the reputable brand that’s advertised – some upscale properties have been caught substituting cheaper, inferior quality product for the stated one, as Leff notes. And guests with dark senses of humor can replace the liquid in the dispenser with… well, let your imagination go.

Does housekeeping clean the dispensers as well as they should? Every time? Can guests be sure of that? The National Institute of Health conducted a study recently finding that “approximately one in four dispensers in public restrooms are contaminated.” Sure that’s public restrooms, but the concerns linger. Of course, replaceable dispenser cartridges skirts ‘refilling’ bottles and avoid that concern.

The rule of thumb is that, traditionally, the more upscale the property, the less likely you are to find dispensers, while guests in more budget accommodations are prepared to risk dispensers as part of the trade-off. The times are changing though, so if you’re considering a switch, assess your property and, more importantly, your clientele.