How to run a successful hotel retail store in 2018

First we need to define success? In simple terms we would agree to define success to be happy and inspired guests, that come back to the hotel and/or inspire friends to try the hotel. As well as a marketing asset, the retail operations should also be profitable in time (if implemented correctly). Just like all new business units, it will take time for the retail service to mature

Based on our extensive experience within hotel retail here are our operational guidelines and recommendations: 

Introducing new retailers and products to the shop?

Our business model has been designed intentionally to help you to easily bring in new retailers and products. This will help to keep the products on offer: dynamic, seasonal and unique. 

There are always lots of ideas and opinions on what is a 'good' product to sell. You will never really know and the best way is to try it and see what the guests respond to and let the data do the talking (clicks, sales and general feedback to staff). 

We will work together to identify new potential retailer partners. If the hotel has a new retail partner for 3rd Party products they can introduce them to us in an email We will then arrange a meeting with the retailer to discuss the commercials, reliability, stock, discounts and marketing strategy. Progress with the hotel will be reviewed with each retailer in the monthly retail meeting. If an agreement is reached then we will install the products in the kiosk showcase and online store. 

3rd Party Products v Hotel Merchandise

Our business model allows for you to sell products which are not owned by the hotel (3rd Party). Also products that the hotel has invested money into to make a profit (Hotel Merchandise). The objective of 3rd Party products is to increase guest loyalty and encourage referrals by helping them discover and shop for gifts while they travel, with a special price offer (discount) which we negotiate with each retailer. The offer is often in the form of a special offer code used in the check out of the online store.  

If we see 3rd Party products doing well, we should discuss with the retailer opening a retail account with the hotel so that the hotel can sell them as Hotel Merchandise and make a profit (50-70%). This is smart hotel retailing, as it removes a lot of the risk associated with purchasing stock for retail. 

As your retail partners, we are here to help you every step of the way. Including solving issues with stock, storage, accounting, marketing, assortment and returns.

Product Assortment

All products in the store should be on brand. Although it is practical to appreciate that retail is very objective. We should never sell a product that offends the brand strategy but be open to try new things and experiment a bit. 

As your retail partner, we work with you to curate and evolve the assortment based on sales, brand values, seasonal trends, fashion and guest feedback. 

Online Store comes first!

We live in a digital world. While there will always be offline retail, digital transactions are the future. Guests should therefore be recommended to make their purchases in the online store whenever possible. This will give them access to the best service, full collections, offers and flexible shipping/return options. 

Operationally what does HotelEtail do?

  • Management of Online Store (content, orders, customer service, shipping, stock and returns)
  • Managing & negotiating new/existing 3rd Patry retailers and their products/stock
  • Sourcing new 3rd Party retailers and finding recommending smart Hotel Merchandise ideas
  • Respond to retail support questions from guests (with in 4 hours working hours and 24 hrs outside). 
  • 2 visits per week to hotel kiosk to refresh sold items and install/remove old products
  • Monthly meeting with hotel to review products, sales and reports
  • All accounting reporting, tax and customs issues  

Operationally what does the Hotel do?

  • Marketing the retail activities to the guests and fans (see our Marketing Guide)
  • Refer guests to the online store for help, home delivery, sizes, colours etc
  • Management of Lobby Kiosk/Showcase 
    • Guests lobby purchases  
    • Pricing Products and Signage
    • Layout and Presentation
  • Recommend new 3rd Party retailers and products
  • Hotel Merchandising with support of HotelEtail 

FAQ's - Lobby Kiosk/Showcase

What happens if a guest wants to return a product they purchased at the kiosk? 

Ask the guest to contact the Shop Concierge at and we will arrange the return in the best possible way based on the location of the guest, product type and damage to the product. 

How can we improve lobby kiosk sales?

Make sure the display is looking smart and attractive. Each product should have a price next to it and signage promoting the online store where guests can learn more about the retailers and products. It is important the retail area has good lighting and is kept clean by housekeeping.