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A Tip of the Hat to Two Companies Expanding What a Guest Amenity Can Be

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Glenn Hasek

One of the most interesting trends to watch from my seat as an editor has been the evolution of the “green” amenity. I have learned that it is quite a complex issue and a very competitive space for suppliers. If one were to describe the evolution of the greening of the amenity, it would begin with the dispenser and its numerous variations, include the elimination of certain chemicals within the products themselves, involve the shape of the soap bar itself (I loved the version with the hole in the middle), the introduction of alternative plastic and paper containers (including ocean plastic), and finally the radical rethinking of the delivery of the amenity itself.

It is this rethinking of the “delivery,” or form of the amenity that I focused on in my article this past week entitled, “Two Innovations in Guest Amenities: Hotel Emporium’s Powder & Nohbo’s Water-Soluble Film.” I find the innovations of the two companies to be quite intriguing.

First, Nohbo’s water-soluble film. Wrapping amenities in water-soluble film was the idea of Ben Stern, Founder of Nohbo. As a teen he was inspired by his love of nature and his frustration at the state of the world—one where, according to Nohbo, 120 billion units of packaging are trashed annually in the personal care and beauty industry. Stern worked hard to raise money and ultimately was accepted onto Shark Tank in 2016. He successfully struck a $100,000 investment with billionaire maverick Mark Cuban on the show. In 2020, Nohbo embarked on its first institutional fundraising round, a $3.6 million dollar seed round led by a Boston-based VC fund, Material Impact.

Stern told me that the film is “a proprietary polymer that breaks down faster than a banana. It took years to develop.”

Nohbo says that on average, its solutions contain 95 percent less water, and 100 percent less preservatives than the average bottle of shampoo.

In August, Nohbo began selling its products to the commercial market. Stern says the sweet spot for its products currently is boutique hotels, adding that Disney is piloting its encapsulated products.

Guest reaction so far has been positive, Stern says, adding that his company will work with other brands to encapsulate their products.

Going forward, Nohbo is launching a new technology called Hydrofills—Multi-use Drops. When a 1-ounce Hydrofill Drop is mixed with 6 ounces of water, it forms a 7-ounce container of shampoo, creamy conditioner, or gel-like body washes.

Stern says the price point of his company’s Hydrofill Drop option will be more attractive to non-boutique hotels.

Adding Water to a Powder

I have written about Hotel Emporium’s EcoPods before. The compostable EcoPods include powder in containers made from 60 percent bamboo fiber, 30 percent sugarcane fiber, and 10 percent wood fiber. Guests simply add water to a portion of the powder to create shampoo, conditioner, or body wash.

Shea James, Executive Director of Sales of Hotel Emporium, says moves by two states to ban single-use plastic amenity bottles helped drive the innovation behind the EcoPod collection.

“The EcoPod is a great option for any independent hotel owner and property host in California, New York, and anywhere else in the U.S. that must adhere to sustainability state regulations, banning single-use plastic amenities, and for all those seeking to offer next-gen, experiential amenity products that are as kind on the planet as they are on the skin,” James says.

He adds that since the introduction of the EcoPod, it has received very positive attention from the eco-tourist community. “The EcoPod is particularly popular with glampers, campers and Airbnb hosts who seek chic, innovative, and carbon-neutral amenities,” he says.

Like Nohbo, Hotel Emporium offers purchasers of its products material to help guests understand how to properly use the product.

Nohbo and Hotel Emporium are just two examples of amenity companies that are innovating to rid the planet of the single-use plastic bottle. Presented correctly with messaging about the products’ environmental upsides, my hunch is that guests are going to love these products.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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