A Practical Guide to Choosing Toiletries for your Bed and BreakfastJan 17, 2024
Creating a memorable stay at a bed and breakfast involves a combination of lots of little details that all add up to impress your guests and set you apart from the local competition.
It’s often the smallest details, like the type of toiletries offered, that can have the biggest impact on your guests’ experience.
Whether you're considering an upgrade after running your B&B for a while or are a newcomer to the business, this post will help you through your options.
I'll be recommending some products from the UK Hospitality Supplier Out of Eden in this blog post. For more about my collaboration with Out of Eden, check out this post >> Where to shop for your hospitality supplies.
The legal bit - this is a paid sponsored post. This blog relies on the support and trust of readers like you. Collaborating with companies like Out of Eden and recommending products I'd genuinely buy or that have been trusted by other hospitality providers enables me to provide valuable content for free.
What to consider before changing your toiletries range
If you are planning to revamp your toiletries range, before jumping into making changes, it’s important to evaluate the current situation at your B&B.
Guest feedback and usage
- Check through your reviews for comments on toiletries.
- Make note of any recurring comments and feedback. Are there particular items your guests always rave about?
- Observe how guests interact with toiletries. Are they being used or mostly being untouched?
- Identify unused items and decide whether they are really necessary. For example, I found, at my B&B anyway, that body lotion was very rarely used.
Keep up with trends in guests preferences
Just as fashion trends evolve, so do preferences in modern toiletries. Staying in touch with these trends means that you continue to cater to the changing tastes of guests and also stay contemporary.
Also consider your style of B&B and type of guests staying.
There’s a growing demand for eco-conscious toiletries, with guests appreciating sustainable, biodegradable and minimal-packaging.
And, with an increasing focus on ethical consumption, guests will appreciate toiletries that are cruelty-free and vegan.
Out of Eden's refillable range are vegan, cruelty free, free of SLS and parabens and made in the UK.
Is it time to switch to refillable toiletries?
If you're currently using travel-sized toiletries, then refillable products offer a greener and money saving option.
Yes, they mini bottles are convenient, and I started with them at my own B&B. But they do come with their own disadvantages; having to clean out half used bottles for recycling, generating a lot more plastic, more likely to be taken by guests, more expensive.
With refillable toiletries you can cut down on plastic use and save money. Out of Eden have a great blog on the benefits of using refillable products here - Why you should make the switch to refillable products.
Presenting your toiletries
The way you present toiletries is an opportunity to showcase your commitment to guest satisfaction and attention to detail.
A well-thought-out display contributes to the overall ambiance of the room, making guests feel more pampered and valued during their stay.
👩💻 Karen's Tip
When you supply larger bottles of refillable toiletries, there is always a risk that guests will think it's OK to take them home.
One guest said to me at breakfast "We assume it's OK for us to take all of the toiletries with us?". She really did think that was OK!
If you're worried about this happening, then a small note in the bathroom or your room info folder, saying something like "Please leave the toiletries for our next guests. If you'd like to purchase bottles to take home with you, please let us know and we'd be happy to sell you some" or similar.
Or try placing bottles for sale in a prominent place in reception, with a price tag, will hopefully put off guests from walking off with the toiletries in the room.
Hygiene and cleanliness
Obviously it goes without saying that a B&B bathroom should be spotlessly clean, but if you’re using refillable toiletries then I used to find I needed to pay a bit more attention to detail with cleaning the dispensers.
Clean and sanitise pump dispensers and bottles diligently on each changeover. I always refilled toiletries for each guest—an extra step and more time consuming, but one guests often commented on.
However, not everyone is comfortable with refillable toiletries. I did have one course attendee say she never used them because of concerns over hygiene issues.
Consider offering amenity welcome packs for guests uncomfortable with refillable toiletries. These packs can also be sold to guests.
👩💻 Karen's Tip
Rather than refilling the toiletries individually on each room change, I'd have several spare bottles on the go and would have weekly refilling sessions. That way, at each changeover I'd just grab some full bottle and swap them out.
Make a note of when you first open the toiletries and their shelf life once opened. If you check the label of toiletries you'll see a symbol containing a number and the letter M, eg 12M. This is telling you that the toiletries are good for 12 Months from opening. I would remove any contents and recycle the bottles once I reached that time period - or sooner if the bottles or contents started to look less than perfect.
Use a marker pen to put the date first opened on the bottom of the bottle to remind you when they need to go in the recycle bin.
Consider placement of toiletries
This may seem another obvious one, but are all of the toiletries in a place that’s easy for guests to use?
Our favourite room in our favourite hotel has a lovely walk in shower and a beautiful double ended bath.
The bath is very comfortable and because of the soft water and high pressure there is always a mass of bubbles. And they supply a stand alone foam bath to use.
But both the conditioner and the shampoo are attached to the wall in the shower. So if I decide to wash my hair in the bath, I have to pump some shampoo and conditioner into a couple of the water glasses.
For easy access, or if you find your toiletries just keep walking home in guests' luggage, these soap dispensers by the shower will come in handy.
But if you do have a separate bath, make sure your guests who prefer to bathe have easy access to toiletries too!
With an increase in allergies in the population, providing allergen-free toiletries for guests who might request them is a nice touch.
If guests do say they require allergen -free toiletries, it’s worth checking with them what products are suitable, rather than having to second guess.
Making some extra income
Guests often asked me if they could buy toiletries to take home, so consider offering some for sale on display in your reception area.
For example, Out of Eden suggest selling their Cole and Lewis Lemongrass and Bergamot Gel for £10.99 incl vat. If you buy 6 the cost to you wholesale is £3.30 a bottle which is a nice profit of £7.69!
You could also increase the potential value of them by creating a gift pack, with a nice face cloth or similar.
What toiletries I used at my own B&B
At Hopton House B&B, I experimented with various toiletries and packaging over the years, before finally settling on what suited both me and my guests.
I started with miniature bottles from a luxury brand.
They smelled fantastic and were popular, but:
- Many bottles were left half-empty after guests departed.
- I had concerns about plastic waste and the hassle of recycling - I had to wash them out before they could in the recycle bin.
- Reordering required a hefty £300 minimum order, a lot for a small B&B.
For a while, I purchased toiletries from a local supplier, an eco-friendly choice, but:
- They were pricey.
- 1L bottles proved challenging to display nicely.
- Supply inconsistency meant I was quite often left without toiletries and had to look for last minute alternatives
I eventually settled on Out of Eden’s Cole and Lewis Refillable range for several reasons:
- They had the appearance of more expensive brands at a much lower cost.
- Guests loved them and often asked to buy some to take away.
- Made in the UK with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.
- Included hair conditioner, which actually worked, in their range. I used it myself for several years.
- Safe for septic tanks.
- SLS and Paraben-free.
- Refillable, with 5L refills.
- Available for a small order with no minimum requirement.
Remember, the little things, even as small as toiletries and their presentation, can contribute significantly to a delightful guest experience.
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