Traditionally, the pantry has been a resource to meet the needs of guests when they are looking for a light snack or quick meal. However, due to recent restrictions caused by COVID-19, the pantry has become a much more integral part of a hotel’s day-to-day operations. In fact, some experts believe that over the next few months more and more hotels will begin opting for grab-and-go items in place of traditional dining options1.
When properly planned and managed, the pantry can be a great source of revenue for your hotel. Now more than ever, it’s important that you select the right products for your pantry. This will ensure you are not just meeting the needs of your guests, but also earning a profit.
Before selecting the items for your pantry, you need to determine what categories should be included as pantry necessities. Common options are sweet snacks, salty snacks, healthy snacks, quick meals, ice cream, frozen dinners, and travel size amenities. Additionally, you need to identify what the best sellers in each of those categories are. This could be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for sweet snacks or Doritos for salty snacks, for example. You will be able to determine these categories based on market research.
Once you have your categories in mind, here are 5 things to consider when selecting the products for your hotel pantry.
1) Stick with What’s Familiar
It is vital to offer the popular products that your guests seek when they step into a pantry. Some hotels want to stand out by offering only regional items or only natural or organic products. This can be beneficial, but typically national brands outsell specialty items 4 to 1.
Research has shown that guests, especially families and business travelers, prefer comfort foods from well-known brands while they are traveling. Consumers would rather not spend money on an item they are unfamiliar with, taking a chance that it might not be exactly what they wanted. By offering items that guests are familiar with, sales and guest satisfaction will increase.
2) Use Room Rates as Budget Indicators
The room rate of a guest’s hotel is a good indicator of their travel budget and should be factored in when selecting the offerings in a pantry. For example, a guest who is willing to pay $200/night to stay at a hotel is probably willing to pay $7 for a pint of premium ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Daaz. On the other hand, a guest who chose an economy hotel at a $49/night rate is more likely to be looking for an inexpensive ice cream product in the $3-4 range, like Klondike or Good Humor novelties.
Studies have also shown that generic or low budget items are NOT usually preferred by guests, no matter what their budget, because they are normally associated with being low quality. If these products are stocked in the pantry, you will find that they will not sell as quickly, despite the low price.
3) Bigger Is Better
When America was asked “Would you like that Super-Sized?” the answer was a resounding “YES!” Guests typically opt for the 20oz soda, the king-sized chocolate bar, and the large “grab bag” chips. These products sell better and faster, which means an opportunity for larger profits. Market retail analysis of over 400 Marriott Markets shows that king-sized beverages, candy bars, and potato chips outsell their normal size counterpart across all categories where a king-sized alternative is offered.
To put it into perspective, the single serve 1 oz bag of Lays can be purchased from your food service company for about $.35 each (depending on your negotiated price) and can be sold in the pantry for $1.00. That’s about a 200% markup and $.65 profit per bag. However, a king size or grab bag size (2.25 oz) Lays sells wholesale for about $.65 and can retail in a hotel pantry for $2.00 or more. That’s about a 225% markup and $1.35 profit per bag. Is it starting to add up?
4) Mix It Up
Guests want options – not just in the number of products being offered, but in the categories available as well. A guest should be able to walk into the pantry and find a satisfying solution to what they are craving. Meaning if a guest needs to satisfy a sweet tooth, they should have several choices to choose from, including chocolate, cookies, and candy. If they come in and are trying to stick to their diet, they should be able to select from a variety of healthy products like energy bars, trail mix, or Lean Cuisine meals.
This is especially important during a time like COVID-19. As dine-in options continue to be limited, having a variety of food offerings for different mealtimes in your pantry is key. Individually wrapped meal items like muffins or sandwiches are perfect to grab-and-go so guests can dine in the comfort of their rooms.
5) Don’t Forget the Little Ones!
Travel size assortments and single serve over-the-counter medicines are very popular sellers but are commonly overlooked by hotels. These products allow you to meet the needs of your guests while earning a healthy profit, since most wholesale for under a dollar and can be sold for $2.00 or more. When properly supplied and merchandised, these assortments fall in the top five for all pantry offerings.
No matter what region your hotel is in or what main guest profile you are serving, the convenience of a well-supplied pantry market can improve guest loyalty and increase sales at your hotel. Selecting the right products to offer is the first step towards your hotel retail success.
In addition to helping you find savings on the right products for your pantry, Source1 Purchasing can also help you access competitive pricing on a wide variety of products and services for your hotel. Contact us to learn more, we’d love to meet you!