Lobbies are pivotal spaces in the hotel guest experience journey. From the initial scent, to the lighting, to the colors, lobbies are all about first impressions. I like to ask myself the following questions when I encounter a new hotel space: Does the lobby feel calming or invigorating? Can I determine how to get to the elevators without asking for help? And my personal favorite, is there a gift shop?
In today’s hotel culture, hotel gift shops are most commonly prevalent in four to five star properties. For most others, gift shops exist in some shape or form, but mainly selling sundries. For instance, if you forgot a toothbrush, or need to get a bottle of water or candy bar. However, finding a good gift shop is a lot like finding a good friend. Once you find a good one, your life will change for the better. The hotel becomes more than a sleeping spot. It becomes the place that took your visit from good to great.
Secrets of a great gift shop
So what makes a good hotel gift shop? Definitely not just a collection of t-shirts or tchotchkes with the destination name plastered on them. The hallmark of a good hotel gift shop is the ability to carry an assortment of items from clothing to jewelry to souvenirs that would appeal to the most typical guests and their families. If it’s a beach resort, I’d naturally expect bathing suits. If it was a ski resort, then jackets and sweaters in all sizes. Let’s face it, airlines often lose luggage. What’s worse than arriving at your destination without a change of clothes or the right clothing to begin with?
Recently, I experienced first-hand what makes a good hotel gift shop such a BFF. Because of quick packing before my trip to South Carolina, I forgot many key items for myself and 4 year-old daughter. From snacks to clothes to toys, there is no almost no way not to forget anything. I showed up to this beach resort without goggles, swimmies, or a good activity to keep her occupied. Luckily, the gift shop was well curated. It had everything I needed (and didn’t necessarily need) amounting to a fresh credit card charge of $250 in a matter of 10 minutes.
My favorite shops
For those planning an upcoming family trip, here is a list of my top 3 hotel lobby gift shops.
- Hotel Emma San Antonio, Texas
- The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida
- The Edition in Miami, Florida
If you’re a hotel, asking for how you can differentiate yourself from local competitors, consider the addition of a hotel gift shop that not only current guests would love but potential guests would pop into to pick-up some fashionable goods. Let’s partner together on your ideas for a hotel lobby update.